A trip to Kolkata remains incomplete without exploring the food culture of the city. The city hosts people from different regions and communities, who over the years, have contributed enough to shape the cuisine of Bengal (and the city). You will find authentic Bengali food, Indo-Chinese delicacies, Anglo-Indian recipes, Mughlai recipes and much more. In fact, it won't be an exaggeration to say that Kolkata is indeed a foodie's ultimate destination. From street-side phuchka, ghugni and jhalmuri to rolls, biryani, chop, kosha mangsho and more - the list goes long, leaving us spoilt for choices. And what fascinates us the most are the iconic eateries in Kolkata. Besides a range of food, the city also hosts some popular eateries that have a rich history of their own. One such instance is a Pice Hotel. Wonder what a Pice Hotel is? Let's find out.
What Is A Pice Hotel: History Of Pice Hotel:
Derived from the word 'paisa' - the lowest denomination in Indian currency - it is a set of eateries that offer authentic home-style Bengali meals at a pocket-friendly price. For the unversed, 'pice' is equivalent to one-fourth of an 'anna'. And believe us or not, even a hundred years ago, these eateries offered meals for just a pice.
Believed to be originated during the British period in the 1900s, these eateries are unpretentious in their decor, but promise a hearty meal, served on banana leaves at community tables. From the very basic aloo sedho-bhaat (mashed potato and rice) and dal-bhaat (dal-chawal) to mutton kosha and fish curries, you will find a range of yummy recipes on the menu (at a pice hotel), every single day.
Today, you will find quite a few pice hotels scattered across the city, serving nourishing meals to people from different sects of lives, who flock to the city for work. In fact, the concept of pice hotel originated with an intent to serve home-style food to workers, students and babus who came to Kolkata and stayed in hostels/mess for work (and studies). This is why the menus at these hotels remain strictly traditional and comforting.
According to food historians, some of these pice hotels also played a huge role in India's freedom movement. They offered food for free (and less price) to the revolutionaries and also hosted them for their secret meetings.
We can easily state - pice hotels are the heritage of Kolkata; unfortunately, over the years, many of the pice hotels have shut down due to rising costs and changing lifestyle choices. However, some of the eateries are still soldiering on, keeping true to their ethos. In this particular article, we will take you through some of Kolkata's iconic pice hotels that are still serving the most authentic Bengali meals at pocket-friendly prices. Take a look.
5 Iconic Pice Hotels In Kolkata:
Established in 1915 by Eshan Chandra Deb, Taru Niketan hotel is situated inside a narrow lane at Lake Market in South Kolkata. This place is known for its varied fish and hansher dim (duck egg) dishes. You will get a wide range of vegetarian recipes too. And the best part is, most of the food here is prepared without onion and garlic.
Address: Rash Behari Avenue, near Kalighat metro rail station
Swadhin Bharat Hindu Hotel:
Located on College Street, near the Presidency College, this place was founded by Man Gobindo Ponda in 1927. Besides the quintessential dal, fish and meat, this place offers more than 25 types of vegetarian dishes, impressing the veg patrons to the core.
Address: 8/2, Bhawani Dutta Ln, below Raja Guest House, Calcutta University, College Square
Jagannath Ashram Hotel:
Another iconic hotel on College Street, Jagannath Ashram Hotel was established in 1952 by Gobordhan Palui. Over the years, the place has seen quite a few changes in terms of décor, but what remains untouched is the menu. From bhetki to ilish and more - this place offers lip-smacking dishes that tug at heartstrings every single time.
Address: 114, College St, College Street Market
Hotel Sidheshwari Ashram:
Situated in a narrow lane near the iconic Sir Stuart Hogg Market (popularly known as New Market), Hotel Sidheshwari Ashram was established in 1928. The eatery was founded by Khudiram Sarkar and offers a famous fish curry that still remains the bestseller on the menu. It's called kobiraji jhol - a super healthy fish curry made with raw banana, potato, papaya and very less oil. Unlike most other pice hotels, this place is slightly decked up with a better interior, air conditioners and wooden furniture.
Address: 19, Rani Rashmoni Rd, Esplanade
One of the most affordable eateries in Kolkata, Parbati Hotel was established in 1960. While the name of the founder remains unknown, it is now run by Souvik Daso and offers more than 10 types of fish recipes on the menu.
Address: 66, Ashutosh Mukherjee Rd, Bhowanipore
About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.