If you have been reading Pendown, you know I am in MUMBAI for two weeks and I am making the most of it. Here is another interesting food experience that must be talked about. 

 

The wife hails from Rajasthan and the husband is a Bengali from Kolkata. One works in media and the other has bid goodbye to the hay days of advertising after working for 17 years. The wife attends her office for 5 days in the week and helps him on the weekends. The husband says he loved his job but had reached a stage where he had started missing the freedom to experiment. He always loved to help his mother in the kitchen and today he intelligently uses his creative side to the business that is all about his passion. We are talking about Mr. Sanjay Mukherjee, who owns a restaurant in Andheri east, Mumbai. He not only loves to cook but also experiment, expand and research around Bengali food with the aim to make the people of Mumbai relish the flavors  of authentic Kolkata food. I wouldn’t have known so much if I had not attended their ‘Kolkata Street Food Festival’ running at Kolkata Callin’. The Durga Puja celebrations are still not over here in this authentic and rustic space that thrives in Bengali cuisine. 

 

Kolkata Callin, FIsh chop, Veg chop. Mumbai

Street Food Festival, Andheri, Mumbai, Bengali cuisine

 

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The puchkas got my eye at the first instant. They looked so tempting on the poster right at the entrance of the restaurant that I could not notice anything else.  The  moment we walked in the restaurant, the Bengali vibes arrested our eyes. This bangla restaurant was not like the one’s that I had visited earlier.  It looked calm and cozy. Books were part of the decor. There was Tintin too. On the walls there was black and white photo frames and the hanging lamps were beautiful. 

 

Food impresses you through the eyes first and Kolkata Callin’ has used this concept brilliantly by placing the highlights of Bengali festival right there at the first table in the center. So in this age of fusion, where we have actually forgotten the local flavors, I was delighted to be reminded of the Bengali snacks and street platter. Ghugni, puchkas, fish chops, Doi Bada have always been my favorite and I was thrilled to see them together. Just while I was preparing myself for eating these and more, the wafting aroma of the fish cooked in mustard oil reached my nostrils and salivated my taste buds. The hotel was a packed house and we had to wait for sometime to get a table. I was there with three friends. I must tell that I was invited to this place for food tasting but what is written here is all what I experienced personally. 

 

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Bangla food, Bengali restaurant

 

21st to 31st October, Street Food, Bengali cuisine

Food Journey!!

Once we were settled on the table, it was hard to keep away from food. The first thing my friends wanted to savor was puchkas. Who doesn’t love the paanipuris?  When the plates arrived, we digged in impatiently. The paani was super yum. In Mumbai, I have never eaten such a relishing plate of paanipuris yet. This actually set the tone for the food festival. Now we couldn’t stop. Now here you must notice the size of the puchkas. They have to be big and crispy. The filling inside was quite close to the ones we get in Lucknow too. 

 

This did not look like a regular street food fest and should not be taken as one too. It has been meticulously curated by experts like Mr. Subhash Das (fondly known as Benuda in Naktala, Kolkata where he has his renowned Phuchka hub which is about 25 years old and is frequented by the who’s who of the city). 

 

Mr. Das, with his spectrum of experience has pioneered a plethora of culinary events in Kolkata and Mumbai. He was instrumental in organizing one of the most successful Street Food Festivals for the City Centre Kolkata in the year 2014 and early 2015.

Kolkata callin street food festival (14)

 

Puckhas

 

Chaat Papri

 

Kolkata’s rich culture is so much about its delicious cuisines. I quite liked the concept of the festival. First one learns about Bengali cuisine and second you get to enjoy the street food in the comfort of a restaurant. So there is guaranteed hygiene and  luxury of eating in the comfort of air conditioner.  I was actually looking forward to this festival more because in the 9 days of Navratras fasting, non-bengalis cannot savor the non-veg delights. So fish chop and chicken biryani was next on my mind. Nevertheless I was absolutely enjoying the chaat padri and ghugni as well.  The pictures below will tell their own story. 

 

Ghungni was just what I would make of the boiled matar at my home. Every item that we tasted was different from the other. The tastes were unique and very satisfying to the taste buds. The fish chops served with mustard sauce was just like one I had eaten at a Bengali friend’s house. The crispiness on the outside and the softness in the inside was a winning combination. If you love spicy food, go for the Aloo Dum for sure. You must do the veg chops too. They are made from beetroots. But for a hardcore non-vegetarian, the Biryani was the show stopper. I was full already otherwise I would have helped myself with another plate. My friends too relished every thing and rather they did not talk much but concentrated on eating. So when the food is good, you really know what is the priority. 

 

Ghugni

 

Kolkata callin street food festival (17)

 

Veg chop

 

While we were relishing the tangy, spicy and sweet delights of the Bengali street food, I also happened to get in the conversation with the wife of the owner of the restaurant. I was really very curious to know the background story. And when she began to tell, I was hooked to this interesting roller coaster ride. In 2012, the love for cooking and food got her husband into starting KOLKATA CALLIN, but it was just an experiment for them because they had no clue of restaurant business. So they started it on a QSR model at the Mahakali road where the menu comprised of the Bengali snacks.  On the first day, the cook hired by them did not turn up. Mr. Sanjay cooked himself.The wife learnt to make samosas. The cook did not come for 15 days but they did not stop at all. He went on to do it alone with the support of his family. Thank God he was a great cook himself. 

 

The feedback from the customers did not let dishearten them. They were inspired to serve better and do more. They were all set to follow their dreams. The aim was to serve people with Bengali food that was close to home. After 2 years, in 2014 they have set up a Resturant in Andheri. Isn’t it brilliant? They do not call themselves masters of anything, they are open to suggestions but they stand by their research and authenticity. They want Kolkata callin should be a place that should cut you off from Mumbai and take you in the lanes of Kolkata where every street has something interesting to offer.  Before adding anything on the menu, they really work around its background and do not include it until they are convinced about its authenticity..

 

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Chicken Biryani

 

Dahi bada

 

While the taste of Biryani was still settling down, the plate of Doi bada arrived. Yes, I did forget for a moment that I was sitting in a restaurant in Mumbai. In fact I found the food closer to what I have grown up eating in Lucknow. I say so because I have never been to Kolkata and Delhi street food concept is totally different. 

 

This is not the first food festival at KC. They have already done two, one a new year festival in April and second a raw mango festival where they celebrated the journey of the Mango. Wow, this sounded fun to the biggest fan of Mango, thats me. Next time when I am here, I must do this. For every festival they take six months to research and that’s really wonderful. I really enjoyed the food. 

 

Kolkata Callin’ is  celebrating Durga Pujo 2015 with  Kolkata Street Food Festival from the 20th October to 31st October 2015. Do check it out!

 

Sanjay Mukherjee
The owner- Sanjay Mukherjee

 

Written by

Manjulika Pramod

An engineer who loves to be called a blogger more!
Traveler, short-story writer, voracious reader, foodie is the better me!
Reading, eating, traveling, exploring, observing and blogging are the beautiful highs of my life.