Calcutta's Phuchkas enter the Paani Puri land of Mumbai... Hangla, Bandra

Today was a historic day for Bengal and Bengalis. The day when Mamata Banerjee, or Didi as she is known, won the Municipal Elections in Kolkata. This was the first defeat for the CPI (M) or the Reds in more than twenty years. For those of us who lived in Calcutta in the 80s and 90s, and left because 'life was stuck in second gear', this seemed as impossible as the fall of the Berlin Wall.






(Photo credit: MSN)

This was also a day when I finally had my first phuchka in Mumbai after more than a decade here. A "Biktori oph the peepool, phor the peepul and bai the peepul" as Didi said.


It all started when Irin put up the news about Hangla, the harbingers of rolls and biriyanis in Mumbai, serving rolls. I wasn't too sure if the Bandra outlet served rolls. Irin called and found out that they did. I was given the job of finding out the truth. Couldn't say no to Irin so I set off with a search party. A fellow Bengali who too has spent time in Calcutta and a Kashmiri Mumbaikar.

We went to Hangla at Bandra. Were told that the phuchka shop was 'Shopper's Stopp'er shaamne' (in front of Shoppers). Couldn't find it. Came back. Mohan, in the red shirt took us. There it was. Right in front of Bandra Shoppers Stop, beside the bus stop and the cigarette shop. Diagonally opposite the Hangla Roll Shop.






We ordered phuchkas and gave our specifications... ' extra kaacha lonka' (green chilly).

The Mumbaikar in our group asked for mitha (sweet) water and was sternly told that 'Phuchkas don't have sweet water'. Nor do they have moong sprouts, boondi, onions and tomatoes. They are not Paani Puris. They are not gol gappas.



There was lust in our eyes as we saw the phuchkas getting made. The first bite was sheer joy. An emotional moments for us two Calcuttans.

For me it was a flashback moment with images of my maid buying my first phuchkas on Dhakuria Bridge, 12 for Rs 1, when I was eight. Having phuchka outside the Presidency Gate after years with the girls in my class. Throwing my mom's reservations away. Hogging on the Lindsay Street Phuchkas during my first trips back to Calcutta with one of my best friends from College who'd returned from the UK. Introducing the newly wed Kainaz to phuchkas at Lindsay Street. Seeing her fall in love with it. Years later two of us popping phuchkas before Dolly's at Dakshinapan. And my mother leaving her phuchka and girlfriend reservations behind sneaking phuchkas with her son and daughter in law.

Then the tasting begun as the sepia settled.








Our verdict: there but not quite there yet. Needed a bit more salt. The tamarind water needed to be a bit more sour. The phuchka shell needs some work on. The oil tasted a bit awry. Probably lacked the honest sweat and snot (sic) of the Bihari and UPite phuchkawallahs of Calcutta. But all said and done, the phuchkas at Hangla brought alive fond memories and showed promise.

As Didi enigmatically said on TV "workaars can be leedaars too".



This is what Arnab had to say on the Finely Chopped Facebook page after sampling phuchkas at Lokhandwala Hanglas this evening.

Arnab Chakraborty nah,hangla'r phuchka jomlo na :/ 5/10
i guess notun shuru korechhey,aaste aaste better hobe. maalik ke kichhu useful tip diye elaam
(Not entirely there yet. 5/10. Guess they are new. I gave them some useful tips)

We followed the phuchkas up with 'choor moor', the dry mix of crushed phuchka shells, masala, potato and tamarind water. Generations of pony tailed school girls in Calcutta have grown up on this.



Oops, who put that photo there ???!!!

And then the police van came and did what the police do world over. They took the phuchka cart away. Something I had seen happen at Istanbul too to the earnest young man who was sending film posters on the streets of Istiklal Cadesi. Anyway the guys at Hangla reassured me that they would get their cart back.



So off we went to CBTL to celebrate the discovery of the Penultimate Phuchka with Ulitmate Mocha.



