Kolkata has a soul of her own and a very curious character. A melting pot for hundreds of years, the city holds in its heart a mind-boggling array of cultures. The city thrives on cha, adda, sports, politics and intellectualism. Its multi-coloured persona is anchored in the colonial yore while a modern urbanity flows deep within itself. You have to fall in love with the city of joy. She is that beautiful. As Poila Boishakh and Bengali New Year is being celebrated today, let's bask in the full glory of this city's foodie hotspots.
Growing up, a typical Kolkata kid's hangout zone has to be College Street. At least, that is the norm. Often referred to as the second-largest secondhand book market in the world, this is where the initiation of a Bengali child takes place, in Tagore and in world literature.
The iconic Indian Coffee House of College Street was once the hot seat where teacups saw many a storm being brewed among argumentative Bengalis. Politics, sports, music, literature, different tables speak varied tales here. As varied as Kolkata's inclusive heart, like its colourful festivals.
Kolkata celebrates Durga puja with so much pomp that the entire city becomes the body of a carnival procession, the biggest carnival arguably anywhere. However, the city jumps in to have a flavourful plate of Kolkata biryani during Eid (and, of course, all around the year). The city got its biryani and its aloo directly from the handis of the khansamahs of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Lucknow.
Speaking of biryani, let's remember the first place Kolkatans started having it regularly. Inside a busy street of Esplanade, just beside the famous Paris-like arcade of the Oberoi Grand, the first Aminia outlet still stands tall. For shoppers and for food pilgrims, the aroma of history this place has in its walls and, of course, that of its biryani and chaap can't just be ignored.
Speaking of festivals, Christmas comes alive in this city in a very colonial and suave street, where any day is a party day, all nights are festive nights. Heritage spots like Mocambo and Trincas, among India's first nightspots, adorn the street. But the high-spirited urbane youth of Kolkata can't be kept away, either. The iconic Hard Rock Cafe has debuted in Kolkata to endorse the forever-teen spirit of the city, inside Park Mansion. Music and drink hold this place in one long joyous night that never ends.
Not far from this very happening place is Ho Chi Minh Sarani, where Unplugged Courtyard, a new resto-bar has opened like a fresh whiff of air. The restaurant, with its vivid ambience and mouth-watering food and drinks, will surely cheer your mood up, no matter what state you are in. With an open bar, rooftop set up and live music session, Unplugged will make you get floored by the skyline of this beautiful city.
In Kolkata, food is like a religion. An entire population hogs into rolls, chowmein, chop and singara and yet never gets tired of the mandatory luchi and kosha mangsho. But what is legendary about the populace is its sweet tooth. No occasion is complete without some "misti mukh". Your marriage is fixed? Let's have roshogolla. You're becoming a parent? Where is the mishti doi?
Bhim Chandra Nag, Chittaranjan, Nalin Chandra Das & Sons, the city's iconic sweet shop's list is never-ending. The city took chhena from the Dutch and Portuguese and made something extraordinary. Yes, the roshogolla.
Food is but only one marker of the city's bubbling heart, that is inclusive and ever-evolving. It includes history and modernity, Tagore and Ghalib, Hindustani classical and Ghazal, sufiana and Santana, Satyajit and Chaplin, steak and shukto, daab sharbat and pina colada with equal respect. Religion, food, time, politics, sports, films move, mix and become an ever-moving city of love and joy. You can't help but fall in love with the beauty that is Kolkata. Because, wherever you go, 'Kolikata ache Kolikatatei'.
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About Author: Atreya Paul has always oriented himself as a brand strategist in the realm of marketing and public relations, known for his remarkable accomplishments. An avid reader, traveller, coffee lover and food enthusiast.