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Calcutta/Kolkatta recommendations


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#1 mongo_jones

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 10:17 AM

i leave for india in 10 days. my wife and i will be in cal for 4 days and in delhi for the next 17. most of our time will be spent with friends and family--a lot of great home cooks in the family and so a lot of eating. however, while in cal i do want to introduce my wife (it is her first trip to india) to a couple of things: calcutta chinese food, mutton rolls and kathi kababs. getting my uncles and cousins to agree on the best place to get these things is like trying to broker peace between cats and dogs. strangely everyone defers to my youngest uncle on the matter of sweets but everything else is up for debate.

so cal-familiar egulleters: let me have it. where would you suggest we go?

#2 anil

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Posted 06 December 2003 - 03:22 PM

Sorry I cannot help you here. My last trip to Kolkatta was over 25 years ago.
anil

#3 v. gautam

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 07:46 PM

Dear Mongo,

My last trip was in 1988; however here are some fond memories from a distant past:

Waldorf [Park St.] prawn rolls a must, prawn noodle soup, mandarin fish
Peping [Park St.] ask for a private booth or send driver for takeout—fried chili chicken [my favorite, contrast with Waldorf style], fish balls in tomato sauce, fried pork chop, fried spring chicken, chicken chow mein [unique style-again contrast to Waldorf and other Chinese restaurants


Garlic prawns at a Chinese restaurant in Esplanade-Chitpur Rd. area? have forgotten name, strictly takeout

Shehnaz [Middleton Row , between Park and Camac Streets] Mr. Kohli was proprietor—chicken butter masala, chicken a la kiev [excellent-try this Calcutta style rendering], masala dosa

Nizam [New Market] kathi rolls double anda double mutton—don’t go in, park outside, young men will come to car and deliver order
Anadi Cabin [ SN Banerjee Rd. & Chowringhee] near Nizam-- moghlai paratha-try both double and single, savour the chewy dough of the single; also kasha mangsho, fish fry

Dilkhusha [near Shyama Charan De St. / Sanskrit College] must –dimer devil [must], chop-cutlet etc.
Chachar Chop [College Street area] mutton ‘chop’, kobiraji cutlet

Basanta Cabin [Hedor More, crossing Beadon & Cornwallis Sts] kobiraji cutlet

Bhim Nag- lal doi, phul kopir singhara [cauliflower samosa], babu sandesh, pantua

Kalika- nolen gurer sandesh
Putiram- Khirer chop

Fresh green coconut-lal dab, daber shansh
Kanthali kola


Check this site also :
Kolkata Beckons: Quintessence - Unique Things of Kolkata ( ...
... Aloo Posto: difficult to find any other vegetarian dish that tastes this
good. Moghlai Parota: nobody can better the ones at Anadi Cabin. ...
in.geocities.com/kolkatabeckons/unique.html - 17k

PM me if I can be of any further assistance. Have a safe trip and return safely. Best Wishes,
gautam

#4 mongo_jones

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 08:04 PM

gautam,

thanks for the recommendations and the good wishes. i will have to check with my sister and brother in law to see if these places still thrive. nizam's kathi kababs are of course a given. one can no more go to cal and not eat these than go to agra and not visit the taj.

Waldorf [Park St.] prawn rolls a must, prawn noodle soup, mandarin fish
Peping [Park St.] ask for a private booth or send driver for takeout—fried chili chicken [my favorite, contrast with Waldorf style], fish balls in tomato sauce, fried pork chop, fried spring chicken, chicken chow mein [unique style-again contrast to Waldorf and other Chinese restaurants


i think i have eaten at both waldorf and peping. in fact, i think my parents ate at peping in their college days.

Anadi Cabin [ SN Banerjee Rd. & Chowringhee] near Nizam-- moghlai paratha-try both double and single, savour the chewy dough of the single; also kasha mangsho, fish fry


never heard of this anadi cabin--will give it a try. however, i doubt they make kosha mangsho as well as my aunts; moghlai porotha on the other hand is a tougher proposition for the home-cook. as for fish-fry, the reason we are going to be in cal is for a bou-bhaat (the bou in question being my own). rest assured there will be major fish-fry action, as well as the other staples of the bengali wedding/bou bhaat celebrations.

are you from cal originally? my parents are both from there but my father being in the airforce we never actually lived there while i was growing up. my sister has been there since her wedding 12 years ago and almost my extended family is there. we used to visit cal once a year growing up and i still remember the thrill of eating certain things outside my grandmother's house almost every day--waiting for the kwality ice-cream man to come around as well as the jhal muri and puchka-wallas. man, i wish i could eat street puchka now, but i don't know if i would survive the experience. my system has been terribly weakend by 10 years in the first world.

