Kolkata as I know it: Peth Pujo-The Kolkata Food Festival

03:39:00 Sudipti Singh 2 Comments

I have always had a love-hate relationship with Kolkata. Introduced to this huge, buzzing metropolis as a gangly 17 year old, fresh out of home from a comfortable, sheltered, small city, I was immediately intimidated and overwhelmed with the craziness of it all.

                   I was repulsed by the constant cacophony of the milling populance in the streets, the jarring prospects of destitution on the side walks and the sometimes-unbearable, sweltering heat that was too much to bear for someone hailing from the cool Himalayan foothills. Needless to say, I pined for home and drove my mother half insane with the continuous cribbing. It's a good thing my bad-ass mother is not the mollifying, over-indulging kind. She instead told me to grow up and deal with it.

And I did.

"Kolkata is an acquired taste", I have always recounted to anyone who'll listen to me chatter about my new-found love for the city. Well, it is. And it's a taste that grows on you by the minute. Of course, there are still lot of things to dislike about the city as all cities have. But, I found, there are more things to love about it than you'd initially imagine.

Chef Anirban, from Kolkata himself, tries to give us a tour of this confusing city through the epicurian route (Which is, perhaps the best) and take us through the journey through the myriad tastes of this huge small-town.
         He captures not only the traditional, bengali classics but also the fact that Kolkata has forever celebrated its religious and ethnological tolerance. The puchka and tele-bhaja (deep fried snacks) may be a fixture in the food geography of the city but it would still be incomplete without the stir-fried chicken chow-mein or spicy egg roll at the road-side stall. The typical Ramzan and Eid fare is enjoyed by Muslims and Hindus alike. Christmas and Easter means a surge of people of all religious backgrounds thronging to St. Paul's Cathedral and enjoying the bakes of the season.

So, The Cafe at Hyatt Regency celebrates this diversity with 'PETH PUJO- The Kolkata Food Festival'. The expat and anglo-Indian influence of Kolkata finds its representation in Chef Anirban's fest in the GRILLED CHICKEN and SHEPERD PIES. The China Town which is just as much a part of the city is given a spot in table with the BAOs and DIMSUMs which made the traces of Chinese in my heritage, pleased. Not to mention, the mouth-watering traditional bengali food is at the pride of place in the huge spread.

Prioritizing my plan of action, I made a bee-line for the PUCHKA and JHALMURI stall. In the past 3 years of living in Maharashtra, perhaps this is what I have missed the most. The JHALMURI brought back memories of my mother topping up a bowlful of puffed rice, onions. peanuts and savory chanachur with pungent mustard oil. Now mustard oil is something that makes all the difference which (I take the liberty of saying) makes sure Jhalmuri trumps over Bhel.

The PUCHKA is not your average pani-puri. You get no choices of sweet or spicy water as they do here in Maharashtra. You are thrust a bowl made up of dry Sal leaves. The huge pot of carefully spiced, tamarind water given a good stir by the puchka-seller with his hands elbow deep in it. And you leave all the flavor and hygiene choices to him as you surrender to the bursts of flavor while hurrying to keep up with his pace of disbursing the spheres.
Well, you surely get a taste of that experience at the festival but you have to be in Kolkata to know what I am talking about.

There were also thoughtfully placed noodles and rolls stands. I immediately asked for a chicken egg roll, my favorite snack from back home perhaps. I laughed a little at how disconcerted I was with the hygiene and cleanliness which is not a choice on the street of Kolkata. The all too familiar 'Dada' or 'Kaku' rolling out the dough and handling your food with his un-gloved hand is weirdly comforting. But I marveled at how close the roll came to what I remembered.

Kolkata high-tea means political and worldly discussion during the mandatory evening 'adda' with rounds of hot, steaming, sweet tea with occasional puffs on the cigarette and newspaper lined plates full of deep-fried goods. I found some as I wandered through the buffet table. KOROLA BHAJA, good ol' BEGUN BHAJA, AALU BHAJA, all greeted me as I quickly filled up my plate. There were the Mochar chop and Beetroot chop which were duly devoured and only reminded how much I had missed these Bengali snacks.

The mains were over-whelming yet delightful. I had already put a good dent in my appetite with all the snacking but I did make sure to taste a little bit of everything. LUCHI and ALU DOM was every bit the comfort food I crave. GHEE BHAAT with CHANAR DALNA was spot on with the authentic flavors of bengal.

I went on to CHICKEN CHAAP which was one of the best I've had in Pune. I wished I could have eaten more of it but I was fuller than I'd want to. MALAI CHINGRI and DOI MAACH were my choices in fish and they did not disappoint. I, myself, find the task of carefully maneuvering through the countless, tiny fish bones a bit daunting and hence I limit my intake of it as such. But the joy in the faces of my fellow diners reflected the quality of the dish itself. With that I rest my case.

The dessert section was the most awaited one. There were tiny 'bhar's (pots) of delicious MISHTI DOI and ROSHOGOLLAs. The MISHTI DOI was stellar but I found the other sweets a bit drab. I only say this for the sake of reporting and by no means, did that affect my view on the festival that night. There were the usual bakes and desserts to be had but I settled for a bowl of JAGGERY ICE-CREAM which had a really distinct 'Gur' taste that I loved.

Talk about sweet endings.

Well, It really was a rather nostalgic and very appetizing trip down the memory lane for me. I invite you as well to take this adventure yourself and experience Kolkata as I know it, not just as a slice of Bengal but as a mixing pot of all cultures and religions as single, beautiful yet intriguing entity.

A huge shout out to the ever so warm and welcoming, Ankoura of Hyatt Regency for having us over and a round of applause to Chef Anirban for pulling this off.

Peth Pujo- The Kolkata food festival at The Café at Hyatt Regency Pune is on till the 30th of April 2017. The buffet has new dishes introduced everyday and costs Rs. 1050 for lunch and Rs. 1299 for dinner.

The Cafè - Hyatt Regency Pune Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You Might Also Like


  1. Eppitomegroop are the best interior designers in Pune providing total interior solutions for residential and corporate Sector. Virtual Designs Available here.

  2. Eppitomegroop are one of the Best Interior Designer in Pune. They offer Home Interior Design, hotel/restaurant interior design, office interior design in affordable rates.