Have you ever wondered what keeps the Kolkata populace blissfully happy, even if the entire nation succumbs itself to a bout of stress-related symptoms? The “public of Kolkata” (as they love to call themselves), thrive on joie de vivre that derives from life’s little pleasures. And street food is surely one such element.
Stroll through any of Kolkata’s busy thoroughfares and you’ll find vendors conjuring up cart magic through delicious phuchka, papri chat, jhaal muri, bhel puri, ghoogni, chop and umpteen other eatables. Have your share of this finger-licking street food at the following places.
Lord Sinha Road, outside AC Market
It all started here with the Marwaris and Gujaratis looking for a quick bite after their hectic shopping spree at the AC Market . Step right out of the market and bump into the Gandhi-topi-clad men carrying small baskets, shouting "chana jor garam". This is the Bombay-style mixture of chana, sprinkled with chilli powder and lime. Amazing way to start!
Once done, make your way towards vendors selling phuchkas, jhaal muri, bhel puri and various other chats. All these are quite good but don’t give the pav bhaji at Mayaram a miss. You get loads of varieties, including a special pav bhaji stuffed with dry fruits. Wash this down with a masala Thums Up or a soda shikanji and round it off with a kulfi.
Camac Street, outside Vardan Market
You just can’t enter Vardan Market without negotiating the long queue at the chat stalls outside it. The phuchka and muri here are worth the wait but the chillas and moong dal vadas with pudina and chilli-garlic chutney are a specialty. Also try the papri chat and batata puri at the bhel vendor.
Some of the city's best phuchka and chat are sold right here at Russel Street , next to a few of the most popular restaurants of the Kolkata. A stone’s throw away from Park Street, Russel Street lures you with an array of palate-teasing tucks: phuchka, bhel, chat, pakora, chop and roll. The dish to lap up, however, is the ghugni chat, spiced with shredded ginger and green chilli with a dash of lime. Mmmm mouthwatering!
Street food in Kolkata is a way of life. And people don’t turn to this because of its value-for-money benefits, but for the mind-blowing taste that compels them to come back for more.