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China Town : Made in Kolkata

Porni Banerjee

Kolkata offers some of its lesser known yet interesting places to both its locals and tourists to visit that could bowl them over with the uniqueness in myriad foods.

One such locality – Tiretta bazaar – is a slice of China in a mega city like Kolkata. It is called the China Town colloquially.

Not only the scrumptious Chinese delicacies, but a walk down the busy streets in and around the place for photography could even brighten up your day.

Poh Aunti selling Baos and suimai

Located in Central Kolkata, Tiretta bazaar is an old settlement for a small Chinese population existing for more than a century now and has been bringing a variety of authentic Chinese dishes into prominence since then.

Visiting early in the morning at around 5:30 or 6 is the most suitable time so as to get a variety of food options there. However, Sunday is the best day to visit as one gets even more options.

Chicken momos, fish sui mai, pork momos (dumplings) – both steamed and fried – prawn wafers, pork and chicken baos, and chinese sausages are some of the delicacies every food lover can savour. You can certainly pamper your taste buds with every bite.

You can also indulge on some other homemade options including soup noodles, fish ball, and meatball soup, a fresh plate of hot dumplings, wontons or soup and rice pudding that is partly sweet in its taste. The taste of such succulent foods would leave you crave for more.

Not only do these dishes dominate in its taste, they offer you with some interesting looks as well.

 

Boby Selling fish/ meat ball soup
Another interesting snack worth mentioning is the prawn papad that is sold at a nominal price.

Tiretta bazaar satisfies vegetarians as well with a plate full of tasty Aloo kachoris that are served hot and fresh and is fairly in demand too. However, it is suggested that you get the taste of all in a moderate quantity.

There is another China Town located at Topsia in Kolkata that attracts many throughout the year. However, it’s fascinating history somewhat remains lesser known.

The first recorded Chinese settler in India is Tong Achew, a trader who landed near Budge Budge in the late 18th century.

Achew set up a sugar cane plantation along with a sugar factory. Achew brought in a band of Chinese workers to work in his plantation and factory. This was the first Chinese settlement in India.

Achew died shortly after and the Chinese settlers moved to Calcutta. The place came to be named as Achipur, after Tong Achew. Achew’s grave and a Chinese temple is still seen in Achipur.

Tong Achew’s grave in Achipur

However, unfortunate, he could not run his business well. Eventually, his workers settled themselves near Tiretta Bazaar with the primary business as tannery.

But misfortune struck them again. The British government did not like the fact that there would be a hub of tanneries in the heart of the city.

Hence, it was shifted to the suburbs and the second China Town was thus established which is now called Tangra or rather Topsia.

The Chinese who came to Kolkata were mainly from coastal China, then ravaged by civil wars; many landed in between the two world wars too. All had different skills and traditions, which they innovated, in order to survive.

The Hubeis, who were “teeth-setters”, became dentists. The Cantonese were ship-fitters; by the ’50s they had moved into carpentry. The Hakkas were talented shoe-smiths and leather manufacturers. All of them came to India to work. None of them came here to cook.

Over the years and became famous for Chinese people started sharing cantonese cuisine promising to serve delectable Chinese dishes.

It has been winning over innumerable hearts of both locals and tourists since then.

At the entrance of Tangra, there is a Kali temple where, interestingly, the Goddess is offered chowmein, and other chinese food stuffs as prasad.

Let the pandemic get over, then Terretti bazaar and Tangra should be your next destinations in Kolkata.
Let loose your temptations and make your bellies happy. Discover the happenings around you and return home with plenty of smiles.
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