41 Best Food Dishes to Eat in Kolkata

Kolkata, often dubbed the "City of Joy," has another name in the hearts of gourmets: the "City of Flavors." Beyond its iconic architecture, cultural festivals, and bustling markets lies a culinary tapestry waiting to be explored. If you ever wonder about the city's cultural heartbeat, you'll find it in its food. A tapestry woven with spices, traditions, and culinary tales, each bite tells a story. One must know what to eat in Kolkata to deeply resonate with its spirit. From age-old eateries to contemporary cafes, the city promises an epicurean journey that traverses through time, showcasing its past, celebrating its present, and hinting at a delectable future.

Kolkata, has an undying love for food. The beauty of the city is the variety of street foods available at a pocket friendly price and satisfies your taste buds. From veg to Non veg, from familiar gully to high streets you will find a plethora of street foods. People move out in the evening with their loved ones to have street food like phuchka, jhalmuri, sweet dishes etc. People visiting here crave for trying the street food of Kolkata. Every street food stall in Kolkata serves delicate and spicy varieties of lip-smacking snacks.

Kolkata is a place where things to eat has its own place in the people's heart as well as streets with numerous restaurants with private rooms. Kolkata is famous for traditional Bengali food which majorly consists of fish and rice. This cuisine can be found in many places across the city. Well, fish and rasgulla are the one of the favorite food of the people.

Some of the other popular things to eat in Kolkata amongst bongs are Rolls at Kusum Rolls, biryani at Arsalan, phuchka (Bengali name for panipuri), club kachori and kullad wali chai (tea served in a clay cup) that can be found at various locations. Dim toast and baapuji cake is one of the most preferred breakfast of the people.

Out of all the things to eat in Kolkata, the desserts take the top spot. If there's one thing synonymous with Bengal, it's the love for sweets. In every nook and cranny of Kolkata, you'll find a sweet shop, each with its legacy. A trip to Kolkata without savoring the iconic sweets? It's unthinkable!

Best Food to Eat in Kolkata

Savory Delights from the Streets

1. Puchka

Phuchka is a fried dough ball stuffed with a filling of mashed potatoes mixed with spices and then filled with tamarind chutney, pickled water, pudina and lime. It is one of the most popular street food in Kolkata. In many other cities of India, it is called as 'pani-puri' or 'golgappa'.

Walking the streets of Kolkata is a sensory carnival. Sounds of sizzling, aromas wafting through the air, and hawkers calling out their specialties set the scene. Puchka, tiny hollow balls filled with tangy tamarind water and spicy fillings, offer an experience that's both crunchy and liquid, spicy and tangy.

Commonly known as golgappa in other states, Kolkata has its own uniqueness. Here it is not gol gappa, it is Phuchka. With smashed aloo masala inside the crunchy maida ball and tok-jol (lemon and tamarind water) it is irresistible to have one. You atleast need a dozen to stop.

2. Kathi Roll

With its origins steeped in Kolkata's history, Kathi Roll wraps spiced meat or veggies in flaky parathas, hinting at the city’s ability to adapt and innovate. Kathi Rolls are signature style wraps of Kolkata that are a top favourite among most Kolkatans and is a must-try for experiencing the street foods of the City of Joy. Kathi Rolls are flattened parathas (Indian breads) that are used as wraps for the stuffing of vegetarian or non-vegetarian rolls.

The non-veg Kathi rolls come in many variants including egg rolls, chicken rolls and mutton rolls and can be found at most hawker stalls of the streets of Kolkata. You can find any type of roll from the simple egg roll to chicken roll. The cheapest is usually the vegetable roll and the most expensive is double egg, double chicken roll. The spices are customisable, free of charge of course.

3. Jhalmuri

Jhalmuri is a street snack in Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, made of puffed rice and an assortment of spices, vegetables, chanachur and bhujia. Often had with tea for breakfast. Jhalmuri is a most popular roadside street food in Kolkata made from puffed rice, a combination of spices, crunchy mixtures, peanuts, chopped tomatoes, onions, lemon and oil are used to create Jhalmuri. Jhal in Hindi means spicy. Jhalmuri is served in a wide-mouthed envelope made from newspaper.

Jhalmuri is not just puffed rice mixed with spices; it's a crunchy melody of flavors.

4. Telebhaja

Telebhaja is a crispy bengali snacks made of onion rings, potato, pumpkin, tomato, chillis, brinjal, capsicum and literally any other vegetable by deep frying in oil made of besan batter. You can find most of the office-goers, college students and locals having chop and muri. Chop (deep fried veggies with besan) which is available as beguni, aloor chop, vegetable chop, dimer devil are like heavenly combination with puffed rice (muri).

