Infusion and Sherbet in Boipara, Kolkata

The second food trail I would suggest if you are in Kolkata during summers is to hop around Boipara. Boipara is a neighbourhood of books. And Calcutta boasts one such boipara which bears the imprint of the colonial pasts, reform movement as well as the student movement that rocked the 70s. It is the epicentre of some of the finest schools, colleges and needless to say books. M.G. Road named after Mahatma Gandhi connects College Street to Howrah Station and Sealdah station, the two stations that hosts thousands of trains. As you walk by the lanes of College Street / Boipara, you will be welcomed into the world of books by numerous hawkers rattling off latest testpapers for Madhyamik/ Uchhamadhyamik, guidebooks that will help you sail through JEE/ PMT/IIT as well as I.C.S.E., I.S.C test papers. Stalls are painted with white, blue and yellow to announce the latest arrivals and the treasure house of most of these stalls lie in the stack of piled old books. Amidst these book stalls, there are some famous places to eat, chat and debate, perfect adda places.
One of the legendary institutions in College Street is the Coffee House. As one makes way through the stairs, posters of various student organisations lead you to the first floor and no trip to Coffee House is complete without a cup of Infusion. It will take you an entire day to taste what is available on the menu and my favourite picks are Chicken Kobiraji and Chicken Cutlet. In my last visit to Coffee House, I braved the rains and waited for a friend who was visiting the city. Both of us made our way to Coffee House and polished off the Chicken Cutlet and Infusion and after an adda which ranged from Malaysia’s politics to my careers I told A that we are going to Paramount.
interiors paramount

Paramount needs no introduction to my friends and colleagues from Kolkata. This legendary institution by late Nihar Ranjan Majumdar has been selling home-made drinks since 1918. A and I sit occupy one of the benches and we ask for a menu.
menu
The menu arrives and we are spoilt for a choice to have close to special drinks made from pulp of passion fruit, mango, tender coconut, strawberry, pineapple and others. For cream lovers there is cream rose, cream lemon, cream lemon and even cream lassi. Both of us settled for Dab Sarbat( a drink made from tender coconut).

dab serbet
Dab Sarbat reminded me of a custom of buying school text books in summer holidays in College street followed by a stop over at Paramount. I convince A to order Dab Sarbat. As we sip our drinks, an elderly gentleman walks up to us and ask us if we liked the drink. A tells him its her first visit and she really likes it and asks about the recipe. The gentleman sits down with us and shares a fascinating journey of Paramount. The gentleman is none other than Mrigendu Majumdar. He tells us that Tender Coconut Sarbat was created under the guidance of famous scientist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray. He points to the framed picture of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray and tells that without his inputs this flavourful sarbat could not be created.
acharya prafulla chandra ray

He sources tender coconut from Basirhat for this special sarbat. Mrigendu Majumdar by training is a lawyer and has been instrumental in introducing a new drink that caught our eyes- Passion Fruit Drink. He recommended us to try out the signature Tamarind Drink to beat the heat. This legendary institution of drinks was also an important meeting point of revolutionaries who gathered here for meetings. Then, ‘it was known as Paradise’, tells Mr Majumdar. By 1937, British came to know of Biplobi Sammilani Samiti and Paradise was renamed as Paramount. Paramount has come a long way and as Mrigendu Majumdar prepares himself to leave for distant shores to take Paramount to non resident fans he shares of plans of celebrating 100 years of Paramount in a big grand way. Paramount will be 100 in 2018 and he plans to introduce new drinks as well as put on various memorabilia at display. A and I promise that we will be back in 2018 and wait for the new surprises.

paramount
Paramount
For bulk orders call Mr. Majumdar @ 9674215355
1/1/1 D Bankim Chatterjee Street, Kolkata 73.
Email : paramountsherbet@gmail.com
Website:www.paramountsherbet.com
Check Menu: http://www.paramountsherbet.com/our-menu.html

In the land of rolls and cutlets

I apologise to itiriti’s readers for staying away from blogging. Deadlines kept me away from blogging for few months. As I revive my plan to blog once again, I bring to you a series of food walks that you could undertake if you are planning to visit City of Joy. Let me confess that it is not the best time to be visiting Kolkata due to the increasing mercury levels as well the humidity. Still, the city’s lifeline lies in the evening strolls along the ghats of Hooghly river.
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On one such evening DP, SM and I ventured out to Bagbazar Ferry Ghat. The ghat is well connected to Sovabazar, Howrah Railway station through the ferry service. As we waited at the jetty enjoying the cool breeze, we tried out one of the wonderful street food that you can enjoy along the ghats- Ghotigaram.
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Ghotigaram takes its name from the heap of coal cakes that keeps the bhujia mix warm as the hawker carries it around in a recycled oil tin with several aluminium cups with chopped onions, cucumber, amra, chat masala, salt, chopped chillies and a bottle of oil. Ghotigorom is available for Rs 5 and Rs 10. Newest addition to add a crunchy flavour is chopped carrots.
Take a stroll, work on your appetite and head off to Allen Kitchen on 40/1 Jatindra Mohan Avenue. If you are a non-user of google maps and rely on landmarks I suggest that you use Sovabazar metro station as a landmark to reach this legendary place. If you plan to take a walk along Bagbazar ghat and walk down to Allen you have to cross metro station and keep on walking towards Girish Park Metro station. Another legendary place of cutlets (Mitra Café is on the opposite lane of Allen Kitchen). After you take a nice walk from Sovabazar metro station (towards Girish Park) you shall spot the blue board welcoming you.
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Allen Kitchen is known for its Prawn Cutlet. You should trek down to Allen to soak up nostalgia, skip the coolness of your air conditioner and dig into one of the many versions of cutlets the city has to offer. Cutlets are part of the colonial legacy and the city’s obsession with cutlets, steak and kabiraji have gave birth to many a legendary institution. Allen’s Prawn Cutlet is fried in a brand of ghee that many of us might be familiar with. Lakshmi Ghee is a well-known brand of clarified butter made from cow milk.
prawn cutlet edit
Usually synonymous with luchi this cutlet smells divine and we could not wait to dig into the juicy prawn coated in a nicely salted coating. This simple coating enhances the prawn and smell of Lakshmi ghee lingers on. Served with salad (chopped onions, cucumber and green chillies), kashundi ( mustard sauce indigenous to Bengal) prawn cutlet remains a stealer because of its simplicity.

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We also ordered steak (mutton) which comes with an interesting sauce high on ginger paste. While I leave to your imagination why and how this steak came to be served in Allen Kitchen, its time to get back to work.

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