A dollop of Bengal – from Chandni Chowk to China Town

When I mentioned ‘C’ being the letter of the day, my sexagenarian father announced – it is going to be either Cha (tea) or coffee. That is how addicted I’m to both these hot beverages – coffee for winter and tea for the whole year. But that’s for another day. From the legendary Coffee house on the paradise of book lovers – College Street (also known as Boi para), the royal Cooch Behar palace, the famous Chau Dance of Purulia to the historic Calcutta University established in 1857, I had quite a handful of options. But what made to the featured section today were two parts of Kolkata discovered during two entirely different phase – Chandni Chowk and China Town.

Chandni Chowk –

Chandni Market
Chandni Market from Sabir’s balcony

Situated in the central part of Kolkata, this place is primarily famous for two things – the gigantic Chandni market and old world restaurants. Chandni market is the hub for any kind of electronic items. From table lamps to cctv, everything is available here. The roadside hawker stalls as well as the shops have stocks of electronic items, specially Chinese ones that could give any conglomerate a run for money. Despite a booming e-commerce sector, the market has neither lost its charm nor appeal. However one definitely needs to brush up on their bargaining skills before venturing out to buy anything from here.

Sabir's special
Sabir’s special Mutton Rezala and Tandoori Roti

This area is also house to a lot of eateries – Sabir’s hotel being the most famous among them. Their vintage mutton rezala to be eaten with roti/Naan  is still irreplaceable.

China Town –

Tangra in eastern part of Kolkata is referred to as China town because it is home to the Chinese Indian nationals who migrated years ago. From an array of Chinese restaurants in the locality to the famous Tiretta Bazar serving Chinese street food, China Town is the paradise of food lovers for taste and affordability. While the delicious range of breakfast consisting of momos, dumplings, bao, non veg ball soup and rice zung is available everyday, the Sunday market takes the cake for having the widest variety of options. The market opens as early as 6 am and almost nothing is left by 7:30 am. Chinese New Year celebration here is a sight to behold. Amidst the umpteen restaurants, Bigg Boss, Beijing, Golden Joy are few of the famous ones though Kim Ling stays as a personal favorite. The food here is Chinese adapted to Indian taste buds. Kim Ling is famous not just because of the amazing and tasty food but also because of the affordable pricing. Overall the experience in China Town lets one have a peek into the nostalgia of the bygone era of the city.

Kim Ling special
The regular food at Kim Ling made special for its quantity, taste and affordability

The personal angle –

For me, Chandni Chowk is about a plethora of firsts – the first haggling over the price of a table lamp that barely lasted a month, the first affordable designer watch (of course chinese) and the first mutton rezala at Sabir’s being a few of them.

Kim Ling Pepper Fish
Pepper Fish from Kim Ling

During my eighth month pregnancy, I had availed maternity leave to temporarily move back to Kolkata. I had this severe problem of nausea and cramps which meant barring a couple of food items, I couldn’t even bear the sight of food. Yet while attending a reunion party in Kim Ling, I managed to taste few food items without throwing up. The only thing that I ever craved for during my last month of pregnancy was their pepper fish.

Until we meet again tomorrow, happy reading!

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Who am I? An erstwhile banker turned blogger/writer/author. Any qualifications? A Post-Graduate degree in Chemistry followed by a second Post-Graduate Diploma in Management. I completed a one-year MFA in creative writing course from the Writer's Village University, U.S. in Dec 2020. Though I must admit that I am still trying to figure out how and when I can connect all these dots. Have I done any real work? If two years in market research, six years in banking as a branch head, three-plus years of blogging, writing, and publishing a book can be considered as real work, then yes! Where do I live? After spending life like a nomad for sixteen years in Delhi, Bangalore & Mysore, I am back to where it all started from - Kolkata. My favorite things - Books, coffee, travel, food, and my five-year-old son. What is this blog about? Through Sonia's musings, I intend to explore writing in various genres, create social awareness, spread laughter, and give words to emotions. Anything for readers? You can check out my book 'Deal of Death' on Amazon Kindle. If you like fast-paced thrillers, this Detective fiction introducing the woman sleuth, Raya Ray could turn out to be your perfect weekend read.

40 thoughts on “A dollop of Bengal – from Chandni Chowk to China Town”

  1. As usual beautifully u took me to chandni chowk, college street where i used to shop my salwars. China town i have vague memories as a child. No compromises in your narration. Excellently described. In loved the way how u presented both these place from your angle. Sonia.. Tu kya cheez hai.. Brilliant. C is for Change. Do have your say on my post too. Have a nice day 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not fair, Sonia. Your posts are making my tongue wage a war with my brain to book tickets to Kolkata. You should write a foodie guide to Bengal. Another fantastic read. Keep them coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So recently i went to Kolkata and i heard momos are very famous, ur articles made me realize its not only momos but u get lot of food there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sonia, you have blended two distant cuisines well through C in your post and I found that quite unique. Glad that you took us through Chandni Chowk in so much detail and especially Sabir’s, as many do not know the unique charm that Kolkata’s Chandni Chowk carries. Happy to see you mention Coffee House and College Street in your intro, else Kolkata’s bengalis would have surely frowned upon you!

    Now I can almost guess your next stop in Bengal for D…. but I wont steal your thunder… let me see if my guess comes true tomorrow… waiting eagerly for your next stop!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! Great C post, Sonia. Thanks for re-igniting my silent wish to visit China town. I might actually dream of Kim Ling tonight, given my fondness for Chinese food.🙂 Thanks also for mentioning your favourite delicacy there. I’d be sure to try it when I visit the restaurant.
    I loved the humour in your baba’s Suggestion for C.
    Superb work. Shall see you again tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am tempted to go to China Town like right now. The food looks delicious and the range of breakfast seems tempting. What do you know, I had similar pregnancy cravings – fish, prawns 🙂 Another mouth watering post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like a true gastromnomic affair and something to be tried out if ever in Kolkatta! Your post made me drool with the food mentions 😉

    Color Master by Aimee Bender #atozchallenge

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This place sounds like a gastronomer’s delight, as well as a shopper’s! All you need is a weekend off, no house work to bother you, a full wallet an empty stomach and a few empty shopping bags! Wow! Just imagining about it makes me excited! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been to Tiretta Bazar especially for Chinese street food but didn’t know that Kolkata had Chandni Chowk too. Next time whenever I visit Kolkata I make sure that I taste the irreplaceable vintage mutton rezala at Sabir’s. Thanks for the info, Sonia 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved reading about Chandni Chowk. There is a Chandni Chowk in Delhi too somewhat similar to the one you have written about here. Everything Chinese and the need to be a good bargainer. I grew up in Delhi and your description brought back memories of childhood days.

    Liked by 1 person

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