5. Chicken Kabiraji

In indian cuisine, a cutlet specifically refers to mashed vegetables (potato, carrot, beans) or cooked meat (mutton, chicken or fish) stuffing that is fried with a batter/covering. The meat itself is cooked with spices - onion, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander (cilantro), green chillies, lemon and salt. Chicken and mutton cutlets are very popular snacks in the city of Kolkata.

6. Dim-er-Devil

The dish is a pure bliss. In Bengal, it's named as Dim-er-Devil. A proper tummy filler or starter you can say as its huge. The main attraction is that you will get this preparation made of poultry egg mainly in the city but they used to make it with Duck's egg.

7. Mughlai Paratha

The famous paratha made in Mughlai style, a deep-fried stuffed paratha that can be filled with potatoes, egg and minced meat. It is quite popular in West Bengal especially Kolkata.

8. Ghugni

Ghugni Chaat, a humble yet flavorsome dish, encapsulates the city’s spirit, where simplicity meets profound taste. Ghugni Chaat is a widely popular street side food in Kolkata. Ghugni chaat is prepared using white peas, yellow peas along with other essential ingredients like onion, mint, tamarind and coriander by hand tossing them on a hot pan. It is very similar to Ragda, a popular street food of Mumbai and this will surely interest Mumbaikars.

9. Churmur

Churmur is one of the most popular roadside street food in Kolkata and can be easily found in almost every roadside Phuchkawala cart. Churmur is basically the broken down version of Phuchka and is crunchy, tangy, sweet and savory, all at the same time. The ingredients include boiled potatoes, crushed phuchka, some spices, tamarind, chana, chillies and besan pakoda. It is generally served in a shalpata plate.

10. Singara

It is widely known as Samosa, all over India. It is a triangular shaped fried snack prepared by adding different spices to mashed potato which is used as a stuffing. It is best eaten with green chutney.

11. Radhaballavi

Beyond mainstream offerings, Kolkata hides culinary treasures that await discovery. Radhaballavi, with its soft, pillowy texture paired with Alur Dum, creates an unforgettable combination of flavors. Radha ballavi is specially served in parties and occasions with Aloo dom.

Traditional Bengali Meals

Kolkata’s culinary depth shines brightest in traditional meals. The union of rice and fish is more than just food—it's a way of life.

12. Ilish Bhapa

Also the Ilish maach is just awesome. Ilish curry, a monsoon favorite, captures the essence of rainy days, while Bhetki pampers the palate with its delicate flavors.

13. Mutton Kosha

But it isn't necessary that everyone likes eating fish, some are interested in Kosha Mangso too. Mutton Kosha, simmered for hours in spices, is a testament to the city's celebratory spirit.

Now comes Biryani. Though Hyderabadi Biryani maybe tasty and popular, but the Kolkata Biryani is pure love. The essence is the aloo present in the biryani and they also offer gravy along with the biryani.

Vegetarian Dishes That Steal the Show

For a city known for its fish, Kolkata’s vegetarian fare is surprisingly diverse and indulgent. One of the most interesting fact in Bengali Vegetarian food is that majority of them are made without onions and garlic.

14. Shukto

On the other end of the spectrum, Shukto, with its bittersweet flavors, emphasizes the beauty of balance. The key taste profile of Bengali food is a complex yet delicate mix of bitter, sweet, and pungent. The dish that represents this profile in its entirety is - shukto. Traditionally, shukto is the starter to an elaborate Bengali meal, to cleanse the palate. It's little bitter due to bitter gourd. It also has other vegetables like drumsticks, brinjal, raw banana, potatoes and other seasonal vegetables and cooked in very little oil and spices.

It’s a dish that teaches a profound lesson: Life, much like a Bengali meal, is a mix of different flavors, and each has its unique charm. Trying some of these traditional dishes will make your trip memorable and give new depth to your culinary adventure.

15. Alur Dom

It is a spicy curry of potatoes and is a perfect combination with korai shutir kochuri. <b>Kochuri</b>: The delicious street food that is highly consumed by the people of Kolkata in the early morning. Kachori Sabji is essentially deep fried bread that is served along with potato sabji. Along with kachori sabji, one can add jalebi or tea, as per their taste.

Luchi and aloo chorchori with lightly spiced potatoes is a Sunday affair.

16. Cholar Dal

Cholar Dal is Bengali breakfast dish. Bengal gram lentils cooked in coconut and spices that is served with hot and fluffy luchi. Cholar dal prepared with Bengal gram and coconut is a perfect combination in any get together and is also served with Luchi or Kachuri or Radhaballavi.

