Bengalis are innate food-lovers, wherever they travel they imbibe the cuisine of that region. Their love for food knows no bound. The city of their dwellings Kolkata is rich with gastronomical delights. So much so that one can trace the history of Calcutta by following food trends- from the old delights of north Calcutta to nostalgic sophisticated restaurants of South Calcutta. This city lives by its gastronomical experiences.
A land where the old merges with the new. Different cuisines and delicacies have evolved here– from the Mughal period to British Raj to the 21st -century fusion food. Hence, you will get to see a vast range of signature dishes in this city which are quite different from their original sources, like the Calcutta biriyani which is different from Awadhi or Nizami cuisine. It has become Calcutta’s signature Biriyani- much like Calcutta Chinese flavour which differs from the actual Chinese cuisine.
A proper Bengali thali, Pic Courtesy: Outlook Traveller
Over the years, numerous restaurants have come up. Everyday several more are awaiting to enter the market. However, there are certain restaurants which makes Calcutta the way it is, a foodie’s paradise. These iconic restaurants have hold their ground. They have become custodians of the Calcutta Gastronomy. Here is a guide to Calcutta’s scrumptious cuisine.
One of the oldest restaurants of Calcutta, located in heart of the city – Park Street. It is as famous as the Howrah bridge of Calcutta. People swear by Peter Cat and their Chelo Kebab. Almost every resident of the city will advise you to try this a once. The waiters in this restaurant are dressed in the traditional attire from the times of British rule. The very nature of being served by them might transport you to the colonial era. Their iconic dish, Chelo kebab consists of delicious platter of steamed rice served with a poached egg and 2 types of kebab. A meal for 2 people comes under the budget of Rs 1500
Chelo Kebab of Peter Cat, Pic Courtesy: Belly Centric
A Swiss bakery from the times of the British Empire, to remind us of the olden days. This Calcutta masterpiece is one of the major attractions for gourmand. This 1927 restaurant is famous for its English breakfast. People throng this place in winter, especially during the Christmas week. Located in Park street just opposite to the lane of Peter Cat, this eatery offers a genuine English breakfast comprising of ham and bacon sausages, poached egg and toast. The cost of a meal for 2 is just under Rs 1500.
Breakfast at Flury’s, Pic Courtesy: Conde Nast Traveller
This small restaurant in South Kolkata offers the best Bengali thali in town. It is one of the earliest restaurants specialising in Bengali cuisine. Located just behind Netaji Bhavan in Bhawanipur, this eatery provides a complete Bengali thali for 2 in just Rs1000. The full platter serves lunchi (kind of a puri), dal, baigan bhaja (fried eggplant slices), shukto (a mixed vegetable with sweet and sour taste), 2-3 vegetable dishes including one cooked with banana flower called “mochar ghonto”, along with fish, egg and mutton delicacies. The Bengali special Hilsa, mutton kasha and chingri are sure to be on the list. Added to these, complements like payesh and rosogolla, chutney and papar are served with thali. Evidently, it provides a magnificent 3course King size meal.
Bengali New Year’s Special Thali at Kewpie’s. Pic Courtesy: The Telegraph
Giving stiff competition to Kewpie’s, Oh! Calcutta is another Bengali cuisine super-speciality chain of restaurants. Situated in EM Bypass Dhapa, this Calcutta gem is like Kewpie’s. They serve all Bengali specialty delicacies including a complete thali. The variety components of thali here are lesser than that in Kewpie’s Thali. You can get Bengali specialties like dub chingri (prawns cooked inside green coconut), chingri malaikari (prawns cooked in coconut milk), macher paturi (fish cooked with mustard inside a banana leaf). These Bengali specialty restaurants are eco-friendly and traditional in nature. They serve in earthen dishes along with banana leaves to give the essence of Bengal.
Bengali Dinner at Oh! Calcutta. Picture Courtesy: Trip Advisor
This a Mughal cuisine speciality restaurant spread out throughout the city. Among which Park Street and Park Circus harbours the most promising outlets. They serve the most delicious Biriyani in town. It is served in the Calcutta style, with one piece of chicken or mutton and one potato. The signature of a true Calcutta Biriyani is in its aroma. A full plate of biriyani costs around Rs 150. Along with biriyani, they have a range of kebabs, halim, firni etc.
