Apes evolved into early Neanderthals who evolved into modern day human beings. During this time, man became social and stayed together to mutually protect themselves and the males usually went out to gather food and hunt animals. They became hunters by nature while the females stayed back to take care of the children and their house in general. Jungles of trees gradually got replaced by concrete jungles and modern city life came into being. I am a resident of the modern times but the old hunter instinct has stayed with me. I still hunt for food. For good food the hunter has to be skilled in tracking, attacking and capturing the prey and for that they require perseverance, guts and strength. The modern day Hunter too requires the same set of skills. Firstly s/he has to persistently keep on exploring the city and interacting with different set of people to know the whereabouts of a good food joint. His tracking skills will take him there through many dangerous areas at times. If unguided or on new grounds, he has to dare venture into a new unknown food joint or hotel n restaurant with cash and card, both. Once there he will require depending solely on his skills, on which item to try out and which to avoid. He can take the help of all available signs and cues from next tables and waiters for better food guidance. On such hunting grounds, one should never feel shy to avoid being hunted themselves. They should also avoid attacking food with fancy names on the menu card if not understood or not recommended.  Once ordered for they also require plenty of guts to attack the food served and later on if the foraged food turns out to be too wild, our hunter has to draw on all his reserve strength to over come the internal struggle to digest the consumed food item. I am such a hunter.

I was born in Howrah, and learned to have  sensually developed food buds with proper training from my late paternal Uncle, who took us kids to far away nooks and corners of Kolkata for the best food. Good Food takes time and one should be patiently perseverant in their quest for the best food. As a 10 year old , with a broken heart I had to bid adeiu to Kolkata to arrive in Bhubaneswar for further studies, but the romance with Kolkata continues till date. It may be flooded with dirty water in the monsoon and populated by Aa-Bhadraloks at places, but when it comes to food, these people are the best. They are artists when it comes to anything with fish and food. A Fish fry is just a piece of freshly cut fish marinated in turmeric and salt and deep fried in Oil. But it attains heavenly taste when done by an experienced hand. The rich varieties in fish curry hinges on imagination, with the people of East Bengal descendants who call themselves to be from Bangaal, stealing a march over their counterparts elsewhere. The popular variety ranges from the Mustard or the plain masala variety to the finely chopped onions and  tomatoes toss fried with Pomfret.

The quality of fish, especially the Pabda or Hilsa of Padma River is most sought after. Another plain jane yet “forced down the throat or else” dish is the Sukto- basically a oil & spice-less mix of vegetable in boiled and cooked in dry format, though not quite the stew. But remains my all time favourite more by fragrance than by flavour is the ‘Iilish Macher Jhol’- a simple steamed piece of a popular kind of salt water fish put to boil in turmeric and salt added water with minimal spices. It is in kitchens in Kolkata, where every day, someone is trying to perfect a great dish.Another Popular household useful food item is ‘Muri” pronounced as ‘Mudi”, basically hot sand stirred puffed rice taken usually during the evenings with the popular Indian snacks-Mixture and mustard oil. It can be  flavoured with cut coconuts and pickle oil to make it Jhal Muri or vegetables and sauces to make it Bhel Puri.

Nostalgic memories of Kolkata flood me especially on Saraswati and Ganesh Pujas early morning, when bathed, combed and shining in neat pressed new clothes, we arrive at Schools to offer puspanjalis and then be fed a sumptuous breakfast by senior school girls in twin plaits and red bordered white sarees. We get Luchi( a deep refine oil fried small round piece of pressed rolled dough made from flour) and Alu Dum. Lunch was always the delicious Khichdi, Kobi Tarkari, Chatney of mashed tomatoes and dates, and Begun Bhajja. These simple things have a definitive different flavour, which make it so endearing  and is hardly found any non Bengali kitchens. Evenings during the Soptomi-Asthomi and Naubomi of Durga Pujas are a riot. Elder are sought after to seek their blessings which usually are handed out in hard cash to spend in the evenings. Street food to choose from will leave you flabbergasted with options ranging from the simple- Chatpati, Puchka, Manso Ghuguni, Rolls, Cutlets, Mughlai Paranthas, Chicken Lollypop, Prawn Chops and the usual north Indian Chaat, samosa, alu chop and many bastardized Indian Version of Chinese chow-min and Manchurian, etc. On such days, I get reminded of Hangover-the Movie, if it ever dealt with food instead of Drinks. But of all the popular street food, I miss Phuluri and Sutthi Kadaiir Kochuri the most. At times known as Radha bhollibi, I guess.These items are hardly been ever attempted to be replicated else where in non Bengali kitchens. There is also something my brother discovered and named-“Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghaam!!” a item guaranteed to remind you of Delhi Belly!! But the Nizaam’s and Amenia’s Biriyani and Punjabi and Iranian restaurants scattered over many places are to be self discovered and relished through out the year.

