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  Mobile food stalls   More Articles
 

Kolkata may have its sophisticated restaurants and food plazas but many of the Calcasians (people who are hooked by Kolkata, residing or not residing there) are still devoted to her mobile food stalls. They might be shabby looking and often are complained to be unhygienic. Especially the mobile stalls that gathered around the gate of schools during

 

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Tiffin time or when the school gets over. Many of us remained so hooked to them that not even our guardians but some times we ourselves had a suspicion that whether these things are drugged or not. On this list supreme importance can be claimed by "fuchka". Small puffed crisp wheat balls stuffed with a mixture of boiled potato, boiled gram and roasted spices and filled with sour water of tamarind. Fuchka has its origin in Venaras, where pudina and roasted red chili powder is a special addition. One can find the same thing with a difference in the stuffing in Panipuri of Mumbai, Golgappa

 
 

of Delhi and Gupchup of Jharkhand. Fuchka can also be found in five star restaurants of Kolkata but those are a compromise in flavour for sophistication.One can find other varieties of fhuchka like "Dahi-fhuchka"

 
 

or "Alu fhuchka" with yogurt or "alur dom" inside served in Sal leaf bowl or the leaf itself shaped in a cone. Even after that the taste from one fhuckawala fhuchka vendor to other varies for the mixture in spices and obviously the mixing. With fhuchka comes "churmur". It is a mixture of potato slices, gram and crushed phuchkas with spices and tamarind water sometimes with a pinch of coriander or lime over it. Another item can be found from these people are "alukabli". It has the same ingredients that of churmur with an addition of raw onion (sometimes) less the crushes fhuchkas. Most tasty you will find these items when licking the residue in the Sal leaf.

 
 

Next in the queue comes "telebhaja" (fried in oil).Though every fried item is obviously fried in oil no one knew why only these variety is called so. Here the ingredients are sliced into thin pieces or boiled and smashed and then put into a batter of chickpea flour and then deep-

 
 

fried in mustard oil. The spices used in the batter or during marinating vegetables is a secret. The most popular ones are "alur chop" (chop of potato)," beguni" (brinjal fry), "piyaji" (chop of onion), "fhuluri" (chop of chickpea flour) and" dal bora"(chop of pulses like tuoor). There are other varieties of telebhaja most of which are now more or less extinct due to rise in price of the ingredients. Some familiar ones are "Mochar chop" (banana flour chop), "dhoka" (pasted pulses), "fhulkopir bora" (cauliflour chop), "dolma" (stuffed vegetables), and "chingrir cutlet" (prawn cutlet). "Kalika" of central Kolkata still serves many of these items still now. 

 
 

No one can forget "jhalmuri" or "masalamuri" vendors of Kolkata. Carrying a tin box with a multiple of partition and numerable raw materials stuffed in them they travel from one part to another. The perfect blending of spices and nuts and sometimes some kind of indigenous sauces to marinate the puffed rice is an art itself.  Generally the softened varieties are Maharastrian in origin with sauces and potato or cucumber slices and the ones with more crunchy items and are termed velpuries or batata puries. The Bengali variety does not contain any moistening agent. It is a pure blending of puffed rice, nuts, mustard oil, coconut and uncrushed spices except, sometimes with onion and green chili. Mainly the mentioned variety of puffed rice are found in the Bihari bhujua shops, who prepare muri on sand stirring it occasionally with the other side of the fresh broomstick. The rice is puffed not using urea.

 

Other things available there are soaked and boiled gram, thatched rice, popped rice and a numerous variety of gram, peas and other lentils, and groundnut roasted or fried and even spiced besides the pickles. Besides there were some Bengali shops where along with it chops are also prepared.  

 
 

Other important persons are the "Ghugniwala". Ghugni is a preparation of gram or pea seeds cooked in spices. It can be both vegetarian and nonvegetarian in its preparation. Here too the crowd gathers for the tastier variety that depends on the blending of spices and the way of cooking. There is not one formula for its preparation and here lies the secret of taste. 
Among sweet delicacies most prominent item is the "malai borof" or "kulphi". The item was found still on the roadside vendors in earthen pot inside which the moulds are kept, a substitution of freezer. Many of these persons also sell flavoured coloured water. 

 
 

On hot and humid days sharbat or cold drinks of pudina (mint) and akh (sugarcane) are sold. Vendors selling these nectars in earthen pots called "bhar" or in glasses can be found even today.
Besides there are the indigenous smaller versions of cotton candy or candy floss known popularly as Burir chul (the hair of old lady).

 
 

Still popular among the school goers are the pickle vendors whose pickles are different from the Bengali varieties that are sun dried in oil and spices. Dried spicy plum, plum pickle, dried spicy green mango, or spiced tamarind pickles when served with a blending of different salts, specially a black salt called "kalonun" or sometimes "current" (as when touched on the tip of the tongue it delivers a shock like tremor on the sense

 
 

organs) gives a pleasure to the senses. Raw mango, or amra, or kamranga are served here with their specific salt and spices blend with tamarind juice in their respective season. Sometimes amsatta of a black and too sour variety is also found. If you want you can also get a blending of their salt and spices. The black salt is often sold separately in small bottles. 
Other common stalls are of roasted groundnuts. Roasted or boiled salted gram and peas are also available in these stalls. Sprout gram and peas mixed with boiled potato, sliced tomato sprinkled with lemon juice and beet salt are also found in street corners of Kolkata.

The other mobile vendor is the "chanachurwala". Sometimes called ghotigaram as the chanachur is roasted with chopped onion and raw mango or amra and sprinkle of blended salts in a ghoti (a specific shaped pot). Due to invasion of sophisticated variety of hamburger or pizza shops or cake shops along with more indigenous variety of roll centers and chat centers of greater India these stalls are facing a threat. Many are leaving their traditional business due to price rise in ingredients and change in taste of the customers. They are shifting to comparatively profitable business. Others are compromising in quality and quantity and further loosing customers. Many of the mentioned items are rare in today's Kolkata and some are an extinct species.
But lets hope out tongue can patronize the existing ones and even help the extinct ones to reincarnate in near future. So stay mobile, say mobile.

 
     
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