The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
Kolkata Maidan- The lungs of the city. Lovingly shot by Arindam Patra.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Kolkata Street Food Hunt I

Ramesh Pandit
Southern Avenue is my favourite street in the city. It is very, very green, the sidewalks are clean and wide and there is not much of a public transport causing sound and air polution. But its other attraction is its wide ranging food zone- awesome street food to restaurant fare, a characteristic yet unexplored by me. Not that I was unaware of the iconic doi phuchka at Vivekananda Park though.

So when I read in today's T2 (The Telegraph's tabloid supplement Mon-Sat) about this old and popular phuchkawala- Ramesh Pandit at Lake View Rd- Southern Avenue crossing, I decided to try his fare at once. I did so in the evening with doi phuchka and regular phuchka. I know that looks like quite a weird combo, but as it is I am essentially a savoury person and can't exactly take much of a sweet-savoury mix (That was doi phuchka), and hence I had to end it with tangy phuchkas. The doi phuchka (A plate of 6 pc comes at Rs 25) tasted really good, but it is not my thing. The phuchka, well, with due respect to his patrons, scored low with me. Reason is, the water didn't taste much sour. It needed more mashed tamarind. Apart from the staple doi phuchka, phuchka and churmur, his other offerings are alur dum, alu chaat and dahi vada. Will surely come back to him for alur dum and alu chaat.

A bit of trivia: He is in the business for 42 years. He uses home-boiled water so that it is safe for even children, and his phuchkas are homemade too, that ensures they stay crispy round the year.

Southern Avenue has phuchkawalas lined up at Vivekananda Park boundary wall, and all of them offer alur dum and doi phuchka, as I found out today. Unlike North, alur dum is quite popular in South Kolkata. And that brings me to the next location featured in this post.

One finds him at Dakshinapan entrance. A phuchkawala whose alur dum has a long list of loyal customers. It comes at Rs 5 per serving, containing 5 pc of notun alu (Small, round potatoes. A seasonal variety but available with phuchkawalas round the year.). The USP of this deliberately underdone preparation is the spicy gravy You have a choice of adding a sweet chutney to it. Rajendra claims even children can have this speciality.