Kolkata Street Food – The Ultimate Hungry Guide

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Kolkata street food lane (Deckers Lane now known as James Hickey Sarani)

Kolkata (also known as Calcutta), the third largest city in India, also happens to be one of the country’s friendliest cities for street food lovers.

Vendors are everywhere serving everything from famous Bengali snacks to full meals of rice and curry.

Serenaded by the constant stream of honking, foot traffic, and hawkers, there’s nothing better than biting into a tasty snack and washing it down with a clay cup of chai.

Enjoying Kolkata street food has to be one of the best things to do in Kolkata!

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Jhal Muri

Jhal Muri

Jhal Muri is one of the most famous and omnipresent Bengali street snacks represented in Kolkata. Nearly everywhere you look, you’ll find a vendor selling jhal muri.

It consists of puffed rice (like rice krispies), fried dal, peanuts, random crunchy things, fresh chopped onions, a few bits of fresh tomatoes, coriander, a handful of masala seasonings, and a light drizzle of mustard oil to top things off.

The ingredients are all added to a metal can and stirred up so the mustard is fragrant throughout the mixture. It’s eaten like a bag of chips, almost always from a newspaper bag.

Price – 10 – 20 INR ($0.18 – $0.37) depending on size

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Pani Puri (Puchka) – Kolkata street food

Pani Puri (Puchka or Golgappa)

Known throughout the country by different names, this is one of the most iconic and beloved Indian street food snacks.

It begins with a puri, a hollow round chip, that’s filled with spiced potatoes, and dunked into tamarind water before being served and eaten in a single bite.

Pani puri is an explosion of crunchy spice and flavor with a burst of watery goodness.

Price – 10 INR ($0.18) for 4

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Ghugni Chaat

Ghugni Chaat

Made from yellow peas (also known as yellow split peas), this Kolkata street food was one of my favorites.

The smoldering hot peas are added to a small leaf bowl, mixed with tomatoes, onions, coriander , tamarind water, and lime juice, served with a wooden spoon, and known locally as ghugni chaat (cool name, huh?)!

Price – 10 INR ($0.18)

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Bhel Puri

Bhel Puri

Especially famous in Mumbai, this is the Kolkata version of the famous Indian chaat (snack).

Little crunchy curls (that almost taste like uncooked ramen noodles), boiled potatoes, puffed rice (like in jhal muri), red onions, and coriander form the base of bhel puri. The dry and fresh ingredients are then dressed and mixed with tangy tamarind and spicy dressing. It’s tangy, sour, sweet and spicy, crunchy and fresh… in every bite.

Price – 20 INR ($0.37)

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Kolkata Street Food – Batata Puri

Batata Puri

Popular throughout India, this Kolkata version of papri chaat is a little different in that it doesn’t incorporate curd (yoghurt) like North Indian variations like in Delhi street food.

It begins with little deep fried fritters which are like chips that are laid out flat and covered in spiced potatoes, and a bunch of chutneys and sauces.

It’s like nachos, Indian style.

Price – 20 INR ($0.37)

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Veg Chow

Veg Chow

Until arriving in Kolkata (and all over India), I had no idea how popular Chinese influenced street food was. Veg chow (short for vegetable chowmein), as it’s commonly known in Kolkata, is stir fried noodles mixed with a few sprigs of veggies.

The noodles are scorched on high heat in Indian style woks so they are smokey flavored, and a bit on the greasy side. A plate of veg chow is salty, and dangerously tasty.

Price – 20 INR ($0.37)

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Pav Bhaji

Pav Bhaji (Paw Bhaji)

Popular and a quick and light snack all over India (particularly in Western India), pav bhaji is a vegetable potato curry paired with a toastes bun.

The curry is nicely spiced and the bread is often buttered and then toasted on the same hot platter as where the bhaji curry is slow cooking.

Price – 20 INR ($0.37)

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Fresh Fruit

Fresh Fruit

Fruit is cheap and widely available throughout India. These plates of pre-cut fruit in Kolkata were a little fresh fruit salad.

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Momos (Fried and Steamed)

Momos (Fried and Steamed)

Momos, the ubiquitous dumplings in Tibet and Nepal, are also commonly consumed in Northeastern India and Kolkata.

There are two versions, the steamed version, and the fried version. Veg is very common, but you can also find chicken, and even pork if you visit the Chinese morning Terreti market.

