Kolkata, the East Indian city I grew up in, is known for her gastronomic heritage.The seat of 19th century Indian Renaissance, recognized as the City of Palaces and rebranded as the City of Joy, Kolkata has never stopped being the perfect paradise for foodies across the globe. The culinary history of Kolkata starts off with traditional Bengali cuisine followed by the embellishments of Nawabi, European and Chinese influences added over the centuries by the city’s early foreign settlers. Kolkata cuisine is, therefore, the perfect mix of tradition and fusion. What surprises me most is Kolkata never stops innovating or experimenting with human taste buds. Every time I visit her, I would be inevitably floored by a host of new restaurants, each uniquely delightful in its own way. Being the foodie that I am, I have put together a must-check-out list of my never-before-visited Kolkata restaurants for an upcoming trip next March. Since, I’ll be staying in Kolkata for a week, I’ve shortlisted seven restaurants to stop by. And Thanks! to their online menus and feedback from friends and family to help me with my list!
1. Oh! Calcutta: Their soup selection looks okay, with more excitement in the appetizer section, where I find Mochar Chop (traditional Bengali style dumplings stuffed with young plantain flowers), and Kakra Chingri Bhapa (freshwater shrimp and crab baked together) most intriguing. Among their entrees, I would definitely like to try their Karaishutir Dhokar Dalna (I’m guessing this will be a curry of baked green peas cakes) , Boneless Bhapa Ilish (smoked Hilsa) and some Murg Morich Pulao (again I’m assuming this to be Basmati rice cooked with chicken and pepper). If I’ve room for desserts, I would opt for some Mishti Doi, the sweet rich yogurt Kolkata is famous for.
2. Mocambo: My aunt, a Mocambo enthusiast herself, is planning to treat me there and can’t stop raving about their Devilled Crab (yeah, spelt with 2 ls), Chicken Shashlik A La Russe (no idea what this is), and Murg Musallam (chicken cooked Mughlai style). So, I know what I’m getting here.
3. Arsalan: My Dad has already made it clear that his main motivation of visiting this place is the amazing Biriyanis (meat and spices cooked in flavored rice) they make; so I pretty much know what we’re ordering here.
4. Padmaparer Rannaghar: Umm, this can be interesting: food cooked in authentic Bangladeshi style. Although I myself have no roots in Bangladesh, I would like to take my husband to this place as his early ancestors were originally from Bangladesh. I also like their online menu, quite a teaser with food names they have experimented with. We are planning to try Kolkatar Ashnai Chingrir Lal Shak (prawn cooked with amaranth leaves), Dal Paturi (random guess: some sort of baked lentil), and Shorshe Diey Pomfret (pomfret cooked in mustard sauce).
5. Mrs. Magpie: Heard about this from a friend and their menu selection somewhat reminded me of Andersen Bakery & Cafe. My college batchmates are planning to hold a quick reunion here, owing to the rave reviews of Mrs. Magpie’s cupcakes, scones, sandwiches and various platters.
6. Bachan’s Dhaba: Don’t kill me for saying this, but despite being a self proclaimed foodie, I’ve never dined in a Dhaba before. Dhaba, or as roadside restaurants are known in India, mostly in Punjab, are known for their rustic style of cooking. This will be my first time with this school of cooking and I would like to sample their Laccha Paratha (bread fried in a multi-layered style), Matar Paneer (cottage cheese cooked with green peas), and Chicken Curry (finally something self explanatory).
7. Indthalia: My Mom has recommended their Fish Finger With Tartar Sauce, Veg Pie and Chicken Diana (chicken steak with brown sauce and served with garlic toast).
Plans can always change, but I feel this is pretty good to start with. By the time I bid adieu to Kolkata, I would surely have put on a few extra pounds, but would have my craving for unique Indian cuisine, fusion style as well as madly Bengali style, largely satiated.