Note: This is not a blog about politics. The observations on Mamata Banerjee were light hearted so please don't become too Bengali and get into a debate about her and her politics. Instead let's celebrate the entry of phuchkas into Mumbai.

For the factually inclined, a plate of phuchkas with 6 phuchkas is Rs 20  (0.5) USD. Ditto for choor moor. The stall opens post 5 PM

To see the interest aroused by phuchkas amongst Bongs, look at the responses on Irin's page. 43 and counting!!!



Irin Chatterjee

Irin Chatterjee Hanglas is now selling authentic kolkata fuchka. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!

Yesterday at 10:38 · ·
Sasha Dg
Sasha Dg
yeah yeah...rub it in - with extra kancha lonka ar ektu lebu mere! :o(
Yesterday at 10:44
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
u mean with that alu makha & tetul jol??
Yesterday at 10:44
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
chums: hehehe...had been waiting for this eveer since i moved to b'by.

Pratyush: yes, it should be so.though i'm yet to try it out.
Yesterday at 10:47
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
@everyone: authentic alu makha, kabli chana and tetul jol...and lokta jigyes kore kancha lonka debena na guro lonka... :)
Yesterday at 10:49
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
Bubun, a treat for you i promise for this wonderful piece of news.Thanks so much.
Yesterday at 10:52
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
@ginidi: Hanglas next quarter revenues will catapult :)
Yesterday at 10:56
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
bubun - to add to the authencity, r they also having that lal chador-e mora jhuri. and what abt kolkatar alur dom? r they having that also? i can visualise kol phuchka taking over mum pani puris - bangali jago:)
Yesterday at 10:57
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
@pratyush da: hya lal chadore mora jhuri ache...sob steel er bashon...shaal patar thonga...sob i same minus the dirt...alur dom nei...but that's probably because ora alada kore luchi, kachuri, alur dom bikri kore bole...
Yesterday at 11:01
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
bubun - excellent info- i cant wait to have it - but i guess the bong market in mum is large enough to support both the demands:) hangla's revenue will skyrocket - will come out with an IPO - u will cover the news e2e:)
Yesterday at 11:05
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
may be they will come out with alur dom during the pujo - keeping fingers crossed..
Yesterday at 11:06
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
@pratyush da: tumi ki mumbai te? pujar somoy powai er puja ta te jeo...last year bijoli grill er stall chilo...fatafati fish orli chilo...
Yesterday at 11:09
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
ekhon mumbai te nei - arektu dure - yes last year visited their powai stall almost daily - fish orlita shotti opurbo chilo - ora bolechilo they r planning to open one shop at powai very recently - but that did not happen at least till mid-april..
Yesterday at 11:13
Sasha Dg
Sasha Dg
Ei je - hangla-r dol, kaj koro...shokal shokal phhuchka, fish orli, churmur, aloo kabli...eshob hochhey ta ki!!?? :ox
Yesterday at 11:14
Ratoola Kundu
Ratoola Kundu
yaaaah!!!:)
Yesterday at 11:15
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
saswati - we live to eat not eat to live:) phuchka-r news-ta was a welcome break from the grinding work schedule - tai ektu uttejito hoye gechilam:)
Yesterday at 11:16
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
didmoni-ra boka jhoka korlen bole this healthy discussion came to a screaching halt - khub dukkho pelam:)
Yesterday at 11:44
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
@everyone: na na chaliye jao...khawa daoyar bepare alochona always welcome....
@sasha n ginidi: amar ek bondhu amake daitto niye notun notun exotic ranna sekhachche...dabba gosht was the first one...oshadharon khete...tomader jonne recipe gulo post korbo bhabchi...next in line is nihari...
Yesterday at 11:49
Kalyan Karmakar
Yesterday at 11:56 ·
Sasha Dg
Sasha Dg
Ar ki....dukkho katatey bikel-e phhuchka kheye esho. :o)
Yesterday at 11:57
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
Pritha Mitra Dasgupta
@kalyan: bandra outlet ta te ache kina janina...lokhandwala outlet e ache...
Yesterday at 11:57
Dhritiman Mitra
Dhritiman Mitra
kothai eta?
Yesterday at 12:13
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
Dhriti : It's at Hanglas. the chain that has showered the Maratha land with the blessings of Kolkata biriyani, roll and now fuchka.
Yesterday at 12:16
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
Bubun, i hope it's available at Bandra..