17. Potol Dolma

It is stuffed pointed gourd stuffed with chhena, nuts, potatoes and spices, in a gravy made in ghee.

18. Alu Posto

It is a potato curry with poppy seeds. Bengalis love affair with poppy seeds is versatile. Rice with Alu Posto is perfect for a warm, humid summer day to keep the body cool. Jhinge posto is a ridge gourd curry with poppy seeds.

19. Phulkopir Dalna

It is cauliflower curry with potatoes and is a Bengali favourite item for cool winter months. It is served with roti, rice, Pulao etc. Peper dalna is a light papaya gravy with chunky pieces eaten with rice, roti, paratha etc. Pepe ghonto is a dry, grated, green papaya curry with little grains of rice. It's an everyday item fit for breakfast, lunch, dinner.

20. Mochar Ghonto

Mochar Ghonto, a dish made from banana flowers, is a dance of textures and flavors, showcasing the ingenuity of Bengali vegetarian cooking. Mochar ghonto is prepared with banana flowers and are made into dry curry with very little oil and spices.

21. Labra

It is morning breakfast sabzi with ruti in many households and tastes divine with Khichuri.

22. Sona Muger Khichuri

Khichdi with moong dal is eaten with ghee and fries like brinjal and potatoes and is an item reserved for a rainy day.

23. Kumro Chechki

It is made with ripe pumpkin and very little oil and spices. It's a common item to be eaten with rice, paratha, roti. Ash groud curry better known as chalkumror torkari is an everyday curry best to eat with rice or roti.

24. Sim Paturi

It is prepared with broad beans wrapped in banana leaf with spices and mustard oil. It's pan fried in gas oven.

25. Bandhakopir Torkari

It is cabbage curry with peas with a hint of spice.

Pui Shak is added in a light curry with Malabar Spinach made with dal dumplings and vegetables.

26. Kolmi Shak Bhaja

Water spinach is a vegetable that grows in watery areas in Eastern States and North Eastern States of India. A Kolmi shak stir fry is a summer dish cooked with little oil, a clove of garlic and dry chilli. Bottle gourd leaves strew or lau shak curry is an everyday food in summer very little prepared with oil and spices.

27. Lau Pata Bata

It is very tasty and very few people know exactly how to make it. Thankuni pata bata or Indian Penny wort or Thankuni is an invasive species of herb found densely in Eastern and North Eastern States of India. It's eaten as a paste and has little minty flavour. People love Data Chorchori or drumsticks curry with mustard paste along with some other vegetables like potatoes, tomato, pumpkin etc.

28. Tomato chutney

It is made with reasonable amount of dates and raisins. The list is endless.

29. Begun Bhaja

Begun Bhaja is more than just fried eggplant. It's an ode to the beauty of simplicity—crispy on the outside, soft within, seasoned to perfection.

30. Dhokar Dalna

Dhokar Dalna reimagines lentils. Dhokar Dalna is prepared with steamed Bengal gram, and are chunky pieces in rich gravy. In this dish, lentils take on a new avatar—formed into cakes and bathed in a rich curry; they challenge every preconceived notion about vegetarian food, proving it can be just as robust and satisfying as any meat dish.

31. Chanar kofta

It is cottage cheese balls in rich gravy and is a must have with pulao. Kanchkolar kofta is prepared with raw banana for cooking is a different variety than that for eating. Its a dumpling made with spices, boiled raw banana and potatoes. It's a rich gravy eaten traditionally with rice. It's also served in feasts.

32. Echorer torkari

It is a raw Jackfruit curry. Echorer Dalna or raw jackfruit curry is also a top favourite, sumptuous dish.

Local Beverages to Wash Down the Delights

32. Cha

Beyond solid delights, Kolkata has a rich tapestry of beverages that complement its vast culinary landscape. Bharer Cha is an emotion. The clay cup adds an earthy flavor and grounds the drinking experience in tradition. Aam Panna, made with raw mangoes, sugar, and spices, captures the essence of sultry summers, offering a reprieve with every sip.

33. Mishti Doi

Mishti Doi served in tiny clay pots, is a testament to the art of fermentation. It combines the tang of yogurt with the sweetness of caramelized sugar, resulting in a comforting and exciting taste. It is not just about quenching thirst—it’s about lingering sweetness and a playful dance of flavors. Each sip invites another, making it an integral part of the city's culinary journey.

Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Dishes to Eat in Kolkata

How can one miss sweets when you are in Kolkata? Every gully has a sweet shop and everyone has to offer unique and tastiest sweets.

34. Rosogulla

It is another sweet dish that is being loved and consumed highly by most of the Bengalis. Rasgulla, with its soft, spongy texture and syrupy core, is a dessert that epitomizes joy. It is made with solidified milk preparation that easily melts in your mouth. Also not only rasgulla but pantua and sondesh are also awesome. The variety of sweets and their prices are also lower than most of the states.

35. Sandesh

Along with Rosogolla, Kolkata also homes the sweetest delicacy named Sandesh. The best Sandesh is available at Girish Chandra and Nakur Chandra sweet shops, being one of the oldest Halwais in Kolkata, they have mastered the art of Sandesh and other Bengali sweets. Sandesh comes in myriad forms, from the classic plain variety to those infused with fruits, chocolate, or even gold leaf.

36. Jilipi

During winters, a specialty marks the board, Gurer Sandesh which has liquid jaggery as its core. Jilipi or jalebi is a common sweet. But Muger Jilipi is another heaven. Usually, jilipi or jalebi is crispy, cracking under bite. Muger jilipi is soft, but not as soft chhana or cheese of any kind, firm but not like any other sweet you may have in mind. It is granular in texture, oozing the syrup, golden to light orange in color, and heavenly in bliss.

Then there's Chhanar Jilipi, a dessert that challenges categorization. Is it a jalebi? Is it a Gulab jamun? It's both, and yet, it’s unique. These dishes might not headline every food guide, but they are intrinsic to the city’s culinary narrative. To truly eat in Kolkata, it’s essential to explore beyond the famous to unearth these hidden gems that offer authentic and intimate tastes of the city.

37. Meetha Pan

Do not miss out on the Calcutta Meetha Pan, a mouth freshener that has its roots dug deep in the soil of Kolkata. As it’s a local specialty, it can be found at every corner.

38. Narkoler Naru

Nariyal ke laddu is simple and delicious, this dish is a winter season must have for Bengali households.

39. Taler Bora

Palm Fruit fritter is another legendary Bengali sweet. Made with pulp of ripe Palm, Coconut, Jaggery, Wheat Flour, Rice Flour and Kalonji, this heavenly deep fried sweet dish is relished by young and old alike.

40. Shor Bhaja

It is so uncommon, that even in Bengali community it is not that well known. This mouth melting sweet is made by collecting and layering the Malai or fat from top of hot milk, then pressing, shaping and dipping in flavoured syrup.

41. Pati Shapta

It looks suspiciously like a Dosa, but tastes nothing like it. Another winter season speciality, the entire family looks forward to the ceremonious making of this Rice Batter roll with Coconut and Jaggery filling.

To truly enjoy your prolonged culinary trip to India, you should consider renting a storage unit for your valuables.

Tips for Travelers

Timing and preparation are key as you prepare for your gastronomic adventure in Kolkata. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

♦ Drink bottled or boiled water to avoid stomach issues. Avoid ice in your drinks unless you're sure it's made from purified water

♦ Gradually introduce your stomach to spicy foods if you're not accustomed to them

♦ Bargaining is common in local markets, so don't hesitate to negotiate prices. Keep it friendly and respectful

♦ Keep your belongings secure. Use a money belt or a hidden pouch for important items

♦ For travelers concerned about safeguarding valuables during an extended stay, relosmart.asia suggests renting a secure storage unit. This practical step allows you to indulge in Kolkata's culinary world with peace of mind, knowing your possessions are safely stored away

The city’s diversity ensures something for everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions or preferences. The golden rule, however, remains: when in Kolkata, eat as the Kolkatans do. Diving into local flavors offers a taste and a true slice of the city's life, culture, and soul.

Going on these culinary trips always makes you feel more connected to the city you visited and gives you memories for life!

In Conclusion

Kolkata isn’t just a city; it’s an emotion best expressed through its food. Each dish, each flavor, is a reflection of its multifaceted history, its bustling streets, and its ever-evolving culture. It's a city where the past and the present converge seamlessly on the plate, offering visitors a unique gastronomic journey through time. When you eat in Kolkata, it's not just about satisfying your hunger. It's about experiencing a story, a tradition, and an emotion. From the bustling lanes of old markets to modern establishments, every eatery invites you to be part of Kolkata’s epic culinary tale. The promise is not just of tantalizing taste buds but of weaving memories that bind you to the city's heart, ensuring that every visitor leaves with an appetite for more and a lingering sense of nostalgia.

Kalyan Panja