Price – 40 INR ($0.75) – fried pork momos

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Kati Roll (Kathi Roll)

Kati Roll (Kathi Roll)

One of the most famous Kolkata contributions to the world of Indian street food is the Kati roll. It’s essentially a paratha that’s stuffed with a choice of filling and wrapped into a handheld treat – like a burrito.

Chicken or mutton kebab meat, and eggs, are the common fillings, but paneer is also an option. As for Kolkata street food, when you’re craving something greasy and tasty, a kati roll is sure to please.

Nazim’s is credited with introducing the original kati roll, but I preferred Kusum Rolls.

Price – 40 INR ($0.75)

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Aloo gobi vegetable curry and fresh chapatis

Light Meal

Light meal options are also popular on the streets of Kolkata.

One of my favorite light meals or snacks is a spoon full of aloo gobi vegetable curry paired with a stack of freshly made chapatis that are roasted straight over the fire. Served with a wedge of red onion, chutney, and fresh chillies, this is a fantastic light meal.

Price – 15 INR ($0.28) – for this price, you could eat this all day long!

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Kolkata street food meal

Full Meal

But snacks alone cannot fully satisfy, especially when one is really hungry… and luckily Kolkata street food supplies some seriously tasty full meal options as well.

Both James Hickey Sarani (formerly known as Deckers Lane) and Camac Street were my two favorite streets for lunch. Rice and a variety of curries on top is a normal filling meal that also tastes wonderful. North Indian and Bengali food are both common.

Price – 30 INR ($0.56) – where else can you eat a full meal for that price?!

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Street side ice cream in Kolkata, India

Ice Cream Cone

Now I wouldn’t normally mention ice cream on one of my street food guides, but I had to throw this in because I think it’s the cheapest ice cream I’ve ever had in my life.

For just 7 INR ($0.13) you can get a single scoop cone! It’s not as spectacular as the Korean street food ice cream cones, but wow was this a budget cone… and pretty good for the price.

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Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi

A lassi is one of the creamiest versions of a milkshake I’ve ever had. This mango lassi tastes like mango puree combined with yoghurt and blended into a perfect concoction.

At the end, a few nuts and slices of cheese are tossed on top to complete a beverage that has to be one of the best things to consume in all of Kolkata.

Price – 25 INR

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Chai in a clay cup in Kolkata, India

Chai

Along with the delicious realm of Kolkata street food, you’ll need a beverage to wash it all down, and throughout India, chai is a widespread. In Kolkata they use clay cups to serve nearly every cup of chai

Price – 4 – 6 INR ($0.07 – $0.11)

I had a truly memorable time visiting the attractions in Kolkata, but as a food lover, there was nothing as memorable as the Kolkata street food.

Not only are snacks and meals widely available and tasty, the vendors are often friendly and excited to serve you!

Do you love food and travel too?

If so, I'd love to give you my FREE street food guide, "41 Irresistible Meals You'll Travel to Eat," plus you'll receive exclusive street food updates (it's free)!

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Mark, I should say you take good photos of street food; they really look delicious! I don’t mind eating like a local when I travel, however, one big concern I have is safety and sanitation. Heck, I got all the available Hepatitis vaccines before I started venturing into Latin America 5 years ago. Still, I got diarrhea twice in a 3-week trip to Guatemala (once for 2 days while I was in Tikal and another which lasted a week from when I flew back home to Buffalo), even though I followed all the precautions (drink only bottled water; see if lots of locals are patronizing it too, chances are it is clean; etc). I was wondering what other precautions you have in place before indulging. Because seriously, those food pictures definitely look tempting.

    • says

      Hey Jeruen,

      Thanks a lot for checking out this post. Along with the tips you mentioned like finding stalls that are busy with customers, and only drinking bottled water, here are a few more of my tips (might do another full post about this in the futures). Sometimes food can cause diarrhea, simply because the bacteria or the spices are different from what a person normally eats. So slowly adapting to food can take time – time which may or may not be available to a traveler. Since I’ve lived in SE Asia for the last 4 years eating lots of street food, my stomach may be a little more accustomed to the street food in India than someone coming directly from the US to India for a 2 week visit. Tip: It simply may take time to build up to, or adapt to, some of the street foods. So in this case, I would recommend someone to start off with only hot cooked food, and be quite cautious with street food.

      Another idea, and it may seem goofy, but bring your own plate / bowl – vendors would be happy to serve you. Sometimes it’s the plates that are merely washed in water from customer to customer and not really dried before serving the next portion, that are the problem. I really liked it when the street stalls in India used dry leaf plates (like the ghugni chaat).

