Delhi might have its chole bhature, Mumbai its pav bhaji, Kerala its dosa, but in Kolkata, when it comes to street food, none beats the indomitably tasty puchkas. It has many names such as gupchup, golgappa, or pani ke patashe and is found all over the country and each region has its own specialty when it comes to the dish’s preparations. In Kolkata, however, it is ubiquitously called puchka, and calling it by any other name is an abomination. It is also referred to as puchka in the rest of West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand and Bihar.
There are thousands of roadside vendors in Kolkata selling this deep-fried crunchy piece of dough, that’s hollow on the inside, is about the size of a golf ball, and is thin like a potato chip on all sides. Generally, they fill it with a mix of mashed potato, gondhoraj lebu, spices, peas, salt, and pepper and serve it with spiced tamarind juice. You may call me biased when I say that Kolkata's puchkas are the best and I am not just saying that because it's my hometown. I have had puchkas from all over the country but don’t take my word for it. We have curated some of the best places where you can have puchkas in Kolkata and decide for yourself if Kolkata’s puchkas are indeed the city’s crowning jewels of evening snacks.
I. Vivekananda Park
Vivekananda Park is not just a paradise for young lovers and sports enthusiasts. It also has some of the best street foods Kolkata has to offer. During evenings, the place is bustling with activity. Just outside Vivekananda Park is Dilip Da’s Puchka Centre. People from all over the city flock to him not just because of his custom-made puchkas but also his charming and amiable personality. He also caters for weddings, serving innovative preparations such as mutton puchka, paneer puchka and chocolate puchka, among others. Dilip Da also prepares dahi puchkas, which is essentially a plate of curd-filled puchkas, with crispy bhuji sprinkled all over it and a thick sweet chutney on top.
Address: Kavi Bhartati Sarani, Hemanta Mukherjee Sarani, Lake Terrace, Ballygunge
II. Vardaan Market
Vardaan Market is an old one-stop shopping destination in Kolkata. From flea markets to branded stores, you will find it all here. What you will also find is Krisnakant Sharma’s renowned puchka stall. His specialty is the distinct flavor because of his special homemade spice. Along with the delicious puchkas, one can enjoy the aroma of methi, dhaniya, ajwain, saunf and jeera that is mixed in the juice. Even though the puchkas in Vardhaan Market are slightly expensive compared to the other places on our list, they are totally worth it.
Address: No. 25A, Camac Street
III. Lake Kalibari
Lake Kalibar has one of the most famous Durga Puja pandals every year. But all year round, you will find Durga Pandit ka Puchka, which is equally famous are among the best in the city.They not only serve puchkas but also have variations such as dahi puchka, and aloo dum puchka. Aloo-dum puchka brings together the two things Kolkata loves a lot and after tasting it, you’ll surely say that they are made for each other.
Address: 107, Sree Sree 108 Karunamoyee Kalimata Mandir, 1, Southern Ave, Rabindra Sarobar, Ballygunge
IV. Bara Bazaar
Getting to taste the puchka at Bara Bazaar is a thoroughly competitive affair. You may have to push and shove your way in to get noticed by the puchkawala who sits near the Bara Bazaar police station. There is always a crowd surrounding him, holding a leaf plate in hand, and vying for his attention. The puchka seller adds hing (asafoetida) to the puchka water, which further enhances the flavor.
Address: Road, No. 8, Mallick St, Kesoram Katra, Bortola, Barabazar Market
Not all of us are brave enough to have puchkas from roadside stalls. There is no denying that as tasty as their preparations are, puchkawalas have questionable hygiene. Even though I have never had a tummy ache after having puchkas from anywhere, not all of us have an iron-clad stomach. If you are worried about the hygiene and quality of the street vendors selling phuchkas, go to to the newly opened Puckalacious in City Centre (New Town). They sell customized puchkas such as cheese puchka, corn mayo, dahi puchka, etc. They even have tutti fruity and nutella puchkas! Ever heard of puchka pan? They serve that as well. However, as you can guess the prices are relatively steeper.
Address: Mouza Nowapara, City Centre 2, JL No.-11, 5, Action Area IID, Newtown
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