Kolkata Street Food – The Ultimate Hungry Guide

By Mark Wiens 25 Comments
Kolkata street food lane (Deckers Lane now known as James Hickey Sarani)
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!

Jhal Muri
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

Pani Puri (Puchka)
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

Kolkata Indian street food
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)

Bhel Puri
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)

Kolkata Street Food - Batata Puri
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)

Veg Chow
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)

Pav Bhaji
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)

Fresh Fruit
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.

Kolkata street food
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

Kati Roll (Kathi Roll)
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)

Indian street food
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!

Kolkata street food meal
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?!

Street side ice cream in Kolkata, India
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.

Kolkata street food
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

Chai in a clay cup in Kolkata, India
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!

25 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

  • Srikanth Jeppu

    7 years ago

    Hey Mark
    All i would say you Rock Man…. I just love watching your videos, i am a big time food lover. Someday you should come down to Kerala and try some amazing food, i am sure you will love it!!!
    Mark i have a question for you, i am very eager to know which camera do you use to capture the video ? Seems to be your video and audio quality just awesome.

  • Uday Gupta

    7 years ago

    …and you need to try the food of India’s North East. Supremely spicy, but absolutely different from what you eat elsewhere in India. You can have entire North Eastern meals – with dishes ranging from eyewateringly hot to delicately subtle – without tasting ONE spice used elsewhere in India.

  • Uday Gupta

    7 years ago

    Hi Mark, A selection of things from my hometown, Kolkata, and where to eat them. Not my own list, but started by God knows which homesick Bangali expat, and now flying around the net. Most are still genuinely amazing, a handful overhyped, and one or two, sadly, only a good memory, having recently headed south in quality. You’ll need to google quite a few to actually understand what they are – do get back if you want clarifications.

    1. Kabiraji Cutlet from Regent (S N Banerjee Road)
    2. Moghlai Parota from Anadi Cabin (S N Banerjee Road)
    3. Kosha Mangsho from Golbari (Shyambazar)
    4. Phulkopir Singara from Mrityunjoy (Lansdowne)
    5. Double Egg Chicken Roll from Kusum (Park Steet) (Campari @ Gariahat & Nizam is a close contender!)
    6. Chicken Rezala from Shabbir (off C R Avenue)
    7. Steak at Oly pub (with beer!!)
    8. Ujjala’s Chanachur ( no comparison anywhere)
    9. Telebhaja from Putiram (College Street)
    10, Daab Chigri from Kewpies (Elgin Road)
    11. Chicken Cutlet from Baked & Fried/Mukherjee Sweets (Ballygunge Place)
    12. Bijoli Grill’s Fish Roll
    13. Mochar Chop Dhoka from Apanjan (Sadananda Road)
    14. Boudir’s Lebu Cha (Deshapriya Park)
    15. Kochuri & Tarkari from Tasty Corner (Mandeville Gardens)
    16. Phuchka/Churmur/ Dahi Phuchka from Bilas or Boudi (Southern Avenue)
    17. Chicken Cutlet near Samur (Bhowanipur)
    18. Mishti Doi & Rosogolla from Mithai (Beckbagan)
    19. Sandesh (all types) from Balaram (Bhowanipur) (Naram pak & Ice cream sandesh)
    20. Pantua from Bancharam
    21. Indrani from Ganguram/ Rabri from Chittaranhan/ Darbesh from Sen Mahasay /
    22. Amritti from Bhim Nag/Ganguram, Maniktala (Jalebis are no match)
    23. Aamer morobba – the best outside Gariahat market
    24. Kuler achar – the best outside Gariahat market
    25. Shukno mashla makha tetul – Available with the churanwalas outside all schools, much to the delight of the students and dismay of the parents !!
    25. Dulaler tal mishri
    26. Dulaler hojmi – mind boggling and healthy too
    27. Bikrampurer kashundi – Mustard just pales next to this
    28. Rabri: sharma’s and tiwari brothers. Equally good, equally sinful
    29. Rolls: Apart from hot kati, campari etc, the slim, succulent ones from Badshah on Lindsay Street
    30. Bundia: Not the soft Bengali variety called bonde. But the dry-on-the-outside, juicy-when-you-bite variety from Kaligodam in the heart of Burrabazar.
    31. Chops: Various kinds (fish, chicken, mocha etc) from Kalika on Surya Sen St. A stone’s throw from Putiram
    32. Prawn cocktail and angels on horseback from Mocambo
    33. Chandankheer: A variant of the chhanar payesh, from Jayashree, next to Bhim Nag in Bowbazar
    34. Cutlet/Fry: Chittoda on Dacres Lane. Even Writers’ gets the stuff from here
    35. Lyangcha: From Shri Hari in Bhowanipore. Also their gutke kochuri which sells out by 7 am
    36. Aflatoon: The submerged-in-ghee sweet from Bombay Sweets on Bentinck Street
    37. Doi: Jadab Chandra Das. white, himshitol. Closely followed by Amrito, Shyambajar
    38. Dimer devil: From Dilkhusa at the College St corner. But I hear they’ve downed shutters
    39. Dhoper Chop: From Milandar Canteen, Jadavpur University arts faculty
    40. Meatloaf, salami, roast: Kalman on Free School Street
    41. Nalen gur from Nadia
    42. Shor puriya from Krishnonagore
    43. Mutton Biryani from Alia (Bentick Street) or Arsalan
    44. Goat brain roll (pantha’r ghiloo roll) from Haji Saheb, Behala
    45. Brain masala at Amber
    46. Fish pakora- Bengal restaurant behala
    47. Baby corn manchurian- BBQ park street!
    48. Phuchka, in front of Vardaan Market
    49. Roast Chilli Pork, Chung Wah, Central Avenue (near the telegraph office)
    50. Chimney Soup, Eau Chew, Ganesh Chandra Avenue (Vijay Mallya loves the stuff here and orders it when in cal)
    51. Tea, Balwant Singh’s Hotel, next to the Harish Mukherjee Road Gurdwara, especially at 1 am at night in winter!
    52. Kesariya Firni, Aminia, Next to the municipal headquarters, esplanade (You can see the real zafraan strands in the cream). Also their Biryani, Kolkata’s lightest
    53. Mutton Chaanp, The Royal Indian Hotel, opposite Nakhoda Masjid, deep inside Chitpur, Kolkata’s Muslim heartland
    54. Chelo kebab from peter cat (park street)
    55. Sharbat from paramount (college street)
    56. Yummy rolls from hot kati rolls (park street)
    57. Khiri roll @ Nizam (New Market)
    58. Mutton pasanda kebab from the southern aminia golpark, opposite Mouchak.
    59. Komolabhog from a very tiny shop called madhureno beside jogesh changra college on anwar shah road
    60. Chicken cutlet from chacha’s hotel
    61. Ganguram-er mishti doi!
    62. Mangsher stew at AD Cabin (Sukhia Street),
    63. Mutton stew at Alia (Bentinck Street)

