It took me almost a year to make this list and finally it is here. Soon after coming to Kolkata, I came to know about the amazing taste of phuchkas here. So, I started browsing through the list of best phuchkas in Kolkata and to my surprise there were many. Few phuchka stalls were so popular and famous that they figured in almost all the lists but in each of those few lesser known stalls also appeared. I made a list of 100 phuchka stalls located all over the city and started visiting one-by-one. Some were so delicious that I eventually ended up there more than once. The following list is the outcome of the year long research – I am not making a ranking since almost all these left equally pleasant feelings in me.
Let me first introduce Phuchka to my non-Bengali readers. Phuchka is also popularly called Golgappa and Pani Puri in other parts of India. Apart from these two, phuchka also has as many as 9 more colloquial names which are said in different regions. I have seen phuchka in various forms in almost all parts of India. It is a crispy fried ball made of flour and filled with the soft filling of mashed potato mixed with various spices, herbs, and flavors. When it is served, the ball and is filled with flavored tamarind or sweet water which creates an extraordinary feeling. You can understand, the hard crispy ball, it’s soft filling, and the water creates a never before sensation. Sweet, sour, hot – all tastes are mixed in this in just the right proportion. Phuchka, Gol Gappa, Pani Puri – whatever you call it- is surely the most popular evening snack in the country.
Krishnakant Sharma’s phuchka stall in front of Vardaan Market serves one of the most delicious phuchkas in the city. The best part of his phuchkas is certainly the aroma created by methi, saunf, Kasuri, ajwain, and jeera – all homemade by Sharma himself. His pudina flavored tamarind water will bring you back again and again.
Dilip da’s phuchka has a legacy of serving Laxmi Mittal’s guests in one of his parties. Dilipda serves some of the most mouth watering phuchkas in the city. His normal phuchka, churmur and most importantly dahi phuchka are sure to leave a long lasting impression on your taste buds. Hygiene conscious Dilip da uses purified water for his phuchkas and also offer hand sanitizers for his customers to wash hands before jumping into his ocean of exotic taste.
Upinder’s phuchkas has a special twist for his special customers. In the locality, there are many Jains who do not have mashed potato and he uses mashed green banana instead. He too uses mineral water for making the tamarind water that is also flavored with pudina.
Nankuram Gupta’s shop near Russel Street is a treasure trove of phuchka eating. Guptaji smartly adds different masalas – Pudina, Methi, Hing into his filling- and let you get confused. He does not disclose the masalas since they are all made in his home back in Uttar Pradesh.
Bijay Prakash’s phuchka stall is almost half a century old and was previously run by his father. His unique selling point is certainly the size of his phuchkas which are certainly much larger than any other in the city. Not only the sizes but the filling inside made of a variety of masalas mixed with smashed potato makes it a must try for all.
B.K. Paul Avenue:
The phuchka stall located at the junction of B.K. Paul Avenue and Rabindra Sarani comes with a lip-smacking filling of ‘ghughni’ or boiled peas. While the smashed potato soaked with tamarind water simply melts in the mouth, the peas stay to create a long lasting feeling.
New Market/ Dharmatala:
Here, no particular shop should be mentioned and all are worth a try- especially the ones located around the Citimart building. All phuchka stalls in this area serve tremendously tasty phuchka though my favorite is their ‘Churmur‘. The broken phuchkas mixed with tamarind water, smashed potato, boiled peas and most importantly ‘smashed Vada‘ makes it a perfect combination in terms of taste and flavor.
Rajendra Da’s phuchka stall just in front of the Dakshinapan Shopping Complex near Dhakuria can be identified by its crowd. The certificates received from various food guides and pictures with famous personalities, hung on the lamp post will also draw your attention. His specialty is an exotic mix of sweet and sour sauces. Almost all his customers ask for the mixed sauce. The Dahi Phuchka or Curd Phuchka should never be given a miss.
In front of P.C. Chandra Jewellers shop at Ultadanga, the phuchka shop is generally covered by the customers but the smell of masalas and fresh tamarind water will make you recognize it easily. You might have to wait a while to get your turn but the woo of waiting will vanish the moment the first phuchka enters your mouth. It is the perfect balance of crispiness and softness that will make a heavenly pleasure fill your mind and soul.
There are two shops here and they stand on either side of the Damro Shop just beside the Metropolis Mall. They are economical and extremely tasty. While most of the above phuchka stalls sell 3 pieces for Rs 10 and some sell 4 pieces for Rs 10, here you will get six. Trust me, this difference in cost does not make any difference in taste. These are equally tasty phuchkas except the fact that they do not have much variety and sell only normal or ordinary phuchka filled with potato and spices.
I could not exclude Pravesh’s Phuchka stall, located in front of Woodland High Apartments at Alipore, from my list – and one most important reason for that is his variety. He sells as many as 17 types of phuchkas – and his list includes one very special name – Schezwan Phuchka. He has managed to include even Chinese flavors in his phuchka. He uses mineral water for making the tamarind water and for his concern for hygiene has traveled to many countries serving his delicacy.