regards,

mongo

#5 v. gautam

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Posted 07 December 2003 - 10:56 PM

Dear Mongo,

Four days AND a bou bhaat? Will the bou not be traumatized for decades to come? Smile. When I imagine the cool controlled serenity that I fondly associate with Korea with the unmitigated tumult and chaos that passes for normal in Bengali ‘big occasions’ [ to say nothing of Kolkata in general], the mind truly boggles! The place itself will be quite unnerving to her--- hope you are adequately inoculated against both typhoid and hepatitis? As you enter a different environment, the rotaviral flora in the alimentary canal will undergo change, possibly causing stomach upset; Imodium and kaopectate are fine, and stewed apple can offer a bland palatable meal that is also rich in pectin, useful for stomach upsets of this kind; pray pardon this presumption, but I worry about the bou, and like many Bengalis, assume an unfortunate officious and proprietary role; this passes for heartfelt concern in Bengal but irks people no end here; so, my apologies. Feel anxious that she have a very wonderful time.

Anyway, as regards street food, if you have the inoculations, you may want to try both phuchka and churmuri; the latter is aloo-kabuli with a copious handful of phuchkas crushed in; as far as I know, this is unique to Kolkata; the closest relative I have been able to trace is the ‘masala puri’ of Hyderabad (?). Anyway, Arbela Singh, next to Loreto’s in Middleton Row, used to be unexcelled; he is now dead, but perhaps his successor maintains the standards. If you are there, drop into Flury’s; the standards are abysmal now, but should they have Rum Balls, dense rum cake covered in chocolate, certainly worth a try; also their chicken sandwiches; not the same flury’s as in the 60s. though. Could add more, but that should be enough for 4 days! [ On the road orthogonal to Park Circus, 3 interesting establishment: 1) right at the corner of park circus, facing east towards the direction of Society Cinema and Haji Saheb’s Meat shop, there is a Muslim restaurant, the biggest and cleanest of several in that block, and distinguished by a ‘no beef’ sign: it has great tandoori roti and keema kababs, also pasandes; next, moving towards Theater road , there is Jimmy’s Kitchen: Chinese, excellent fried spring chicken; Then, past Theater road used to be Teenmurti: excellent chicken kabab etc.] and don’t forget, daber jol to sooth the stomach.

Best wishes,
gautam.

#6 bong

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Posted 08 December 2003 - 09:38 PM

Oh! Calcutta

This is a new place on Elgin Road (4th floor of the new swank shopping center, next to the movie multiplex).

I had an unbelievably good Bengali Buffet lunch here a couple of weeks back.
This restaurant is owned by the same person of "Mainland China" fame.

#7 mongo_jones

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Posted 09 December 2003 - 12:23 AM

Oh! Calcutta

This is a new place on Elgin Road (4th floor of the new swank shopping center, next to the movie multiplex).

I had an unbelievably good Bengali Buffet lunch here a couple of weeks back.
This restaurant is owned by the same person of "Mainland China" fame.

an unpromising name but we'll try to give it a whirl. my mother tries to talk me into going to aheli each time i go to cal--i think it is wonderfully exotic for her that there's a fancy restaurant serving hardcore bengali home food; i resist because i prefer my aunts' home cooking and feel that if i have to eat out in cal it should be things they don't make: the muslim foods, rolls and cal-chinese.

#8 BBhasin

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Posted 11 December 2003 - 02:15 PM

Man, I need to get back to Calcutta!
Spent some high school years there, then a few years working at the Airport Hotel.
My mouth is watering just thinking of all the places mentioned.

Thanks Gautam for the Imodium advise. I lose two days each trip to 'Delhi Belly'. Do you know of anything stronger??
Bombay Curry Company
3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club
Arlington, Virginia

#9 bong

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Posted 12 December 2003 - 09:48 PM

Unlike in the past, when it was extyremely difficult to have a good Bengali dining experience in Kolkata, there has recently been a spate of new restaurant openings -- restaurants serving good bengali food. Some of these are:

Suruchi, on Elliot Street. This is the old vanguard, run by a women's co-operative. Serves decent meals, not upscale.
Aheli, at Peerless Inn -- This restaurant started the "trend" of serving Bengali food in an upscale environment. Good in concept, but I was not impressed by the quality of the food here. But this was 6 years back. I need to go back there and check for myself if the food has improved.
Oh! Calcutta, on Elgin Road -- mentioned above.
Bhajohori Manna, in Mandeville Gardens -- have heard good things about this place.
Six Ballygunj Place -- A dinner only restaurant.
Kewpies -- serves bengali food.