Kalyan, how do you think we can find out whether it's available at the bandra outlet? they don't have any contact number? or do they? can you use your contacts to get this info pleaaseeeee.
Yesterday at 12:20
Kalyan Karmakar
Kalyan Karmakar
I assumed you ate it somewhere... this is the no for Hanglas 9221285106...never used it before...will drop in and check..or mail them
Yesterday at 12:27 ·
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
theres one at malad west as well - just in case u guys are passing by..
Yesterday at 12:34
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
No, Kalyan haven't as yet. was trilled to get the news this morning. tried the no. but it's switched off :-((
Yesterday at 12:36
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
bubun - just bcoz u had a recent knowledge transfer for dabba gosht - try the one at BAGHDADI at colaba to increase ur benchmark - its simply awesome - thx to Rahul, he gave me the address..
Yesterday at 12:41
Kalyan Karmakar
Kalyan Karmakar
I believe Andheri has it
Yesterday at 12:51 ·
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
Oh, no. not the bandra one? sigh....now i've to do some cajoling tricks to you know who;-)
Yesterday at 12:52
Kalyan Karmakar
Kalyan Karmakar
My formula - allu peeske, mirchi dalo, bina kanda or boondi ot tomato... sirf khatta paani :)
Yesterday at 12:58 ·
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
khatta paani mein gondho raaj lebu;-)
Yesterday at 13:25
Kalyan Karmakar
Kalyan Karmakar
and honest sweat
Yesterday at 13:43 ·
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
and naak jharar!!! na na chi chi - eshob public forum-e noe:)
Yesterday at 13:56
Dhritiman Mitra
Dhritiman Mitra
haan sobi tho bujhlam dokan ta kothai? got a v nice bong joint at versova cld calcutta club.
22 hours ago
Pratyush Sengupta
Pratyush Sengupta
kolkata style biryani fantastic at calcutta club - real value for money considering the quantity they serve - but other stuffs pretty expensive but tasty..
16 hours ago
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
Dhriti, Hangla has outlets in Bandra, Andheri and Malad.Have been to Calcutta Club in oshiwada. it's ok. nothing great. i mean if it's biriyani that we are talking abt, Hangla is any day far better than CC. the sweets are nice there though.
13 hours ago
DaVinci Code
DaVinci Code
You and Hangla... inseparable. If I recollect well... Hangla has appeared the 225th time in your stat msgs :-P
Now its with fuchka! Kothai eyi Hangla bhodrolok?
11 hours ago
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
hehehe amrita, let me have the pleasure of taking you there:-) bandra is the closest. they have outlets in andheri and malad too.chol, this friday, what say?
11 hours ago
Kalyan Karmakar
Kalyan Karmakar
I crossed by Hangla Bandra while driving down to mainland. Didn't spot any sign of phuchka. Someone said Lokhandwala has it.
I like Calcutta Club. The food is more like home food...luchi, chholar daal, kosha mangsho, bhetki patoori, khir patishapta, mochar ghonto recommended
11 hours ago ·
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
K, finally got through the bandra outlet. Yes they are selling fuchkas.Time: 5.30 onwards in the evening. happiness finally :-)
11 hours ago
Kalyan Karmakar
Kalyan Karmakar
aajke aashbe?
10 hours ago ·
Irin Chatterjee
Irin Chatterjee
aaj hobey na. something else lined up. But sometime this weekend for sure.
10 hours ago
Kalyan Karmakar
10 hours ago ·

15