The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kolkata sandwich trail part 1 : Chandni Chowk-Esplanade

This is one culinary influence Kolkata seems to have got from Mumbai that I am happy about. Mumbai loves its sandwiches and it’s not hard to spot a roadside sandwich stall in many parts of the city. I am fond of the sandwiches that Mumbai offers.

As it is, I am always on the lookout for healthier snacking and sandwich happens to be one of my favourite snacks. I find it a happy marriage of health and taste.

It’s pleasing to note that Kolkata is increasingly warming up to this delicious, filling and pocket-friendly snack. In the last five years or so a couple of roadside sandwich stalls have opened in Chandni Chowk-Esplanade area adding more variety to the already available wide number of snacking / light meal choices. There are five, all on a straight line from the Bentinck-Street-Ganesh Chandra Avenue crossing to where Bentinck Street ends in Esplanade. So, this stretch can easily be named ‘The sandwich zone’. All the stalls make the sandwich in front of you and offer a generic menu of grilled vegetarian sandwiches - veg sandwich, special veg sandwich (with mayonnaise), veg cheese sandwich, corn sandwich, paneer sandwich etc. The fresh-from-oven sandwiches are served with potato chips and tomato and chilli sauce on the side. The taste and pricing are more or less the same in all the places, so if you find one stall busy, you may walk down to the next. The pricing is honest – it starts from as low as Rs 25 (veg sandwich) which is the cost of an egg roll.

They pat some bread spread on the bread slices, put sliced vegetables - tomato, onion, carrot and capsicum between them, sprinkle spices (which add to the delicious taste) and put it to the griller. Add Rs five and get a squeeze of mayonnaise and another Rs five to get a cheese slice in your sandwich. If you are looking for a quick, light meal, one should suffice. It’s a favourite with office-going and field executives.

The first shop I noticed is on Prafulla Sarkar Street since my workplace shifted to the area nearly seven years back. It is next to a cigarette shop and close to White House which is what the ABP office is known as. This sandwich shop is definitely the oldest in the area and makes tasty stuff, but my complaint is the sandwich bread it uses – much smaller.  Other than this, one of the early starters is on Ganesh Chandra Avenue, at the crossing of Bentinck Street. Facing Bentinck Street standing on GC Avenue it comes on the left footpath. It is quite in demand but what puts me off is that it takes the longest among all to serve. My favourite one is located just diagonally across the road (on RN Mukherjee Road), called Birju Stall.  This is very popular too and takes the least time to serve.

 Birju stall

The next one is opposite erstwhile Orient cinema (now a commercial building), opposite the Princep Street-Bentinck Street crossing. I’ve been here too and they do a good job.

Since I love my chicken grilled sandwich and none of these roadside stalls but one serves it, my go-to place is a small, modest eatery on GC Avenue called Café Upper Crust (It has the Upper Crust cake shop at the ground floor) and you can find it on the left in a few minutes walk from Bentinck Street to CR Avenue. The cheese chicken grilled sandwich they make is finger-licking good and comes at a pocket-friendly price of Rs 80. It qualifies as a hidden gem of the area for the sandwich, if nothing else.

 Cheese Chicken Grilled Sandwich at Café Upper Crust 

Back to the street and coming to the exceptional one as mentioned in the above paragraph. It’s named Bombay Grilled Sandwich and located opposite Tipu Sultan Mosque at Esplanade, in front of the cloth merchant Akberally’s, serving non-veg sandwiches. The only variety is chicken though, but that’s none short of an exciting discovery on Kolkata streets as I haven’t found a single roadside stall elsewhere serving chicken sandwich.

Idiosyncratically, it is attached to another sandwich stall serving veg sandwiches only, called Sandwich Hut, and they appear to be from the same owner. The chicken sandwich which I had from Bombay Grilled Sandwich recently had a generous serving of succulent tiny pieces of mayonnaise-soaked chicken, with the usual vegetables and it made love with my palate effortlessly. The bread was a shade smaller than regular sandwich bread which is used in other stalls, but who cares when you get that goodness, that too at an incredible Rs 40!

 My grilled chicken sandwich in the making at Bombay Grilled Sandwich


#sandwich #Kolkatasandwich #snacking #Kolkatasnacks#healthysnack #streetfood #hiddengem


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