Certain cities are known for being street food capitals. One of the biggest highlights of Kolkata was the fact that you’ll find its sidewalks are a bazaar of street food. There’s many top Kolkata street foods to try. Walking down a sidewalk is like walking down a buffet line. For a few rupees you can get a mouthwatering meal. Here’s 10 must try street food in Kolkata.
Table of Contents: 10 Mouthwatering Top Kolkata Street Foods | Kolkata Food Walk Tour
- 1 10 Must Try Street Food in Kolkata
- 2 A Volunteer Street Food Tour with Kolkata Food Walk
- 3 How much does street food in Kolkata cost?
- 4 Trip planning for India ? Start here.
10 Must Try Street Food in Kolkata
Chaat, chai, chow mein, puri chat, samosas, curry,… are top Kolkata street foods which make this city phenomenal when it comes to popular Indian street food. Some hawkers practically work and sleep in their stalls. Each morning, they wake up and prepare food, hot, spicy and savory, for hungry Kolkatan passerbys. As a traveler, I had to try the popular street food of Kolkata deliciousness.
1. Kati Roll
Kati Roll is a popular fast food street kabob, of chicken or egg wrapped in an India paratha bread. Originating in Kolkata, the kati roll’s popularity is growing in the U.S.
2. Kachori Sabzi
Kachori Sabzi and Samosa are popular food items you’ll find on the streets. Kachori Sabzi is a deep fried puffed bread, which can be eaten with potato curry (aka sabzi) or with a samosa filling. You can get it off the streets. You can also find a cafe or local restaurant that sells it. I visited Mohan Bhandhar, a hole-in-the-wall eatery visited by Bollywood movie star Amitabh Bachan.
3. Samosa Masala & Samosa
Samosas are ubiquitous in India as a popular Indian food. You will easily find them on the streets to the local McDonalds. A samosa is a deep fried triangular pastry puff with a potato and pea stuffing. Interestingly, they can sometimes be served with ketchup.
Samosa masala (pictured below) is the masala stuffing of a samosa over a kachori sabzi bread.
Indian chai in Kolkata is a sweet, milky tea often served in clay earthen pot cups. The clay pots can be disposed after drinking or you can save yours for a souvenir.
5. Jhal Muri
Jhal Muri is a very popular street snack of spicy puffed rice chaat . Each vendor has their own masala mix from chopped onion, coriander, green chills, lime and chana dal, roasted peanuts, cucumber, etc… mixed with tamarind sauce, lime and mustard oil. It’s mixed in a steel bowl It’s spicy to pleasantly mild and refreshing.
A Volunteer Street Food Tour with Kolkata Food Walk
Teeming with street food lining the sidewalks, off-the-bat, I knew Kolkata was the street foodie capital of India. So I wanted to learn as much as I could about it. After all, you can’t be in a foodie capital and not sample what it’s best known for! Through some searches, I found Kolkata Food Walk, a voluntary food tour. Whuh? The word free sounded too good to be true.
But it was true.
Kolkata Food Walk is all about taking travelers to famous local food chefs and small local eateries. They’ll take you to the back alleys of the city so that you feel the local sense of the city. But for travelers who are reluctant to eat foods they are uncertain of, it’s a wonderful way to eat from street hawkers and cafes, worry-free and having a local guide take you to popular local spots is invaluable. Kolkata Food Walk’s local guides are volunteers, some are students working towards their PHDs, but they are passionate about their own city, its food and cuisine. You’ll “go dutch” and you pay for what you eat, but you’ll hardly feel a dent in your wallet.
I met Srotoswini at Andomela, a huge and busy electronics department store in Ballygunge Gardens. She was a young, intelligent and tiny bespeckled college student with a hearty knowledge for Bengali food. Hardly not the plump tour guide I was expecting. She led me around the neighborhood, showing me a variety of foods from street hawkers to hidden restaurants and 200 year old sweet shops.
My advice– come with a very empty stomach! All the food you sample will be to die for. By the end of the tour, you’ll be gorging yourself, just so you can experience all the deliciousness at your fingertips. Tipping your guide is recommended; it’s easily worth a tour price for a local’s time and hospitality. It also encourages volunteers to offer their time to the tour. I had an amazing time and you will too!
A few of the things I tried through Kolkata Food Walk tour are below (but there were certainly more!):
6. Kolkata Style Papri Chaat
Around India, Papri chaat is a popular street snack. But this was Kolkata style papri chat, a deep fried crust that’s used as a bed for the chaat. It contains everything from potatoes, cilantro, coriander, onions, bhuja and sweet sauce. It has sweet, sour and spicy flavors and a crunchy texture.
7. Vada with Coconut Chutney & Sambar
From the outside, Ram Krishna Lunch Home did not look like a restaurant or popular eatery of South Indian cuisine. It looked like a cross between a guesthouse and a non-descript building, which might entail a secret door knock. Inside, the ambiance was bright and lively. Here, Srotoswini introduced me to Vada, a type of deep fried Indian donut with a soft and creamy texture inside. It came with two dipping sauces of coconut milk chutney and a vegetable lentil stew called Sambar.
8. Ras malai
At Makhan Lal Das & Sons, a 200 year old sweet shop, I tasted ras malai, a sweet and spongy cheese dessert soaked in saffron milk. Absolutely yum.
Shondesh was my favorite Indian dessert of the evening. West Bengal sweets are mostly milk solids and I love my milk solid sweets! Shondesh is made of milk product, sugar and pistachio nuts and has a creamy and smooth taste. My favorite!
10. Malai Chumchum
Malai chumchum is similar to ras malai in that it’s cheese soaked in a sugary, milky juice. This Indian dessert was a little more sweet than the others and could see the juice ooze as you cut into it.
How much does street food in Kolkata cost?
India street food is relatively inexpensive, compared over restaurants. On average, I paid 5 -15 Rs (around 8 to 23 cents USD) at the street stalls on dishes and snacks that were all filling. Laborers come from other regions for work and they don’t rent apartments, but earn on average $5/day. A large population of Kolkata survives on street food.
What are your must try street food in Kolkata?
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