  2. Twisa Roy says

    Hi Mark! There are many Street Foods that you posted are really tempting … Only my problem after I started living my Life in Europe, as soon as I try them I always fell sick.. Jesus Save me! But your writing is super as ALWAYS !!!! And no matter what I will try one of it as soon as I am going to India now. I loved Jhal Muri … Super !

    • says

      Hey Twisa, thanks for the comment. Food in India is definitely known for not being too friendly on the stomach, luckily I didn’t have any problems. The good thing about India is that there are also affordable indoor restaurants that serve some of these same street foods, and say they use filtered water (water being the root of many illnesses). So when you go to India you’ll find some of these same things at restaurants as well.

  3. says

    I would totally go to India just for the food. I actually live in a pretty big Indian neighbourhood right now in the US, but the food isn’t exactly budget-friendly!

  4. Paul says

    Great post Mark!

    It’s interesting to see the “containers” used in lieu of the prefabricated paper or Styrofoam boxes, plates etc for a lot of this street food. I remember in Thailand they use plastic bags and banana leaves for disposable containers on the street. It seems that there’s a lot of paper recycling going on in India. I see three of your snacks served on printed paper. Do you know anything about where they get the paper from? It doesn’t look like newspaper.

    • says

      Hey Paul, absolutely no idea where they get that paper, but it just looks like some kind of scrap paper from a business. They also frequently use newspaper, but my favorite are the leaf bowls / plates – the best recyclable material.

    • says

      Hello Paul,

      Most of the street food in India are served on useless paper (newspapers, magazine covers etc which are bought from “Kabadi Wala” or a scrap dealer), and sometimes you may come across proper paper plates which are again made by recycling papers.

      And the other one and the most used are plates and bowls made from Banyan and Sal leaf which are also called as “Pattal”.

    • says

      Hey Steph, yes some of the street food is not the cleanest, but I agree, it’s simply irresistible. As I was eating the pani puri’s once in Kolkata a lady walked paste and said, “don’t eat too many, it will give you a tummy ache.”

  5. says

    A wonderful post which has made me hungry!! The Jhal Muri is actually Kolkata’s version of the Mumbai’s Bhel!! The only difference is the temperance of Mustard oil which is absent in our Bhel! Also here we add 3 types of chutneys in it!
    Batata (which means a potato) Puri is again the famous Sev Puri of Mumbai!!
    Pav Bhaji is again famous in Mumbai, not so much in the Eastern part of India. How was the Pav, was it a bit sweet in taste?
    I am glad you had such a wonderful time in Kolkata, where are you now?

    • says

      Hey Arti, thanks a lot for your insights into these dishes and snacks. I would have loved to visit Mumbai, but hope I can in the future. I’m now in Nepal and will be heading back to Thailand soon. Yes, I remember the bread being just a little sweet. Is that the same as in Mumbai? Thanks again for all your help!

      • says

        That bread or Pav is that we get in Mumbai is very different from rest of India. In most other places it is a bit sweet, not in Mumbai though where it is unsweetened!!
        The same Pav is also used in the Lip smacking Vada Pav and Misal Pav :)
        Hope you visit India again and Mumbai is on your itinerary then :)

  6. says

    Wow. I am honestly overwhelmed right now! I tasted a number of Indian and Persian Food, but it is interesting to see what the food stalls in Kolkata has to offer. The presentation is also interesting. I wonder how the Batata Puri tastes like. The Mango Lassi surely looks sweet!

  7. says

    It was really nice information im jimmy and discovers many places in the world I found some of incredible destination like Kashmir and Rajasthan India.

  8. Vidhya says

    Mark! I grew up in Chennai but have not lived in India for the last 10 years. When I visit my parents now, I am careful to not eat anything outside because am concerned about falling sick.
    My friends who have always lived in India are able to eat anywhere outside without falling sick. So I guess when we live in highly sanitized conditions, we lose much of our resistance and end up missing the good stuff in life :)

    But looking at your post makes me want to go back right now and eat all the yummy road side food!

  9. says

    Hi Mark, it is another most visually beautiful post I came across on your website. At times, I terribly miss my city Kolkata as I am in Hyderabad nowadays. It feels good to connect with my city through these street foods. In this context, I would like to mention that “alu chop”, an evening special snacky delicacy stuffed with spiced potato mash, is missing from your post. Please do check it. It is an important part of streetfood culture in Bengal.