Of these, I have only tried out Oh! Calcutta recently. I plan to do the others soon, and will report back.

#10 bong

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Posted 22 December 2003 - 11:08 PM

Here is my brief report on the Kolkata eateries I tried recently.

Oh! Calcutta
This is a new (two year old?) place, situated right next to the INOX movie multiplex inside the "Forum" shopping mall on Elgin road. I am normally not a fan of Indian lunch buffets, but the buffet at this place was delicious. This is what the buffet had:
* Rice
* Home-style moog dal (aka Moong)
* Alu bhaja (crispy fried shredded potatoes)
* There was a vegetable torkari, but I forgot what it was
* Doi maach ( Rohu fish, cooked in a Yogurt based sauce)
* Maangshor jhol ( Goat meat stew)
* Payesh (rice pudding)

The quality of each one of the dishes was superb. The ambience and service at this restaurant was very upscale. The buffet was cheap at Rs 250/- per person.

Bhojohori Manna
9/18 Ekdalia Road, Kolkata 700 019, Phone (33) 2440 1933
This is a brand new tiny place located in Ekdalia Road in Ballygunj. This place is co-owned by the renowned film-maker Goutam Ghosh. This place is supposed to evoke the memories of old time "pice hotels" (cheap eateries) of Kolkata. Three of us stopped here for lunch one day. We had the "thali" along with a non-veg item each:
* Rice
* Home style moog dal
* Aloo bhaja
* Mocha Ghonto (dish made from banana blossoms)
* Phool-kopi sorshe bata (Cauliflower florets cooked in a mustard sauce)
* Dhokar Dalna (Stew of deep fried dal-based fritters)
* Chitol maacher peti (stew made with Chitol fish steaks)
* Daab Chingri (Prawns in mustard sauce, braised/steamed inside of a whole green coconut)
* Maangsho Daakbangla (Fancy name for "Kosha Maangsho", aka spicy goat meat).
* Raabri (Sweet dish made from the skin that forms on heated milk)
* Mishti Doi

The mocha and the Chitol maach were especially good.
The total for three of us together was less than Rs. 600/-. Again, an extremely reasonable amount considering the quality of food.


6 Ballygunge Place
Phone: 30909743

This is an old Kolkata residence converted into a restaurant. A new place, about 4 months old. This is within walking distance of Bhojohori Manna. Two of us had dinner here, and we shared:
* Rice
* Moog Dal
* Mochar Paturi (Banana blossoms baked inside banana leaf wrapper)
* Bhaapa Ilish (Hilsa fish in mustard sauce, steamed)
* Kankrar Jhaal (Spicy crabs)
* Malpoa (this is a traditional home-made bengali sweet, made from deep fried Chhana based batter soaked in sugar syrup). This was served warm, served along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream with Malpoa is not traditional, but it made for an excellent combination.
* Chhanar Pudding (Chhanna is similar to cottage cheese)

Everything except the Kankra was excellent. The Kankra was good, but was a bit on the dry side. Total for two was about Rs 600/-. Ambience and service -- upscale.


Still left to check out -- Aheli, Suruchi and Kewpies. Too little time, too many places to try!

#11 bong

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Posted 25 December 2003 - 09:33 PM

I managed to check out Kewpies as well...
Kewpies
2 Elgin Lane (next to Netaji Bhavan), Kolkata 700020
Phone: (33) 2475 9880

This is a 6 year old place which I hadnt tried before. Started by the daughters of Minakshie Dasgupta (author of "The Bengal Cookbook" and "The Calcutta Cookbook").

This is also a tiny place. Two of us had lunch here. We ordered a "Niramish Thali" (vegetarian combo) and several otther separate dishes. The Niramish Thali came with rice, dal, begun-bhaja (eggplant/brinjal, deep fried), four kochuris, 4 vegetarian dishes, chatni, mishti doi, one rosogolla, papad and pan.

