If you think that all C.R. Park has to offer are sandesh and fish dishes, you are very mistaken. We bring you the hitherto unexplored eateries from the gallis of Chittaranjan Park (named after the patriot or deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das) to bust this myth and to guide you to the best places for delicious Bengali specialities. Most eateries in Market 1 are located in a single file; you can stop and sample as you walk down the lane and breathe in tantalising whiffs of mustard and fish.
Here’s how a perfect itinerary would look like, for an evening of merriment:
1. Raju Puchka Wala
Find it here: Near Canara Bank, Market 1
Bengali cuisine has got to start with the classic Puchkas. For the last 20 years, Raju has been delighting customers with fried wheat puchkas filled with a spicy mixture of jeera, coriander, black pepper, green chillies, potatoes and black chana (most golgappas in Delhi are filled with saunth and made of suji rather than wheat).
He also sells a Bengali variant of the ubiquitous aloo chaat – aloo kabli is made of boiled potatoes, tamarind water, chickpeas, green chillies, onions, masala, and salt. Chaat lovers should also try the churmur, which is rather like a hybrid of puchkas and aloo kabli. It’s a tangy, crunchy and sweet concoction featuring chickpeas, tamarind water, boiled potatoes, crushed puchkas, green chillies, cilantro and black chana.
2. Ghughnee Wala
Find it here: Opposite Kolkata Biryani House, Market 1
At Shyamal Barua’s stall, the signboard advertises both momos and ghughnee, but it’s the latter that you’re really here for. An extremely popular snack in Bengal and in parts of Bihar and Orissa, ghughnee is a curry made of chickpeas (motor in Bengali) that are soaked in water overnight. There’s a veg version as well as one with minced mutton.
3. Kolkata Hot Kathi Roll
Find it here: Shop No 8, Market 1
We can forgive the owners for misspelling “kati rolls” as “kathi rolls”, a mistake made by most people outside of Kolkata where the cuisine originated at Nizam Restaurant; the word kati means skewers in Bengali and was applied to kebabs and then to kebabs wrapped in paranthas.
You’ll find a wide range of mutton, chicken and paneer rolls here, but it also serves up prawn cutlets, veg chops, Mughlai paranthas, barbecued meats, shawarma and even a small selection of Chinese dishes among a host of other preparations. Don’t get too distracted though – the rolls are what stand out, livened up by different sauces, including the mustard-and-raw-mango kashundi, a secret masala and chopped onions. We call this perfection.
4. Roll ‘N’ Roast
Find it here: Shop No 7, Market 1
This place is right next to Kolkata Hot Kathi Roll and provides head to head competition to its neighbour, serving many of the same dishes. Their menu claims “Delicious Start Right Here” and they aren’t far off the mark.
They are famous for their Chinese specialties (let’s not forget that Kolkata is considered to be the birthplace of Indian-Chinese cuisine) as well as their chops and kobiraji cutlets. We highly recommend the Chinese chat which comes with a variety of toppings and a choice of either noodles or rice.
For just Rs. 200, a non-veg platter will allow you to sample Schezwan chicken (our fave), lemon chicken, chilly chicken, garlic chicken, chicken wings, chicken Manchurian and sweet ‘n’ sour chicken. The veg platter, on the other hand, costs Rs. 120 and includes veg Manchurian, chilli paneer, crispy chilli potato, crispy honey potato, and mix veg salt ‘n’ pepper.
5. Mad About Momos
Find it here: Near Evergreen Properties, Market 1
You’ll be spoiled for choice with the myriad types of momos served here – chicken, veg, paneer, soya, steamed, fried or tandoori. It uses a traditional bamboo basket for steaming the momos and the dumplings are made of whole-wheat rather than white flour.
Besides, have you ever seen momos shaped like fish or samosa? The fresh, hot momos are served with mayonnaise and a drool-worthy sauce made from butter, sugar, red chillies, tomatoes and onions. There are three other branches of Mad About Momos in Amar Colony, Central Market and Pocket 8 Vasant Kunj.
6. A N R Chakraburti’s Pakora Stall
Find it here: Near Kendra Bhandar, Market 1
The shop traces its origin to 1971, the time when Chittaranjan Park was just a piece of land allotted to displaced people from East Pakistan. For lunch, they serve rice served with either egg (Rs. 40) or fish (Rs. 60).
Their aloo chop (pronounced alloor chop in Bangla), bread pakoras, beguni, chop pakora, mirchi pakora and onion pakora make for perfect evening telebhajas (fried snacks), best enjoyed with a cup of hot tea.
7. Kamala Sweet Shop
Find it here: K-1/101, Market 1
Prabir Kumar Mukherji, the proud owner of Kamla Sweets, has been successfully operating for past 30 years. Here you can sample the quintessential misti doi (sweetened curd), available in traditional mud pots of different sizes (100 gm to 1 kg), as well as Bengal’s most famous dessert, sandesh (the “a” is pronounced as “o”) in different shapes, sizes and colours.
Their conch- and fish-shaped sandesh are masterpieces and the steamed version (bhapa sandesh) guarantees love at first bite to the sweet-toothed. Other specialities on the menu include chum chum, dudh pulisita bhog, chandrapuli, rosogolla, bundi laddoo and lobongo lotika.
You can also try chhena poda (Rs. 500 for a kg), a caramelised cheese sweet that actually originated in Orissa. If you visit around breakfast you can also try savouries like khasta kachori, matar kachori and radhaballabhi (urad daal stuffed in a puri); they also make beetroot chops, a rare delicacy in this part of the country.
8. Vivek Tea Stall
Find it here: Behind Mother Dairy, Market 1
Don’t be deceived by the name. This game-changer of a stall not only serves tea or “cha” but also cold coffee with ice-cream and dry fruits, hot coffee (pick from Nescafe, Bru and Davidoff), hot chocolate Bournvita and a variety of teas – lemon, tulsi (green), Arabian, jasmine, among others.
The best part about this ‘cha’ stall is that you can have your tea customised to your taste. His lemon cha was the highlight for us – it contains a flavourful medley of amla, black salt, black pepper, jeera syrup and Hajmola that will cause an explosion of flavours in your mouth.
We know you’re drooling by now, you can thank us later.