Being a bengali পেটুক, born in Kolkata, I have a certain mental blockage against eating bengali food at a restaurant. I always calculate mentally which fish costs what at the fish market and what price I am paying for it at the eatery. Solely, due to this reason, I prefer a Pice Hotel than a posh “authentic bengali restaurant” anyday. And , here, I would love to write on one of my favorites in city.
Now, why its called a pice hotel ? As far as my knowledge goes, this concept started a few decades back, in the era where things were available in paisa and then a full meal here (the basic ones) were available at the cost of a few paisa. Hence, people used to call them paisa hotel- pais hotel- pice hotel. Don’t worry please, these are pretty cheap (commercially) and VFM hotels- even today…….
First things first. Today, I’ll share my experience in one of the oldest bengali pice hotel in south Kolkata- the Adarsha Hindu hotel, gariahat market
How to go and when to go ?
Once in Kolkata and especially south Kolkata, you can not miss the huge gariahat market complex. Enter the same and go to the first floor of new complex. Ask anyone for the pice hotels, and you’ll land up here. This place operates on all days and is open from 9 AM to 4 PM and again 630 PM- 930 PM.
The hotel (as they call themselves and not a restaurant)
This is almost a 60 year old place. The owner’s name is Kalipada Maity who is the second generation businessman. They serve you fresh catch of the day from the market below and hence all the ingredients are fresh. Aquaguard water is served, hence you need not worry on that, however mineral water is available at a price.
Rules in a pice hotel
- There is no formal menu card. You get in a, see what’s available and get your food. Rice, dal, aloo bhaja is standard fare and other items, you’ve to order seperately
- Do not faint if someone comes and shares your table-space. Here, tables do get shared
- If you are a vegetarian, you may opt off one such place. The jewels of this place are its non-veg dishes
- Tip the waiter generously while leaving. He’ll remember you on your next visit (important for the size of the fish piece)
What I got
As soon as I sat down with my friends, we got served an empty plate with banana-leaf covered and water in earthen bhands. He asked for the standard meal, which we ordered – consisting of rice, dal, aloo bhaja and panchmesheli sabzi (mixed veg).
The rice was served hot and of a good quality. Dal was pretty good and of a homely taste. We moved towards our next dish- মৌরলা মাছের চচ্চড়ি (A mixed sabzi with pumpkin, brinjal, sliced potato and mourola fish). It was not very spicy but tasty enough to gulp it down hungrily.
Next came the variety of non-veg brigade for which this place is famous for:
We were supposed to have this vetki fry with dal and aloo-bhaja and was served hot- fresh from the kadai. Its was approx 150 grm in size and good for sharing between 2 persons.
Next was one hell of a Tengra fish. ট্যাংরা তেল ঝোল…. This is a king sized original tengra cooked in a moderately spicy oily gravy. Simply yummy and was finished in no time.
The পাবদা সর্ষে বাটা (pabda fish in mustard sauce) was good but personally I felt is as less spicy than it should be. Fish piece was good though and the quality was awesome
কৈ মাছের তেল ঝোল – Now this is one koi fish dish that I really liked. Its cooked in the same onion gravy as tengra but the tengra was more saunf flavored whereas the koi is more garam masala flavored.
After all these spicy dishes, the stomach needed some rest and the next dish provided the same. Its called বোয়াল মাছের ঝল। The boal fish is cooked in a less spicy manner with potato and is pretty good. The boal was mid-sized and not very oily….. but ok- you can’t have everything.
The next 2 items are extremely popular in any bengali cuisine/ party and is easily recognizable.
চিংড়ি মাছের মালাইকারি- an extremely popular mild prawn dish cooked with coconut milk and grated coconut. Galda prawn is used here. Again a mismatch. I personally prefer this prawn malaicurry without onion, but this one had onion in it and is oh-ok-s0-what type with me. The freshness of the fish saved the day for me but my partners liked it thoroughly……. well, personal choice !!!
কচি পাঁঠার ঝোল – Its basically a mild flavored mutton curry with potato cooked with tender lamb- a la bengali ishtyle. The specialty of this dish is it has to be less spicy (yes), has to be with less garam masala and cumin flavored (hell yes) and to be cooked with potato (we are bongs- remember ? )
Well, we are full and probably need a crane to take us out of the table. The bill ? wish all the above items, with 3 veg thali (remember the rice, dal, aloo bhaja …. ) came to arond 720/- . Happy we were and blessed these pice hotel owners. We left for the day- full and happy …..
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Bon apetite !!!