Kolkata… An Enigma

Quintessential Kolkata
Every city has some unique things to offer. This is true for Kolkata (Calcutta), as well. Things that are so special and distinctive, that you won’t get them in any other place.

80 unique things one can experience in Kolkata, and in no other city of the world!


    Food for thought
  • Phulkopir Shingara: samosas don’t stand a chance against these.
  • Phuchka: pani puri and gol-gappas aren’t a patch on phuchkas.
  • Karaishutir Kochuri: a seasonal favourite, have it with alurdam.
  • Luchi: puri and phulkas - no comparison.
  • Alurdom: the world’s best. Try the offering at Vivekananda Park.
  • Jhalmuri: a unique concoction, with nothing to equal it.
  • Telebhaaja: these and jhalmuri are like ‘made for each other’.
  • Chanachur: many have tried unsuccesfully to steal the formula, MNCs included!
  • Alukabli: where will you get something like this?
  • Ghugni: again, chana is not the same at all.
  • Radhaballavi: try it with alurdom or cholar daal.
  • Chanmp: even Pakistani cricketers have sampled these, in Chitpur.
  • Rezala: out of this world, just out of this world!
  • Paradiser Sharbat: there is one which is green, and another, pink. No college student from Presidency or the Calcutta University has failed to sample these!
  • Lere Biscut: needed to make the batter for chop-katlet.
  • Chicken Kabiraji: an unbelievable variation on the chicken cutlet.
  • Moton Afghani: an equally innovative presentation of the mutton cutlet.
  • Dimer Kalia: again, where do you get something like this?
  • Kasha Mangsho: it’s become an institution now.
  • Roll: the ubiquitous mutton, chicken or egg roll. Unquestionably superior to any variants in any other city of the world. Check out Bedwin at Gariahat.
  • Chingri Machher Malaikari: an absolute mouth watering dish.
  • Ilish Machh: umm… that undisputable lingering taste of the coveted fish.
  • Aloo Posto: difficult to find any other vegetarian dish that tastes this good.
  • Moghlai Parota: nobody can better the ones at Anadi Cabin.
  • Mochar Chop: exquisite pakodas at the local roadside shop made with a stuffing of banana blossom/spadex.
  • Illish Machh Bhaja diye Khichuri: an absolute must on those rainy days when it seems as if the downpour is never going to stop.

    And also…

  • Coffee House-er Coffee: try the float with ice cream.
  • Bharer Chaa: on the Maidan, from shining brass vessels on a rainy day.

    And not to be missed in all this,

  • Paan: unmatched, even in Benaras or Lucknow.


    The sweeter side


  • Roshomalai: a creamy, mouth-watering delight!
  • Jilipi: smaller than the jalebis and tastes quite different.
  • Lal Doi: is an experience by itself!
  • Kamalabhog: a pale yellow orb, delicately sweetened.
  • Nalen Gurer Sondesh: it should be eaten to believe.
  • Rosogolla: simply needs no introduction.
  • Natun Gurer Rosogolla: the latest innovation. There are many, many more traditional favourites.
  • Shitabhog: pure white, sweetened to just the right extent.
  • Mihidana: golden yellow, saffron scented.
  • Maalpoa: rich brown pancakes, dripping in sugar syrup.
  • Ranga Alur Pithey: another traditional favourite in winter.
  • Jolbhora: sondesh with sugar syrup in the interior.


    Up fashion street

    Fashions keep changing.
    But the dhuti-panjabi and tangail look never becomes out-dated.

  • Dhakka Par Dhuti: the finest and most elegant available here.
  • Lal Kalo Dhuti: the latest sensation in Kolkata.
  • Giley Kara Panjabi: those with the improbably crinkled sleeves.
  • Tangail Saree: the best in these all-time favourites can be found here.
  • Baluchari Saree: plain fabrics with brocaded, untwisted silk threads, and subtle linear patterns.
  • Jamdani Saree: blend of cotton and silk, with intricate floral and geometric designs.
  • Balaposh: the lost art of that unstiched layer of cottonwool between two layers of silk.

    And the other marks of distinction are…

  • Bidyasagari Choti: you still get them here.
  • Kabuli Chappal: another old favourite.
  • Garader Saree: ideal with pujo bari, shankher awaaj.


    Sights and sounds

    One wakes up in the morning and hears their voices drifting through the air.
    So typically do they say their bit… that it is difficult to forget… and even more so… to imitate…

  • Shil Katowala: they chip the stone slabs which grind masalas.
  • Churi Kanchi Shaanwala: sharpens knives, scissors and anything with an edge.
  • Lep Shelaiwala: they make those cotton quilts which warm you up in winter.

    And early in the morning, before Durga Pujo, who can forget the strains of

  • Mahalayar Mahisasuramardini: this radio broadcast is exquisite.


    Quaint and very special indeed


  • Chinese Khabar in China Town: an early morning breakfast here is an experience.
  • Maidan: the ideal place to be on a sleepy, winter morning.
  • College Street-er Boipara: bookworms buzz around this place morning, noon and night.
  • All Night Music Conference: you won’t find a minute to yawn.
  • Ganga-te Nouko Bihar: either in a country boat or a steamer or on hover craft!
  • Gangar Dolphins: if it’s your lucky day, you might catch a glimpse of a frolicking shoal.
  • Sokal-er tram to the Maidan: see how green and fresh the city looks.
  • East Kolkata Wetlands: our very own eco-system regulator – just on the outskirts.


    Travel in style


  • Hand-pulled Rickshaw: still the preferred form of transportation for some, especially children and the elderly.
  • ‘School Van’: it’s to be seen to be believed.
  • Tram: if you have time on hand, you can see the city glide by.
  • Metro Rail: spick and span, and the trains are dot on time.
  • Circular Rail: see the river all along as you travel on the train.
  • Mini Bus: sometimes it is too risky.


    Kolkata’s passion


  • Rocker Adda: Calcuttans are an adda baaj lot.
  • Mohan Bagan & East Bengal: prices of ilish or chingri go up, depending on who wins the day.
  • Jatra: who says it is all melodrama?
  • Durga Pujo: the pomp and pageantry, reserved each year for the ‘mother of all festivals’.
  • Pujo Barshiki: people just love this publishing wonders during the Durga Pujo.
  • Boi Mela: when the fair is on, you are there – whether you love books or not.
  • Cricket match at the Eden: cricketers and cricket lovers the world over treasure the experience.


    City’s own


  • Coffee House: the place for adda on anything and everything under the sun.
  • Hydrant: there’s a move by the CMC to revive the practice of washing the streets with Ganga water from the hydrants
  • ‘Italian’ Saloon: road side barber joints, where you sit on a piece of brick (iNt).
  • Chinese Dry Cleaners: do a very clean job, indeed.
  • Darjees of Metiabruz: are a cut above the rest. Even if they cut corners at times!