Mutton Biriyani of Arsalan. Pic Courtesy: Ungree Food Trails
Located in central Calcutta, this Mughal cuisine specialty restaurant is famous for its Kathi Kebab rolls. Amidst the bustling new market area of Kolkata, this outlet is serving the town since 1926. It introduced the concept of rolls in this city. Since then Calcutta had a liaison with rolls – so much so that you will find a snack parlor selling rolls in every alley of the city. Rolls are nothing but a white wheat flour parantha wrapped around chicken, mutton, beef, vegetables, or paneer in adequate spices. But none of these outlets compete with Nizam. Nizam’s also offer a variety of kebabs and biriyani. A roll costs around Rs50-60 while a biriyani commands a price Rs120.
Nizam’s in the new market of Kolkata. Picture Courtesy: TripAdvisor
7Royal Indian Hotel
This is the oldest biriyani serving restaurant of Calcutta. Located in 147 Rabindra Sarani Barabazar region of Central Calcutta, this is the first Mughlai cuisine restaurant of Kolkata. It gave birth to the Calcutta Biriyani as a brand of its own. Before several Mughlai cuisine chains like Arsalan came up, this was the sole biriyani outlet in Calcutta. It is still going strong and has recently started a new outlet in the Park Circus region, near Quest Mall. Their mutton chap is nothing less than their biriyani. A meal for two costs Rs 500-600.
Delicacies from the Royal Indian Hotel. Pic Courtesy: TripAdvisor
8Indian Coffee House
It is the place where you go for a great Bengali group conversation or “adda”- as they call it. This place is known for its rich heritage and historic importance.. The iconic restaurant in College Street is known for its uninhibited adda sessions. Here you can overhear any kind of conversations from politics to current affairs to groceries shopping. This place boasts of intellectual heritage as many laurels used to visit here. There is a famous Bengali song by Manna Dey named “Coffee Houser Adda” dedicated for the place. The walls are decorated with paintings of Rabindranath Tagore and other Indian laurels. It serves tea, coffee, chowmein, fried rice, toast, omelet, fish fry and other types of snacks. The maximum price here is Rs120, definitely easy on pocket.
Inside the Indian Coffee House. Pic Courtesy: Walksofkolkata.com
Mitra Café, little outlet situated near Sobhabazar Metro Station of North Calcutta, is one of the most popular snacks parlour in the city. This mundane and inexpensive looking place is famous for its chicken cutlets, fish kabiraji, diamond kabiraji etc (Kabiraji are a type of cutlets made up of eggs and white wheat flour coatings). This doesn’t pinch our pockets, with costing in the range of 60-80 Rs. This savoury snacks outlet has spread its wings in other parts of the city as well. It has recently started operating in Golpark South Calcutta, Dumdum and others.
Diamond Kabiraji of Mitra Café. Picture Courtesy: Kolkatar Khabar Dabar
A full-fledged South Indian restaurant of Calcutta. This restaurant serves core south indian menu like dosas, idlis, sambar vada etc. Located near Rashbehari Avenue of South Calcutta, this South Indian restaurant started operating in 2002. Since then it has been successful in impressing people by the food they serve. Along with regular South Indian delicacies, they also serve a wholesome platter containing rice, sambar, rasam, kuttu, potato curry and pickles. What better than this to experience the south in West Bengal!
South Indian Thali from Banana Leaf. Pic Courtesy: Banana Leaf
Another well-known Bengali cuisine outlet. It is lesser known than Kewpie’s and Oh! Calcutta. Situated in Hindusthan Park region of South Calcutta, this place serves sumptuous Bengali meal of rice, a fried vegetable, dal, vegetable dish, fish and meat, ending with a chutney and a sweet dish. Their pricing is lesser than that in Oh! Calcutta.