So between the two of us, we got to check out:

- Rice+dal
- Begun bhaja (a quartered brinjal, deep fried)
- Four koraishutir kochuri (Kochuri stuffed with mashed green peas; Kochuris are similar to bengali luchis, but slightly thicker)
- Mocha ghonto (made from banana blossoms)
- Phulkopir dalna (stew made with cauliflower florets)
- Puin shaker chorchori ( "Puin shak" is called vietnamese spinach or climbing spinach I think, but I am not sure. The dish had puin shak, kumro (kaddu), potatoes in it).
- Koraishutir Dhokar dalna (Dhoka is traditioanally made from dal paste, shaped into cubes. But this was made with mashed green peas, deep fried, and then a stew made with the deep fried cubes)
- Tel Koi (spicy preparation of Koi fish)
- Ilish paturi (Hilsa fish in mustard sauce, prepared inside a banana leaf wrapper. This particular prepartion used "boneless" Hilsa, which was a first for me)
- Chatni made from green tomatoes (Use of green tomatoes is very rare)
- Papad
- Rosogolla
- Mishti Doi (sweetened yogurt)
- Pan (Betel leaf with all kinds of fillings)

Total was little over Rs 600/-, which included a 10% service charge.

I know it is difficult to judge the food at a place after eating there only once, but if I was to rank all the four places only on the basis of quality of food, "Oh Calcutta!" and "Bhojohari Manna" would probably vie for the first place, then "6 Ballygunj Place" and then "Kewpies". If you take ambience and service into account, "Oh Calcutta!" would shoot ahead by a wide margin.

Next in line to check out -- Suruchi and Aheli. Not sure if I will have time...

#12 bong

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 05:22 AM

Aaheli
The Peerless Inn, 12 J L Nehru Road
Phone: (33) 2228 0301

This is the restaurant which originated the "trend" of upscale Bengali cuisine eateries. Two of us had lunch here. We each had a vegeterian thali, and shared a Bhetki Paturi (Bhetki fish, in mustard paste sauce, cooked inside a banana leaf wrapper). Each of the vegetarian thalis came with:
* Rice+Dal
* Bori bhaja ("Bori" is made from sun-dried dal paste with spices. These are then deep-fried)
* Aloo-phul kopir dalna (Potatoes+Cauliflower, braised/stewed)
* Jhinge-posto (I don't know the english name for jhinge. posto is poppy seeds)
* Dhokar dalna (Cubes made from dal paste. Cubes are then deep fried and then stewed)
* Pulao
* Chatni, made with aamshatto (mangoe leather) and tomatoes
* Papad
* Mishti -- gulabjamon

We also had "ghol" to drink. This is similar to lassi, except it was made with butter milk. Total for two came to about Rs 1100/-.

The ambience and service was very good. Unfortunately, the quality of food left something to be desired. The Dhoka was very bad, so was the Bhetki Paturi. The rest of the dishes were mediocre to good.

#13 anil

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Posted 29 December 2003 - 08:59 AM

* Jhinge-posto (I don't know the english name for jhinge. posto is poppy seeds)

Is it Prawn ? or is it Drumsticks ? My bong is really rusty :smile:
anil

#14 bong

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 02:59 AM


  * Jhinge-posto (I don't know the english name for jhinge. posto is poppy seeds)

Is it Prawn ? or is it Drumsticks ? My bong is really rusty :smile:

Neither.
Prawn is "Chingri Maach" and Drumsticks are "Shojne Daanta".
Jhinge is a vegetable, its long with ridges along the length. Perhaps its called "Ridged Gourd" -- its available in the San Francisco Bay area in the Asian Grocery stores, as well as in Farmers Markets. I will post the english name once I get back to the USA.

#15 v. gautam

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 02:33 PM

Jhinge : Luffa acutangula; aka Ridged Gourd, Chinese Okra.

#16 bong

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 02:31 PM

Economic Times article about Bhojohori Manna

And thanks to V. Gautam for explaining what a jhinge is. Are you a food industry professional by chance?

Edited by bong, 06 January 2004 - 02:31 PM.


#17 v. gautam

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 10:15 PM

bong,

Thanks very much for your detailed and excellent posts. Given the rapidly changing circumstances, many dishes involving skilled laborious preparation might well drop out of the food memories of this generation of upper class bengalis. Things like banana stem, banana blossom, Dillenia fruit[chalta], Feronia [kvathbel], green jackfruit come to mind. It is heartening that reasonably good restaurants are catering bengali specialties; in my time , Suruchi was the sole example.

In reply to your query, i am merely a student of plants. regards.

#18 bong

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Posted 12 January 2004 - 06:56 PM

I found an online Article about Kewpie's restaurant, and an Interesting article about dining in Kolkata

#19 Eastgate

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 07:39 PM

This fine thread has been quiet for years; what's best NOW in Kolkata?

Also, about street food: any advice on safety and prudence for Westerners traveling?