When you live in cold, wet Oregon some thousands of miles away from your boyf, you regularly experience what I called “foodpangs” or busts of painful craving for a dish you have enjoyed with someone you love. This list started off as a random conversation with Aninda on a night my taste-buds were aching for some Calcutta-style Chili Chicken. I ended up making a dish that my father often makes and talking to Aninda about chicken dishes we had enjoyed on our weekend eating sprees since December 2014 when we started dating. It was an interesting list-making that drew very different reactions from both of us; while Aninda was oohh-ing and aaah-ing and planning the next trip to the eateries, I was sinking deeper into a chasm of helpless hunger and making loud slurping sounds in the air. It was weird, alright, but my roommates were out that night and I ultimately ended up making some extra-spiced Chana Masala. So here you go, in no particular order:
1. Chicken Shapta at The Blue Poppy, Middleton St.
Blue poppy shines when you join them in embracing their fiery ambitions. It is somewhat ironic that a dish tracing its roots to the snowy landscapes of Tibet can be this lip-smackingly hot. Thin slices of chicken fried till golden are generously paired with shredded chilli peppers and onions, and presented in a light sauce that is the perfect balance of sour, sweet, and umami. No turmeric means the dish has a rather pale colour but what it lacks in looks, it makes up in taste by unfurling fireworks as you place a spoonful in your mouth. Pair it with their burnt garlic fried rice. Fair warning though, not for the fainthearted!
Chicken Shyapta #eater #ndtvfood #instafood #instahappy#huffposttaste #hautecuisine #foodphotography#foodie #foodoftheday #food52 #feedfeed #lifeisfood #kolkatafoodie #foodislife #foodtalkindia #foodforthesoul#foodgram #foodstagram #foodgasm #cnnfood#foodporn #buzzfeedfood #livetoeat #bonappetit #foodart
2. Special Chili Chicken at Broadway, Chadni
The dish I was craving and the reason why this post happened is the tongue-tingling Special Chili Chicken at Broadway. Romanticism is a word that I have not been able to associate with a lot of eateries lately. But basking in the sunlight that comes in on lazy winter afternoons through the glass windows of Broadway is nothing short of rediscovering a long lost love. While Chili Chicken, the Indo-Chinese fusion dish, has lost its appeal as the reigning side dish to be ordered every time we dine out, we can assure you that Broadway’s special Chili Chicken is something different altogether. It is more Indianised, packs in a lot more flavour and steers clear of involving that hit or miss glue-like cornstarch gravy. A thick patina of minced onions, garlic, and chopped green chillies cling to the tender pieces of meat. The sauce, a brilliant brownish red, is tangy and searing hot. Best way to have this koshano brilliance? Pair it with plain rice if you are a teetotaler. If not, introduce this dish to your favourite peg of scotch.
Special Chilli Chicken #eater #ndtvfood #instafood #instahappy#huffposttaste #hautecuisine #foodphotography#foodie #foodoftheday #food52 #feedfeed #lifeisfood #kolkatafoodie #foodislife #foodtalkindia #foodforthesoul#foodgram #foodstagram #foodgasm #cnnfood#foodporn #buzzfeedfood #livetoeat #bonappetit #foodart #sokolkata
3. Chicken Lat Mai Kai at Food Station, College St.
A surprise entry is the Lat Mai Kai from the menu of College Street’s Food Station. Lat Me Kai is one of those dishes that was once popularized by a certain eatery but now every other place has put its own spin and variation on it. Food Station does a fine job of making a superlative Lat Mai Kai with strips of perfectly seasoned, deep-fried chicken coated with a tangy red sauce of garlic, peppers, and shallots. The dish is doused liberally with green chillies, dried chillies, and hot sauce. Bite into a strip of crispy, juicy chicken and let the tongue tingling flavours erupt in your mouth.
4. Chicken Takrai at Asia in a Box, Chinar Park
The Chicken Takrai we tasted from the now-defunct menu of the Asia in a Box near City Centre II was a dish that will forever linger on our tongues. The lightly fried chicken pieces were coated in a sticky sauce infused with lemongrass, galangal, soy sauce, and liberally spiced with garlic and Thai chillies. The dish also exhibited one of the best uses of kaffir lime leaves we have tasted! Just the fragrance…it was heavenly. Meant to be more of a finger food, we ate it with burnt garlic noodles. It’s off their menu now which goes on to show how some things are truly ephemeral! Also, a lesson in food philosophy. Eat it now! The dish or you or I may not be here tomorrow.
