Get a taste of authentic Marwari and Sindhi cuisines at a food trail in Kolkata's Burrabazar 

A food trail into the heart of Kolkata's landmark mercantile hub, Burrabazar, promises flavours of yore and an abundance of stories from a long time ago

Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  11th January 2019 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  11th January 2019 12:00 AM
Best Street Food Places in Kolkata

Badri ki kachori at Burrabazar

The mention of Burrabazar conjures up vision of narrow streets lined with old unkempt buildings, never ending jostling crowds, porters carrying goods on their heads and cubby hole shaped offices of wholesalers of everything from textile to pharmaceuticals. But not even the most imaginative would think that this trading hub of Kolkata -- that evolved through the eighteenth to nineteenth century -- can represent a delightful map of culinary treats. However, that is exactly what Breakfree Trails is claiming we will find, when we trek though these serpentine roads.
Sweets at Ambika Bhujiawala in Burrabazar area

“Just like the mercantile history of this area, which is probably the oldest wholesale market of the city, the food in and around here has also evolved and changed in the course of time, acquiring a unique characteristic of its own,” says Amitabha Gupta, one of the city’s renowned food and travel writers, who will conduct the food walk with a motley crowd of ten gastronomes this Sunday. 

 “The most interesting part is the discovery of the evolution of a community through signature street foods in this area, where Sindhis and Marwaris settled in late nineteenth centuries after a section of them migrated to Kolkata,” explains Amitabha.

The walk aims at taking the food lovers through a culinary journey covering one-and-a-half kilometre, that eill be sprinkled with history trivia.

Gathias at Ambika Bhujiawala

The walk will start around 11 in the morning, from Satyanarayan Park, a landmark in Burrabazar area with a tea in a khullar (clay pot) from the famous Bapu tea. “The Marwaris don’t like their tea light. They love it with loads of milk, infused with spices like cardamom, cinnamon and saffron. The one that Bapu Tea offers is near authentic,” adds Amitabha.

Badri ki Kachori at Burrabazar

Most of the food stalls and eateries dotting Burrabazar are very old with no exact record of their establishment. Bapu tea is one such renowned tea stall selling tea and other popular Marwari and Gujarati snacks. This will be followed by some Sindhi delicacies including aloo tikki (shallow fried spiced mashed potato) and mirchi pakoda (big chilli stuffed with choicest of spices) at Tiwari, another famous snacking shop in the area. The walkers will also be given a taste of the various authentic Marwari and Gujarati kachoris including piyaz kachori and small club kachodis and Gujarati burgers called Daboli at Ambika Bhujiawala.

Pedhas at Kaligodam area in Burrabazar

There will be a sumptuous lunch at one of the typical Gujarati Basas (pice hotels), crowding the area, where authentic Gujarati thalis including veg dishes and papads will be served. The guests will also get to sample the famous Sindhi breakfast, Daal Pakwan and thandais. Daal Pakwan is a typical Sindhi breakfast consisting of deep friend flour fritters, which are crispy and like biscuits in texture, served with freshly cooked pulses and a chutney with a hint of tamarind. Kandoi Sweets in Burrabazar serves one of the best Pakwans..  

Sweets in Kaligodam

Those with a sweet tooth will be impressed by the Malai Roll and Rabri served at the old shop called Jadab Milk supply. The Malai roll and the rabri do not have any artificial sweetener or sugar in it, mentions Amitabha, adding that the five kilos of rabri is made by boiling the milk for nearly two hours. The Malai roll made with dry cream of milk wrapped in kheer tastes heavenly. The ghevars or disc shaped sweet cakes made with flour n sugar syrup, which are associated with peach fruit festival in Rajasthan will also be a part of the itinerary. There will also be kulfis from the famous Gopal Babu’s shop on MG Road for those with a love for ice cream.

The food trail will take place on January 13, 11 a.m. The price for each person is Rs 850


Box :
Historical hub:
The present day Burrabazar which constitutes Posta in the north, Canning street in the south, Strand road in the west and Chitpur in the east, developed when the trading class of Kolkata including the Setts and Basaks of Gobindapur were given land in Sutanuti by the British. During that time a bi-weekly haat (market) used to be organised there and slowly it turned into a prominent residential wholesale market.
There are still many alleys named after the famed first settling mercantile class of the society including sovaram Basak Street, Nalini Sett Road that’s steeped in history. According to folklore, Raja Nabakrishna Deb bought the Sovabazar Rajbari from Sovaram Basak.
Since those times this locality has seen people from different trading communities including the Marwaris, Jains, Sindhis and Gujaratis settling here and making this address their home and source of livelihood. Since the 1850s the Marwaris have settled and dominated this area. A hundred years later the Sindhis came here after Partition. The 1970s and Bangladesh war saw many Urdu-speaking Muslims settling in the adjoining areas of Kolutola and Canning Street. “This confluence of cultures and different communities gave rise to an eclectic range of food unique to the are,” explains Gupta.