Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shopping in Kolkatta

For my first official post of the New Year (yes I know it’s very late!) I want to share one of my favourite experiences from Kolkatta. Though I was born there, I don’t have much of an attachment to the city and try my best to limit my visits there as the weather doesn’t agree with me at all! However, there is one thing that Kolkatta is renowned for- and that is cheap and delicious food, and while its fantastic to savour all the gastronomic delights (phuchka and egg rolls anyone?), I find it even more fun to shop at the local markets there. 

Fish that is so fresh it still wriggles around in the metal tank like trays... tiger prawns so big I mistook them for lobsters at first, and my absolute favourite- hilsa. Pronounced ilish in Bengali, this fish is very hard to come by, quite expensive and full of teeny tiny bones that you have to expertly remove or suffer. This sea fish that lays its eggs in large rivers is usually caught in the Padma river and imported from Bangladesh. It tastes best when cooked in a light mustard sauce.

Even the vegetables in Kolkatta are more vibrant and I always discover something new during my jaunts to buy special produce that you don’t get in Bangalore- large lemons that have the most delicious fragrance, kind of like keffir limes, or jaggery made of palm sugar. This time I came across fat chillies that were dark purple and looked quite similar to aubergines.

Another favourite are these tiny shops that sell all sorts of candy like condiments,- I visited one in Lake Market. They also sold puffed rice balls coated with jaggery and other sweet assortments. These stores are tiny and hard to navigate but so much fun.
Well, for me anyway!