    • says

      Hey Sourav, thank you very much for checking it out, glad to hear you’re from Kolkata. Thank you for your suggestion for alu chop, I had some in other parts of India, but not it Kolkata. I really want to go back for more Kolkata food!

  10. Akash says

    Hey,I was born in Kolkata and presently I am living here.You missed out one thing,Kachori(Puri Sabji) which is the most famous breakfast of Kolkata.

  11. says

    Hi Mark,

    wonderful Indian food suggestions, that mango lassi does look tempting. Back home though, Indian restaurants are quite pricey. I’m not really sure why. Anyway, you’ve inspired me to try more Indian food now. thanks

    Iza

  12. Yakub Mohammed says

    It seems Mark, that u hv been only to Delhi and Kolkata in India. U need to work a lot harder to get more idea about any place. I came to know u from YouTube when I tried ti find travel videos of India. Luckily I found your video 21 things to do in Delhi, which I thoroughly enjoy and subscribe to your website. Pls send me the video link of amazing travel video or amazing travel articles

    • says

      Hello Yakub, thank you for watching my videos and for reading my blogs. Yah, I wish I would have had more time in India, I was only there for 2 months, and only got to see a small part of India so far!

      • Yakub Mohammed says

        Thanks a lot Mark for replying me do fast. I am very happy that u r so responsible and courteous. I will definitely watch all ur videos. They r so nice. But bro, I want to see video of all the hottest place of India. I am looking for such type of videos with bated breath. Anyhow I just saw ur Bangkok video Top 21 things to do in Bangkok. Great going, I hv also downloaded 41 Irresistible foods to eat which I will read anyhow. U r very lovely person. I thoroughly enjoyed ur video at Dacres Lane, Kolkata. U keep doing this great work, we love u.

  13. Dani Ramirez says

    Last month I visited the city of Joy and I fell in love with the Bengali food, I booked a Gastronomic tour through http://www.letsmeetuptours.com the guide took me to various neighborhoods famous for street food. I had phuchkas, papri chat at Emami Land mark market, had sandesh, Madhupak and rasogulla at North Kolkata…had a perfect Bengali meal at Bhojo hari Manna at Garia hatt.

  14. says

    Hey Mark,

    I’ve been following your youtube channel and blogs on and off for a while. Was most surprised to see this writeup on my hometown! You’ve managed to go to just the right places, and this was no exception.

    I absolutely love your direct, pretension-free approach while savouring street food the world over, and especially swear by your Bangkok guides. Keep travelling.

    The next time you’re in Kolkata, do try College Street and central Kolkata for its old-world Bengali and Anglo-Indian dishes. I highly recommend the ancient, crumbling Edwardian-era Coffee House with its unbelievable atmosphere, and its baked fish and coffee, the sherbet at Paramount, the Calcutta-style biryani and mutton chaanp at Shiraz or Ar-Salan, the fish cutlets and crumb-fried goodies at Kalika on Amherst Street.

    Hope to see you in the city soon!

    • says

      Hi Hirsute, thank you for reading and great to hear that you’re from Kolkata – I really enjoyed visiting, and the food was awesome. Alright, will definitely remember your suggestions for my next visit, my mouth is already watering. Are you living in Kolkata now?

  15. subramanyam says

    Hi mark wiens iam very very big fan of you. specially i like your facial expressions when you are eating. my mouth becomes watery when i look at your videos. ( brilliant Ga Yang recipe ) your are amazing. most of your videos all are simple awesome. iam also big food lover as well as i am international travel agent in Hyderbad SOUTH INDIA. my humble request for you that only you have been visit in only north india in INDIA, my request is you have to visit south india also then you will see what are the best dishes in this world ( surely very spicy ) like chicken dum biriyani etc…. and any other mouth watering dishes known as so spicy south india food. iam sure you will have fire on your mouth. and i have seen all you videos through out world which you have been visited in every place. SO PLEASE COME TO SOUTH INDIA PLACES LIKE HYDERBAD, CHENNAI, BANGLORE. iam waiting for you……………………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • says

      Hi Subramanyam, great to hear form you, thank you very much for watching my videos. I would love to visit South India, I’m really hoping to in the future, I can’t wait for the food. Thanks again, hope you are doing great.

  16. Sant says

    Good list but there are a couple of glaring omissions. No Kolkata street food list can leave out the shingara (samosa) and the jilabi!

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