    • Elga

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the exhaustive list. I’m visiting Kolkata and dis sure is gonna help.

  • Franklin Alagala

    7 years ago

    Hello, Mark:
    You should visit Hyderabad and try our Hyderabadi Mutton Biryani and other Moghlai Dishes.
    They are world famous.
    Love you Mark. You are such a wonderful person.

    Best Regards
    Frank

  • anita

    8 years ago

    Mark – first started reading your posts about street food in Bangkok and you never led me wrong, so am looking forward to reading more of your posts on India. I have travelled in Thailand, Vietnam and China and the most enjoyable part was the street food or little restaurant stalls on the street. I am more adventurous trying food than most I know, and am fortunate that i have never gotten ill while traveling. I am headed to India soon, will be in Kolkata and Delhi and who knows where in between. It seems like contaminated water really is the biggest problem for sickness in India. I really want to enjoy all the street food, but am worried about eating things like the bhel puri and pani puri that include tamarind water or other ‘fresh’ ingredients. Any advice there?

  • annette steele

    8 years ago

    Brilliant stuff again Mark! I have followed your suggestions in Delhi and had the best time and fabulous food experiences. Keep it coming!

  • Pratim Ray

    8 years ago

    Hey Mark, it was great to read this article on Kolkata Street foods. I’m from Kolkata, but haven’t been in some places which you had mentioned here, like that restaurant “Bhajahary Manna”, though I’ve heard well about that place. Thanks for narrating the detailed experience and also that video was so nice to watch.

  • sunil

    9 years ago

    Hi Mark, I loved your moonstruck description of the food. However, I think you missed out on some of the most signature dishes of Bengal or maybe I haven’t come across them on your site Bengali sweets like Mishti Doi, Rasgulla, Gulab Jamun..The famed Bengali non vegetarian dishes in Mustard especially the Fish Paturi.. the legendary Mutton Biryani…crab, betki, the anglo-Indian baked items including cream rolls, sponge cakes and ginger biscuits…oh the list is legendary.. You must come back to India and take the train/bus everywhere to discover more and write more about the million dishes of Indian cuisine.

  • Sam

    9 years ago

    There are few you missed:
    Kachuri
    Singara( Bengali version of Samosa- Totally different filling)
    Korayishutti Kachori and its many varieties
    Chops(Veg and Non-veg)

    Please refer to a traditional Bengali and their meals, as I am not sure of their names. Try them, and you will be delighted

  • Shalini Ghosh

    9 years ago

    I happened to come across your articles today and I must say I loved it. They are amazing !!!!

  • Cam

    10 years ago

    Hi Mark — I have been receiving your Thai newsletter for sometime, and now I find you have an Indian blog as well! You really get around, and your tips for India are just as worthy as the ones for Thailand. In a few days I’ll arrive in Thailand to stay for a month before flying to Kolkata. I’ve been there before but never to Carmac Street — really looking forward to it. Thanks for sharing all of your valuable research. I feel so fortunate and grateful to be able to travel to these spectacular countries and to eat the amazing food.

  • subramanyam

    10 years ago

    Hi mark, this is subramanyam from Hyderbad in india. last so many days onwards iam looking for your new videos but not yet to see any new videos. please post it some new flicks……………. waiting to see !!!

  • Sant

    10 years ago

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

  • subramanyam

    10 years ago

    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……………………….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Samarth

    10 years ago

    Hey Mark,

    Really neat article. Took me back to Calcutta. Was there last year and explored the food scene. Here is a post that I wrote about the street food in Cal. Would love to know what you think.

    http://thehungrypilgrim.tumblr.com/post/51462403032/a-foodies-guide-to-calcutta

  • Dani Ramirez

    10 years ago

    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.

  • Yakub Mohammed

    10 years ago

    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

    • Yakub Mohammed

      10 years ago

      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.

  • Zainab Calc

    10 years ago

    Hi Mark the food looks delicious.You reminded my childhood memories.thnx bro.

  • Akash

    11 years ago

    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.

  • Vidhya

    11 years ago

    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!

  • ramram55

    11 years ago

    Please present Kolkata with video, if you can. thanks.

  • Paul

    11 years ago

    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.

  • Twisa Roy

    11 years ago

    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 !