10 Things To Pick Up For Your Pantry From Kolkata's Chinatown

Anuradha posted on 18 July

Ten-Second Takeaway

The streets of Tiretti Bazaar are heaven-sent for gourmands who want to stock up on kitchen provisions. Dried black fungus and shiitake mushrooms, spices, sauces, rice sticks and oil sticks for soups, sausages, teas and balms, and prawn wafers – the old stores manned by the Chinese community stock stuff you won’t get anywhere else.

Funky Mushrooms

Sing Cheung Sauce Factory stocks a variety of mushrooms in their glass cases. Pick up some black fungus or wood ear mushrooms – they are especially beneficial for blood and counteract high cholesterol. You will have to soak them in water for a while, they expand quite a bit and become jelly-like when cooked. But believe this, they are delicious. Another variety at the shop are the dried oyster mushrooms and shiitake- great for clear soups and salads or stir fries.

 

 

Food Stores

P-12, New C.I.T Road, Terita Bazar, Poddar Court, Tiretti, Kolkata

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Bamboo Steamers For Momos

Pick up a steamer and you will be on the road to healthy food. Chinatown shops stock bamboo and ceramic varieties. We loved the bamboo ones. You can make momos and dumplings in these. Or even steam your own creations – like some marinated fish in banana leaves.

Fragrant Jasmine Tea

If you like mild and fragrant golden liquor teas, pick up a box of jasmine tea. We love the orange and gold tins of the Sunflower brand – it comes from China and is a classic. You need very little to make a cup. And you don’t have to strain the small, delicate tea leaves. You could use the tea as a smoking/flavour agent as well. The Chinese use it to add flavour to specialty dishes like tea-leaf eggs. And do you remember the many times contestants and chefs on Masterchef Australia smoked poultry and meat with tea?

Super Sauces

Several stores in the area manufacture and sell their own line of legendary sauces that contribute to the taste of Kolkata’s trademark Hakka-style Chinese. At Pou Chong, pick up a bottle of the fiery green chilli sauce, or their Capsiko made with slim red peppers; or the pudina sauce (made with mint leaves and vinegar). We loved the barbeque sauce {made with fermented soybean, honey and molasses}. Across the road, at Sing Cheung Company, stock up on Sichuan, hoisin and hot bean sauces. They say their soybean sauce has been fermented for almost a year.

Food Stores

2, Peter Lane, Near Telephone Exchange, Tiretti Bazar, Tiretti, Kolkata

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Packs of Noodles And Chow

Hakka chow, Singapore chow, rice noodles, glass noodles, flat rice sticks  – pick up a basketful of these. They all have different textures and taste. Mix and match with vegetables and/or meats, add some sauce for zing, and some of those mushrooms you picked up. How you stir things up is up to you. Apart from Pou Chong and Sing Cheung, you can find a variety of noodles at Hap Hing Co, one of the oldest stores in the area {it opened in 1934}. The owner Stella Chen also sells homemade sauces, tea, and herbal medicines.

Medical Facilities

19, 10, Sun Yat Sen Street, B.B. Ganguly Street, Terita Bazar, Poddar Court, Tiretti, Kolkata

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    Dried Plum Candy

    They are wrinkly and purple. And look like something from a Harry Potter book. Dried plums  – or huamei – are sweet, sour and have a slight tang that you will love. They have this dust of sugar crystals sprinkled over the surface. It seems dry and hard at first, but soon dissolves in your mouth, leaving it feeling fresh. In no time at all, you will want to pop another one.

    Sichuan Peppercorns

    These tiny but potent bullets can add a punch of flavor to any soup or stew. It’s great for clearing up the sniffles. If you bite into them though, your lips may become numb, momentarily.

    Mugs For Tea And Herbal Infusions

    These classic brewing mugs have a lid and a small decanter that you fill with leaves, and leave to brew. Very convenient, easy to use and clean. We love the interesting patterns and motifs on the cups.

    Rice Wine Vinegar

    You will love this mellow – yet sharp – Chinese cooking wine vinegar used to make many signature dishes like drunken chicken.

    Prawn Wafers

    You will get addicted to these deep-fried, crunchy, but melt-in -your-mouth snacks. Fun fact – they are not all prawns or shrimps, the base is made of taro or tapioca. Serve these as party snacks, or have bowlful when you binge on Game Of Thrones.

     

    #LBBTip

    Ask the very friendly Janice Lee of Pou Chong to help you choose what to buy and how to use the ingredients.