Spirit of India

How to eat your way through Kolkata

Divya Dugar, for CNNUpdated 12th June 2015
Editor's Note — CNN's series often carry sponsorship originating from the countries and regions we profile. However, CNN retains full editorial control over all of its reports. Our sponsorship policy.
Kolkata, India (CNN) — When it comes to food, Kolkata's locals don't mess around.
The dining scene in this West Bengal city -- formerly known as Calcutta -- is heavy on nostalgia.
Traditional Bengali family recipes passed down through generations continue to thrill taste buds.
Then there's the international influence that comes courtesy of Chinese migrants and the British raj.
Want to try a wide variety of Kolkata's diverse flavors but aren't sure where to start?
Here are some restaurants, dishes and neighborhoods worth checking out.

Kolkata's best street eats

Puchka: The quintessential Kolkata street food.
Puchka: The quintessential Kolkata street food.
Divya Dugar/CNN
Kolkata is one of India's street food capitals.
No trip to the city is complete without sampling a few local favorites.
Among them are puchkas -- crisp, fried dough balls, stuffed with a mix of mashed potato and boiled chickpeas and seasoned with coriander and a generous sprinkling of spices.
This beautiful concoction is then dunked into a dipping sauce of sour tamarind and green mango.
Found all over, they're best eaten off the street in Central Kolkata or on Russell Street.
Another worthy pit stop is Chandu Bhelwala for a taste of their batata puri (105 Southern Ave., Kolkata; +91 98 3648 5381).
These crunchy fried discs are generously sprinkled with potato, onion and peanuts then topped with a mix of tamarind and spicy coriander and chili sauce.
For lunch on the go nothing beats a kathi roll from Nizam's (23/24 Hogg St., New Market area, Kolkata; +91 98 3619 4669).
The parantha, or Indian flat bread, is stuffed with the filling of your choice, such as chicken, egg or paneer cheese.

6 Ballygunge Place

For an authentic Bengali meal -- big on fish, vegetables and lentils -- we recommend 6 Ballygunge Place, housed in an old colonial mansion.
Sushanta Sengupta, chef and director, has put together a menu of recipes from the household of legendary Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.
A Bengali meal traditionally starts with something bitter like shukto (stew with bitter gourds and vegetables) and rice.
Other menu stars include the crunchy posto narkel bora (roasted fritters made with coconut and poppy seeds), bhekti paturi (fish wrapped and cooked in ripe banana leaves) or the massive thala (platter) which offers ample sample options.
6 Ballygunge Place, Ballygunge, Kolkata; +91 33 2460 3922

Kolkata's Chinatown

Back in the 18th century, Kolkata experienced a huge influx of Chinese immigrants.
Their culinary influence remains, making the city a great place to enjoy fantastic Chinese cuisine -- but with a distinctly Indian flavor.
Early risers can start their mornings at Chinatown's Tiretta Bazaar, where they can order hearty breakfasts of steamed buns, piping hot soup and meaty dim sum.
It's a thrill to sit back and take in the chaos as people interact with the local vegetable vendors who share the space with the last of the city's Chinese population.
Kolkata's Tiretta Bazaar, Chinatown, is located near Poddar Court and is open daily from 6-8.30 a.m.

The Corner Courtyard

The Corner Courtyard: Good food, quirky interiors.
The Corner Courtyard: Good food, quirky interiors.
The Corner Courtyard
A nice option for those looking for some international flavor, The Corner Courtyard sits in a 110-year-old bungalow with quirky interiors.
Recommended dishes on its creative menu include the sea salt roasted fig, apple and crunchy leave salad -- perfect for the Kolkata summer -- or the beetroot hummus and mushroom cupcakes with ricotta cheese.
The rich Chocolate hazelnut mousse is a fine way to wrap it all up.
The Corner Courtyard, 92B Sarat Bose Rd., Kolkata-26; +91 33 4061 0145

Dessert and coffee

Bengali cuisine is famed for its sweets, most of which are milk based and made with chhana (curd cheese).
A great immersion into the local dessert scene is rasgulla, a dish that features balls of chhana soaked in sugary syrup and mishti doi (sweet yoghurt) served in earthen pots.
K.C Das (11A Esplanade East, Kolkata, +91 33 2248 5920) and Ganguram Grand Sons (84/A Shambhunath Pandit St.; +91 33 2455 2357) are two local rasgulla favorites.
Meanwhile, historic Indian Coffee House (15 Bankim Chatterjee St., Kolkata; +91 33 2237 5649) has been used as an adda (session of discussion) meeting point for Bengali intellectuals for generations.
Today it remains a good place to grab a cold coffee and engage in some spirited debate.
Another classic in the neighborhood frequented by local students and writers is Paramount Sherbet (1/1/1D,Bankim Chatterjee St., Kolkata; +91 33 2219 2435), which serves homemade sherbets made with with milk and yoghurt -- mango mania and coco malai are faves.
Then there's the Paris Cafe (1/1 Ashutosh Chowdhury Rd., Kolkata; +91 33 3099 0520), the go-to place for hot chocolate, moist red velvet cupcakes and an excellent Chantilly and fresh mango crepe. They also serve salads, panini and have a great selection of breads.


Flurys serves an excellent all-day breakfast.
Flurys serves an excellent all-day breakfast.
Divya Dugar/CNN
For those who need their Western breakfast there's Flurys, a tearoom and Swiss confectionery that's been around since 1926.
Regardless of the time of day, visitors can order the classic English breakfast of sausages, eggs and bacon or try a cheese and tomato filled croissant with a cup of Darjeeling second flush.
They also serve dessert -- the rum balls and almond cubes are particularly good.
Flurys, 18 Park St, Kolkata;+91 33 4000 7453)
Love taking photos of food? Share snaps of your own Culinary Journeys on Instagram with the hashtag #CNNFood. For inspiration, check out this selection of food pics shared by CNN staff and readers.