We’ve had food walk in different parts of Kolkata- multiple times. But somehow, food in Burrabazar, Kolkata had always remained an enigma to me. Burrabazar is the trading hub of Kolkata and is flocked by thousands of Gujrati and Marwari traders and businessmen, among others. So, the food in Burrabazar is predominantly vegetarian fare (barring probably Royal India Hoteland Zakaria Street/ Colootola area) and more inclined towards some delicious gujrati and marwari specialty. Being a typical no-non-veg bong, this are was kind of enigma for me. So, when Good vegetarian Food Of Calcutta, food group organized a food walk in that part of the city mainly featuring veg street food in burrabazar, I probably was the first one jumping. And this blogpost will talk on that foodwalk.
So, the last time I was enjoying the vegetarian food in that part of the city, it was a venture into the Marwari basa food there. Basas were set up in the early thirties near the Burrabazar / M G Road area, mainly to feed the local marwari and Gujarati population. As they had shifted their base in this city and were missing their home cooked food like anything, some enthusiast arranged few maharaj (specialty cooks) from the western part of the country and set up canteens here. The food is mostly simple. Rice, khichdi (on a holiday or if one’s lucky), one or two varieties of dal, one or two types of sabzi and all the package (with unlimited serving) comes at a very very nominal price. Local traders and basically everybody avails their service and it gives them a ghar-ka-khana feelings. You can check it in details here …
Kandoi sweets for Gulaab Paak, and other farsan
But this walk started from Nakhoda Masjid chitpur. This area is famous for the beef offerings there and is a heaven for a good meatwalk. You have to take the lane bang opposite to the Nakhoda Masjid across the Rabindra Sarani and towards Bagri market. The destination was Kandoi Sweets. Among the food in Burrabazar, It’s one of the very few shops in town specializing in Sindhi cuisine and is very famous in the city.
This 180+ year old shop (or so I was told) is a really small one and is run by the third generation young entrepreneur named Pranav Rathod. The shop is pretty small and hard to find for an unknown person. But judging a book by its cover is not really a great idea. Our first item was Gulaab Paak and it literally bowled me out. The taste was completely different from what I was used to. It was kind of Kalakand with rose petals and probably a bit of coloring. The base ingredient was kheer, rather malai (not very sure) flavored with rose petals … When we reached, it was a bit early and the gulaab paak was just freshly made, basically unsettled and of a gooey consistency. Once settled, it was supposed to be like a Kalakand. It’s priced at 460/- a kg.
The next item was a typical Sindhi item named Pakwaan. Pakwaan is like a flaky deep-fried biscuit flavored with light spices. In the Sindhi cuisine, it’s taken with chana dal over breakfast. But the size was pretty big and can easily be shared among 3-4 persons. And then came the dish which is very typical to one particular region. In fact, seldom comes a dish, which is the monopoly of a specific region- Porbandar. It’s called Khajali. Again, it’s kind of super crispy deep fried biscuit and is a savory item. It’s made with grind flour and has to be fried with ghee. Khajali is priced at 240/- a kg . Definitely recommended. But, I was looking for some known items and probably sensing that, along came Fafda.
Fafda is a very famous Gujarati snack and savored during Dussera. It’s made with Besan and flavored with ajwain. Sliced raw papaya and fried chilly is enjoyed with it. But frankly, it didn’t go well with my palate. But, all said and done, the best item was saved for the last- Dry Kachori. It’s just like the Bengali Khasta kachori- ball-shaped, fried with ghee and stuffed with minced dry fruits along with other items. The stuffing was super tangy and really stood out among the food in Burrabazar. It’s priced at 320/- a KG.
Please remember something. the area is extremely congested, stuffy and walking or pushing the bike are the only two options. So, be careful and take care of your belongings. You can take a look at the normal scenario there. The below Dosa seller seemed super-popular among the locals, but sadly, I didn’t get a chance to savor it. Maybe some other time. Also, I saw something unique here. It was an automatic spice vending machine at amartalla, beside the Kotak Mahindra Bank. Someday, definitely, I’ll go and buy spices from there.
Ambika Bhujiyawala for Pyaz ki kachori
The next stop was for another super famous food in Burrabazar, named Pyaz ki Kachori. It’s a deep-fried Khasta kachori kinda thing stuffed with fried and cooked onion. It originated in probably in Jodhpur and is very popular throughout Rajasthan. It’s said, in Kolkata, the best Pyaz Kachori is available at Jay Ambika Bhujiyawala. This place is around 5-8 min walking distance from Kandoi Sweets.