5. Chicken Bharta at Chitto Da’r Suruchi, Dacres Lane
Everything on the menu at Chitto Da’s Suruchee is part of office para’s staple diet. One of the best thing to come out from one of the city’s true foodstreet, this Dacres Lane favourite has the soul of Punjab ingrained in the DNA of the dish. A thick creamy buttery gravy that houses a hearty bunch of shredded chicken is the perfect partner in crime when your heart is set on committing a dietary sin. A halved boiled egg, yolk side up, and a drizzle of sour cream for garnish completes the dish. Best paired with the Bengali haat-ruti, this is one of those dishes that you need to use your hands to get the most out of.
6. Dajaj Chermoula at SpiceKraft, Hazra
Spice Kraft’s signature starter is also one of the most delicious kebabs we have had in the city. Chermoula, a Moroccan marinade dried parsley, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper, is used to give a succulent spin to the grilled chicken legs. The leg pieces arrive in small pottery urns with a tangy condiment on the side. The char-grilled meat is juicy and melt-in-the-mouth and every bite leaves in your mouth a spicy and smokey echo.
Dajaj Chermoula #eater #ndtvfood #instafood #instahappy#huffposttaste #hautecuisine #foodphotography#foodie #foodoftheday #food52 #feedfeed #lifeisfood #kolkatafoodie #foodislife #foodtalkindia #foodforthesoul#foodgram #foodstagram #foodgasm #cnnfood#foodporn #buzzfeedfood #livetoeat #bonappetit #foodart
7. Chicken Kosha at New Paul’s Dhaba, Maniktola
People who like to eat (food, not ambience) tend to agree that dhabas are the next best thing to paradise. New Paul’s Dhaba might not be a true highway side dhaba, but the rogroge kosha murgi they serve is no doubt of the same breed. This dish is spicy, rich, hot, and absolutely, decidedly delicious. Have no doubt about it, this is one of the most Bengali dishes on this list! Tear a piece of tandoori roti, wrap it around a portion of chicken that you will pull off the bone, dip it in the gravy, and roll it into the mouth. The fiery embrace that greets you can be heightened manyfold if you take a bite of pickled kancha peyanj alongside it. Best friends to go along with this dish? A chilled glass of thick frothy lassi!
8. Fried Chicken at Bapi Da’r Stall, Karunamoyee
The best appropriation for Bapi Da’s chicken delicacies was the one that I overheard standing in front of the shop and haggling for a plate of momos. A young guy, clearly emotional, announced to his girlfriend “30 takaye sudhu chicken, chicken chara ar kicchu nei, ar ki chai tor?” The chicken wings, winglets, or pakoras, whatever you decide to try out, cost the bare minimum and delivers on both quality and quantity. It is hot off the oil, perfectly seasoned, crispy, and tender. What you see here, is what you get, an honest service not marred by add-ons. What to have it with? The spicy not-so tomato ketchup that Bapi Da provides.
9. Chicken a la Kiev at OlyPub, Park St.
There are dishes and then there are identities. Things that make you proud of the culture and heritage of your city. The a la Kiev from OlyPub has always been a crowd and personal favourite. Wrapped up in a conical cutlet textured covering, the magic begins when you start to cut it open. Warm yellow molten butter oozes out revealing the chicken stuffing inside. A masterfully crafted dish that always makes me feel divine as I dig into the buttery volcano of chicken. All of that is placed upon minimally salted mashed potato, waiting to be soaked in the split butter. This is one for the ages! What do you pair this with? A large peg of Old Monk, strictly on the rocks.
10. Grilled Chicken Salad at Crossroad Cafe, Prince Anwar Shah Road
Light and healthy, the Roast Lemon Chicken Salad is by far the best salad we have had in the city. The smokiness of roast chicken slices played alongside the sweetness of dried amber apricots, carrot sticks, sundried tomatoes, and the sharp tang of lemon doused cucumber crescents. Add to it bits of crunchy green and red leaf lettuce and pickled purple cabbage threads and you have an explosion of flavours, textures and colours in your mouth!
We actively try to avoid restaurant chains like KFC, Pizza Hut, Chili’s, etc. and eat at local establishments instead. Besides, they are cheaper. Contributing to the local economy makes us feel better about our choices. Calcutta is a city of seasoned travellers, food lovers and migrants who add to the cultural diversity and there is no dearth of choices when it comes to food. The city has, arguably, some of the cheapest and most delicious street food in India. Even in the 21st century you can just carry a few dollars in your wallet & get a hearty full course meal in the nooks and corners of this city. That remains a testament to the heart and soul of this crumbling city of lovers, a city where the tummy finds bliss & our home loves us back.
Share your favourite chicken dishes with us in the comments below!