Those Are intrinsic in Bengali Palettes, Streets and Hotels in Kolkata
Food is undoubtedly the most essential part of Bengali household. Come recession or inflation, the food-lovers of Kolkata neither restrict themselves from visiting super-expensive restaurants to taste the multiple cuisines nor stop buying the fresh vegetables or the choicest fish from the markets, irrespective of their inflated prices.
If you want to understand the pulse of Kolkata, then knowing it’s food culture should be in your to-do list. Bengalis love their food- either cooked hot and fresh in their household kitchen or made with a twist from the pantries of 3-star hotels in Kolkata.
But if we look back, the food history of Kolkata is dated back to the historical events like the arrival of British troops in India, the partition of East India or various traditional festivals.
In a sense, Kolkatans are extremely flexible and absorbing like a sponge when it comes to food from different culture.
Not only the posh star hotels or 3-star hotels in Kolkata, even many Kolkata cheap hotels offer tasty food at a very reasonable price.
The popularity of rolls in Kolkata has an interesting history. It’s said that in 1932, the legendary mughlai food-cum-kebab eatery Nizam was founded in Kolkata.
It was located in a busy street where many offices were located. So the chefs of Nizam did a quick recipe of filling up the flatbread/ paratha with various kebabs inside and then rolled it up for quick bites, aiming busy office-goers or English sahibs.
From then on, rolls have revamped it in many ways and always keep abreast with contemporary times. From using chicken/mutton/beef kebabs, we now have fusion rolls like egg-paneer roll, chicken-paneer roll, paneer-veg roll, mutton-egg roll etc.
Book yourself a day to take a tour of legendary rolls-shops of Kolkata. It will leave you crave for more.
Mishti Doi(sweetened yogurt)
Mishti Doi is another delicacy that is inseparable from the identity of Kolkata. How often do wee see the interviews of Bollywood stars where they claim their love and cravings for mishit doi unanimously?
There are two popular variations of mishit-doi, one is laal doi (the reddish yogurt) and another is sada doi (the white yogurt). Mishti doi is always served in an earthen pot and it enhances the charm of relishing this sweetdish.
In initial years, mishit doi was a popular form of food offering (orPrasad)in various Hindu Bengali pujas like Durgapuja or Saraswati puja.
But gradually it became popular in our everyday lives and emerged as one of the most popular Bengali desserts of all time.
Aloo-posto (potatoes in pasted poppy-seeds)
Aloo-posto is the traditional Bengali vegetarian dish that both veg and non-veg eaters relish with aplomb. So much so that, from the humble kitchens of typical Bengali households, Aloo-posto earned itself a very well deserving place in the kitchens of five- star hotels in Kolkata.
The interesting trivia behind aloo-posto is that earlier, it was the quintessential dish of people from west Bengal, who are loosely termed as ghoti in colloquial Bengali. The bangals or those who lived in erstwhile East Bengal (right now Bangladesh) used to snigger at the frivolity of the dish (given how easy it is to make and the little ingredients it takes).
But after the partition Bengal, when the influx of bangal migrants started to grow in Kolkata or rather in the whole west Bengal, aloo-posto became unanimously popular in both types of households.
During your visit to Kolkata, if you get invited by any of your local pals for lunch/dinner, request them to prepare aloo-posto for you. If the chances are nil, book yourself a table with any of the popular authentic Bengali eateries or any five star hotel’s restaurant where they serve Bengali delicacies. The chances are pretty high that you will get to taste the divine aloo-posto there.
The above three dishes form only the tip-of-the-iceberg. To explore the other precious gems (read: food) from Bengali kitchen, you need to visit Kolkata many a time.