The Pyaz Ki Kachori came with an assortment of chutney. Pyaz ki kachori is very popular in Rajasthan, as it’s said that the onion stuffing helps keep the body cool. And off course, it’s a long-perishable item. The pyaz ki kachori (priced at 12/- a pc) is served there on leaf plates and chutney is poured on top of it- sadly making it soggy. Somehow, I am sure that there are better variants of this thing available somewhere, and this stuff here didn’t quite appeal to me. The onion stuffing was a bit less, to my preference. Wherein, the Dabeli there was good- damn good. Dabeli is basically a Gujarati burger originating from the Kachch region, stuffed with bhujiya, pomegranate seeds and boiled potato with Dabeli masala mixture. If I go again to this place, which I will, it’ll be for this item. It’s priced modestly at 30/- a pc.
Sree Gopal Kulfi-wala
After all these savory items, it’s time for some sweets and we were taken to a small shop opposite to SBI Burrabazar branch for Kulfi. Now, kulfi is one of my weakness. In fact, it’s been India’s weakness since the Mughal era. The reference can be traced from the book Ain-i-Akbari. Kulfi is a Parsi word, derived from the Parsi word Qulfi (meaning covered cup), which has an Arabic origin. In earlier days, Himalayan ice was transported to make this Indian variety of frozen dessert.
the hole-in-the-wall is crowded- damn crowded and there is always a flow of people moving on the pavement in front of the shop. You’ll have to wait patiently for your turn to get your Kulfi. But trust me, the wait is worth. I can safely vouch that this is the best kulfi that I’ve tasted in my entire life- period. The texture is hard yet smooth, made of full-bodied creamy milk and basically hard to stop at one. They make a standard regular variety, Kesar Pista Kulfi, and various seasonal fruit Koolfi. On prior orders and if manpower is available, for a bulk order, they do home delivery as well. If you come across this side, do not miss it. I repeat- do not miss it.
And it’s time to cross the tram line and get on the other side. On the other side, the first stop was the legendary Kaligodam. And it’s cult boondi and Kachori Sabzi in the morning. But, when we reached there, fresh Boondi was getting ready and the uncle frying them was looking at us unhappily. We had some boondi and moved on to the next shop for the surprise.
Dry malai at Yadav Milk Supply
A few meters ahead, on left, lied Yadav Milk Supply and the shop specializes in only one item- malai. Now, malai is very common, but what we got here, was slightly different. It was dry malai and dry malai roll. The malai was dried and it got the consistency of a thin sheet. Sugar was not used and the natural sweetener in milk was the only sweetening agent. It’s divine and I was told it can be stored for 4-5 days. But warning, it gets over by 4 PM and please be ready to be disheartened.
Badri curry kachori wala
Next stop was a spiral whirlwind and describing the road is almost impossible for me. But if you ask anybody for Badri curry kachori-wala, you can understand where you’re supposed to go.
Now, this is a stall, or rather a slice beside a wall and is almost always flocked by a steady crowd. The gentleman pours hot sabzi over kachori and tops it with bhujiya. It’s a strange combination, but the result is very good and definitely recommended.
Dilip chaiwala for kesaria chai
Now, be it burrabazar, be it some other place, a true blue Kolkattan can’t survive without a cup of tea and I was taken inside a building. The landmark was the sandwich maker at the entrance of the building and please note this to identify the spot. We’ were supposed to go to Dilip chaiwala for his famed Kesaria Chai. While I was looking for the shop, they guided me towards a small hole behind the open area and voila, inside, there was a queue for Kesaria Tea. It’s thick tea with full-bodied milk and topped with strands of Kesar. At 14/- a kulhar, it’s pure bliss. I’ve had Kesaria tea in many other places, but as compared to this place, they really couldn’t stand a chance.
Milk seller at the crossing of Rabindra Sarani
And we were too full for the day, and I was coming back, I was about to cross Rabindra Sarani when a small corner shop took my attention. it sold milk and only milk products- full cream milk was getting boiled for countless hours and the color changed to brownish. The head was getting removed from time to time for Rabri. And, once anybody asks for the milk, the server was doing some juggling with milk. Probably he got interested in watching me click him, the juggling got extended for me, and I got to taste a kulhar of pure love. Hot thick boiled milk, naturally sweetened … and trust me, hardly anything matched it. I forgot the name of the shop, but once someone starts from Dilip Chaiwala towards Rabindra Sarani, it’s at the junction.
The total pocket pinch for this whole walk was around 180/- per head and I got to taste the real food or rather hidden gems of Burrabazar. Definitely, there are other places hidden in this area and I’ll have to have a few more rounds to know them. Till them, do let me know for your favorites in the comment segment, for me to explore.