5 Creative Food Inventions From Bengal {And Where You Should Have Them}

Ipsita posted on 13 November

Ten-Second Takeaway

From Chinese Manchurian to kathi rolls, here are a few famous dishes that were created in Kolkata.

Chop-Cutlets

Kolkata loves its chops and cutlets with streetside kiosks, and even railway stations, serving a variety of these. These are delicious very Kolkata snacks are made with vegetables {think aloo’r chop and the ubiquitous vegetable chop served on Bengal’s trains made with beetroot!} minced meat or fish, coated with crushed biscuits or breadcrumbs and then fried. These are often served with a dash of the famous Bengal mustard — kasundi — and a salad of julienned cucumbers, carrots, onions and radish.

The influences for Kolkata’s chops and cutlets culture comes from European food — they were mostly introduced by the Portuguese and Brits.

The most popular Kolkata cutlet is the kabiraji cutlet made out of minced mutton, chicken, fish or prawn with a coating of breadcrumbs and a brushing of kasundi. What sets it apart, and gives it its name, is the thin, delicate lace-like layer of whipped fluffy eggs on top. It is served with thinly sliced onions, carrots and cucumber. The name is believed to be a derivation of ‘coverage cutlet’ — because of the added layer of egg batter that is dropped on top.

Best places to have chop-cutlet in Kolkata: Dilkhush Cabin at MG Road, Kalika at Surya Sen Street, Mitra Café in Shyambazaar.

Fast Food Restaurants

Building 88, MG Road, Near College Street Crossing, College Street, Kolkata

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Kathi Rolls

This skewer-roasted kebab wrapped in a parantha is said to have been invented by Nizam Restaurant. The story goes that one day a customer was in a hurry and asked for something light and dry which he could eat quickly. So pieces of chicken were removed from the curry, deboned, wrapped in a parantha and served. And so, the kebab roll was born. But soon after, the use of iron skewers to cook the chicken was disbanded and bamboo sticks were used for convenience. And hence, the name “kathi” roll stuck {kathi translates to ‘stick’} referring to the bamboo sticks in Bengali.

Best places to have kathi rolls in Kolkata: Nizam’s at New Market, Kusum Kathi Rolls at Park Street, Parijat at Shakespeare Sarani.

Casual Dining

23/24, Hogg Street, New Market Area, Taltala, Kolkata

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Bengali Chinese

The Chinese in Kolkata are a dwindling community and over the years they have impacted the socio-cultural environment of Bengal. Along with the Chinese came Chinese food, but over the course of time, that authentic cuisine has metamorphosed into a more Bengali-Indian Chinese.

To suit the taste buds of Bengalis, the bland Cantonese sauces were spiced up with chillis and hot sauces, creating unique dishes like Chicken Manchurian. Chicken Manchurian is widely recognised and reproduced with gobi and paneer, and is the creation of Nelson Wang, a man of Chinese descent, born in Kolkata and brought up in Mumbai and founder of the famous China Garden restaurant in Mumbai’s Kemps Corner.

Best places to have Bengali Chinese in Kolkata: Mainland China at Ballygunge Circular Road, Yauatcha at Syed Amir Ali Avenue, Tung Fong at Park Street, Marco Polo at Park Street.

Fine Dining

Uniworth House, 3-A, Gurusaday Road, Ballygunge, Kolkata

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Chicken Dak-Bungalow

This colonial recipe is said to have been prepared in Calcutta’s dak bungalows where the British officers used to stay while on hunting expeditions. The British didn’t like the thick spicy Indian curries and wanted the khansamas {cooks} to prepare their chicken in a light broth with very little spices. And this chicken curry lived on to be called the Chicken Dak-Bungalow.

Best restaurants to have Chicken Dak-Bungalow in Kolkata: Bhojohori Manna {multiple locations}, Oh! Calcutta at Elgin Road, 6 Ballygunge Place at Ballygunge.

Casual Dining

1/72/A, 5th Floor, Diamond Plaza, 68, Jessore Road, Nager Bazar, South Dum Dum, Kolkata

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Sandesh

Apparently Bengal’s most popular sweet was invented accidentally in Bengal, when a milkman was left with plenty of unsold milk. Soon the milk turned sour and formed ‘chhana’. To make it edible, sugar was added to it and a paste was formed, called ‘makha’. This was the sandesh in its earliest stages. Later sweetmeat makers mastered the art of the sandesh by mixing the correct proportions of flour and sugar. Gur {jaggery} was also often added for extra flavour.

Best shops to have sandesh in Kolkata: Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick, Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy, Nalin Chandra Das and Sons.

Sweet Shops

367, Prince Anwar Shah Road, Kolkata

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