Lastly, one cannot commit blasphemy, by not mentioning desserts. The Kulfis are the most awesome and comparable to anywhere in India. Rosogollas are native here (and very good especially when hot) along with Kheer Kadam and Kheer Sagar. But if there is ever Nectar to be tasted on earth, then try the local Sweet Curd or Misti Doi. Also native here are the varieties of deep fried sweets like Langcha, PantuaGulab Jamun etc. The Sandesh can and should be Geographically IPR patented like the Basmati. They are unlike the rest of India mostly made from Gur- a sugar cane or date palm extract, which gives it a brown hue and a celestial taste. Often made from different toy shaped casts like apples, guava, ducks elephants,etc  for popular demand among the children,it remain to be seen and is the reason I call these people who are passionate about their food- as Artists!!

Nostalgic memories are miserably sweet and especially when it causes a small rumble gradually grow into a grumble in the nearest corner of my ever empty feeling stomach. So its time I don my Hunter cap and go out in search of food. So till my next piece, everyone go out to  love and enjoy Bengali Food!!

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Comments
  1. makes me nostalgic about home n food:(

  2. Saint Devil says:

    Good job as far as the SEO part goes for this blog and the subtle changes in the sittingondafence :)!!

  3. Sandy says:

    Nice appetizing start to this initiative of yours, hope to read more on such experiences!!

    Sandy

  4. Sandy says:

    Well it works fine folks can comment on this …so go ahead and kuch toh bolo yaaron..

  5. Sandeep Das says:

    Kya baat hai fb se bhi comment daal sakte baapu, teri toh nikal paadi..

  6. Hmm twitter too, atta boy khate jaao….naam badl ke hum hi aapne fans ban jaate hain baap kya bolta hai….

  7. shabana95 says:

    I so agree with u ami…there is nothing like Kolkata n its food…
    Kolkata makes my heart flutter everytime i visit. I am compltetely in love with this city 🙂

  8. Sandip Barik says:

    u frgt 2 mention: china town,tangra,The meat holes of Park circus,Watering holes in Micheal road,Momo’s of Exide street( A plate of 5 momos and a bowl of soup at just 14 bucks) and original chinese sausages n momo of Newmarket available only from 5.00 am – 7.30am, ‘churans’ n cut ‘aamra’ all spiced up,Chilla @ vardan market n all kinds of chaat wid a chilled cuppa of lassi to wash it dwn…nizam’s -chiken rools n hare street biriyani n chelo kebab’s of peter cat…nt 2 forget the street side vendors beside writer’s building/BBD bag selling kosha mangsho-luchi,Hangla’s- ilish machher-r sorshe jhaal, bhetki paturi, chingri machhermalaikari..n last bt nt da least momo n thupka of Hamro in rabindra sadan – the best in the lot famous fr its authentic tibetian fud.

  9. kaushik9002 says:

    Kya yaar aise likh karkyun soye hue baakasur ko jaaga raha hai…baakasur ki gaadi taiyar karne ki capacity nahi hai yaahan kisime

  10. kaushik9002 says:

    Kya yaar aise likh kar kyun soye hue baakasur ko jaaga raha hai…baakasur ki gaadi taiyar karne ki capacity nahi hai yaahan kisime

    • Saint Devil says:

      I hvnt spent required time in Kolkata. So I am handicapped in this matter. Rest, you can put all d blame on Sandip Barik. He has the real feel of the layout of all Bong food joints.

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