A Bengali thali from Bhojohari Manna Pic Courtesy: Bhojohari Manna
126 Ballygunge Place
Located in Ballygunge of South Calcutta, this is another outlet offering authentic Bengali food. Its lovely décor and the rustic ambience of 20th-century bungalow designed with appropriate pictures takes you in to the Bengali heartland. The place is ideal for a perfect Bengali meal. Dab chingri (prawn cooked with mustard inside a coconut) and Kosha mangsho (spiced mutton) are the most sought after delicacies.
Bengali Thali from 6, Ballygunge Place. Pic Courtesy: Bytplus.com
A restaurant of North Calcutta known for their Kosha Mangsho (spiced mutton curry). This place stands in the Shyambazar Crossing, near the Shyambazar Metro station of North Calcutta. It is said that people walking on the roads are drawn by the aroma of the spiced mutton curry. Such is its predominance that one never leaves Shyambazar without savouring golbari’s kosha mangsho. It is quite affordable and comes under a budget of Rs250.
Kosha Mangsho (Spiced Mutton Curry) from Golbari Pic Courtesy: Maa Mati Manush TV
This pub of Calcutta stands in Park Street. This place is known for its steak platter. Apparently, they sell the best steak in town, pricing Rs 1600.
Beef Steak at Olypub’s. Pic Courtesy: One And A Half Minutes.
15Nahoums and Sons
This Jewish Bakery situated in New Market region of Central Calcutta is the oldest bakery. They are well known for their variety of cakes and plum cakes. The savory items are equally delicious. 4 generations of a Jewish family runs this bakery.
Sweet Buns at Nahoums and Sons. Pic Courtesy: Munchies
16Shiraz Golden Restaurant
Another biriyani outlet located at the heart of Calcutta. This sophisticated restaurant registers its presence in the Mallick Bazaar region of Calcutta. It serves a variety of biriyani including Hyderabadi biriyani. The pricing is affordable and costs under Rs150. Other than Biriyanis it serves a range kebabs and side dishes.
Mutton Biriyani at Shiraz. Pic Courtesy: Kolkata Foodies
Another jewel in the crown of Calcutta. This famous biriyani brand of the city has spread its branches all over the city. This well-known eatery is in the new market area in Central Calcutta. It serves the famous Calcutta Biriyani.
Awadhi Biriyani at Aminia, New Market Pic Courtesy: Vagabomb
A multi-cuisine restaurant located in Dover’s Lane, Ballygunge, South Kolkata. This spacious restaurant has great ambiance with minimalistic decorations of books and movies. The place serves good grilled food at affordable prices. The menu includes pork chops, pork ribs, pan seared ducks, Lamb steaks. The kebabs served here are mouth relishing. The pricing is moderate between Rs 250-300.
Kebabs at Rubi’s Grill Pic Courtesy: Bytplus.com
Located near ManoharPukur road of south Kolkata, this place serves one of the best South Indian dishes in the city. While most South Indian restaurants stick to idli, dosa, sambar vada and uthappam, this is one restaurant which surprises you with differently authentic Keralan cuisine. These dishes from Kerala have unleashed new doors to the food-lovers of Calcutta. This newly opened joint has already become an icon due to its unique delicacies. Mutton Olathedde, Iddiapams and Unniapams are the most sought after delicacies.
Ammini, Pic Courtesy: Burp!
This is a small outlet serving in the Dackers Lane of Central Avenue Region of Central Kolkata. The variety of snacks and street food available here is enthralling. It is primarily known for the chicken stew which chittoda- the owner is selling for 50 years. Variety of street food like fish fry, cutlets, Calcutta type Chinese fried noodles are available. The price is as low as Rs50-60. Because of its uniqueness and individuality this small roadside stall features among the famous outlets of Calcutta.
Chicken Stew at Chitto dar dokan. Pic Courtesy: Polka Café
These are the iconic restaurants of Calcutta which trace the gastronomy of Calcutta. One surely can’t afford to miss on these mouth-watering servings whenever they visit this City of Joy! The food will indeed bring a smile on your face and feeling of being contented. Happy food to us all!