Its innumerable street food haunts are mainstays of student life in Kolkata. But for Iti Mishra, there are a few that have a special place in her mind and memory. When asked — and often before being asked — any born-and-bred Calcuttan can rattle off the names of a dozen lanes, bylanes, shops and shacks, each with a reputation for perfection at some tasty treat or the other.
Like any other long-term inhabitant, Iti Mishra is also an authority on the flavours found in the nooks and crannies of Kolkata. But the home chef’s expertise on the subject must be a slight cut above the rest, for she was roped in by Monkey Bar (a chain of resto bars in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata) to help plan their Durga Pujo menu, inspired by the City of Joy.
Says Iti, “There are scores of delicious spots in the city. But when I had to narrow it down to must-haves, I finally settled on 10. Anyone who visits Kolkata and wants to experience its street food, cannot afford to miss any of these.”
‘These’ include, among others, fish rolls at Beadon Street, shoitaner dim (which literally translates to devil’s eggs) at Girish Park, ghughni at Vivekananda Park, chicken rezalla at Chitpur Road, mughlai porota at Esplanade, pork momos at Elgin Road and chicken kabiraji at Lake Market. Looks too big for a ‘must-have’ list? It’s a foodie city!
Among the top on the list, of course, is College Street. “During our University days, we used to go across and have hing kochuris and alur torkari. This is so connected to my student life: we always had little money, and it was a filling dish in a small budget. It was also a nice sharing experience: we would just buy two or three and pass it around. Everybody would dig in.”
Vardaan Market is a newer entrant in the street food arena; Iti doesn’t remember it being around back when she was a child. Her pick from that particular haven is the moong daal pakodi chat, a nod to the area’s cosmopolitan population. “It’s new, but very popular. The market came up recently, and a lot of people used to eat by the streets while shopping. It’s popular for its North Indian and Marwari dishes.”
The new menu will be available at all Monkey Bar outlets during the festive season.