My recent nostalgia soaked breakfasts in Kolkata. Part 2. Corner shop kochuris and jilipis

L to R: Amitti, kochuri alur jhol, jilip with chef Sushanta at the back
Poddar's, Jayashree Club, Kolkata
The backyard of my childhood: Jayashree Park, Bansdroni bridge'r opar, Kolkata

In my last post I had told you, that the breakfast place that I am going to write about next is one you are unlikely to have heard of before.

It’s no hidden classic or anything. Seemed pretty popular too so I am not going to claim it as a ‘find’. 

Yet, I will be very surprised if you read this blog post and go there to eat for this eatery is located at pretty much the other end of the world, away from tourist tracks or CBDs or even ‘mainland’ Kolkata.

Poddar's, Joyeshree Club
You can take a cycle rickshaw from Bansdroni
or Gachhtola bridge to reach it. Or Uber it

I am talking of a nondescript shack called ‘Poddar’s’ at a paara (suburb) called Jayashree Club or Bansdroni Park. It is 'bridge’r o-paare' or across the Tolly nullah in south Kolkata.

My late maternal grandfather built a house there post his retirement in Delhi. My mom, little brother and I lived there for a year after my father passed away and we were taken in by my maternal grandparents. Then, as advised by my grandfather who felt that we should not grow up feeling obligated to anyone, my mom bought an apartment close by. 

My maternal grandparents, aunts, uncle helped look after my brother and me while my mother went to work at far off Howrah every day where she taught at the Howrah Girl's College. 

My dadu's house was a happy house and at one point everyone in our family stayed there.

Today my grandpa is no more, didu (my grand-mom) lives there largely by herself. A story so typical of families in Kolkata. 

I try to visit her when I can. Not often enough but I have been lucky of late with about 2 visits to Kolkata working out recently and one more coming. If you want something desperately, it happens.

Poddar's, the hole in the wall snack shop

Narayan Mishtanna Bhandar
The more prominent looking sweet shop beside Poddar's.
The roshogolla from here was very nice

I noticed Poddar’s during my recent visits to my grandmother thanks to the sweet shop beside it. The ownership of the two is different though as I found out later. 

I thought I will stop there on my way to Didu’s on the last day of the recent trip. The food that I ended up eating at Poddar's was so brilliant that I thought I must tell you about it.

Poddar’s is a 12 years old place. It is open from 7 am to 10 pm. Serves vegetarian Bengali snackx  – chops, kochuris, jilipi, amittis, Dhakai porothas etc. Nothing is gluten or oil free here, just food full of love.

They don't sell tea. It is not a cha'er dokan.

Poddar's menu

When I reached the shop and asked if the kochuris were fresh, Sushanta who came in from Midnapore to work here, replied ‘myaj maaje’…. Lukewarm.

On my request, “I have come all the way from Bombay,” he agreed to fry me a few fresh koraishootir kochuris (green peas kachori) which are in season in winter.

Tip: Selfie first, eat later.
Ensures that the freshly fried kochuris don't singe you

Luckily, a crowd formed there once Sushanta started frying the kochuris and his food didn’t go waste. 

“Why are the kochuris so hot?” asked one customer petulantly all of a sudden.

“Er, I requested him to fry them fresh,” I said sheepishly to him as Sushanta was busy frying kochuris.

“But this is too hot!!!! Burns my mouth. The temperature should be moderate.” 

Bengalis have been food critics way before the profession was invented.

Kochuri alur dom in the middle

I ate two kochuris, and man, they were so good. Brilliantly tasty and quite filling. And, I must point out, that it didn’t give me many acidity or gas later.  A mark of good quality ingredients.

Trust a Bengali to pick this up. We are an alimentary canal obsessed race after all.

The kochuri was served with options of either a potato curry or a dal on the side. Sushanta recommended that I go for the potato curry. The gravy was piquant, the flavours beautifully balanced. The potatoes perfect, soft but not mushy. It spoke of a very 'bury yourself in granny's sari and hug her' type of love.

Future MasterChef judges
I later tried a bit of the dal, looked at Sushanta and said, “you were right, the potato curry is way tastier.”

Two schoolboys, who were standing and eating beside me, looked up sagely and nodded, “theek, alu ta beshi bhalo (you are right)”.

In Bengal, we take our food seriously and we love our potatoes (no giggling, naughty boys!).

Jilipi to Jalebi. A short story

Have you seen the glorious jilip behind the kochuri?

I finished my breakfast with a jilipi, which is what we call jalebis in Bengali. In Kolkata, jilipis are usually crunchy, though occasionally soft and chubby too.

When I was an eight year old, and a spoilt bilet ferot naati (expat grandson) new to the city, my paternal grandfather used to bring me jalebis on Sundays. 

After my father passed away, my maternal grandparents helped my mother raise us. Jalebis still remained a part of my life. My mom would give us the odd Sunday treat and I would go running to the neighbouring Gouranga Sweet Shop, clutching a few coins to buy jilipis. I would sandwich them in bread and have them for breakfast. These seemed so gourmet in those rough days. 

Later, I left Kolkata and came to Mumbai. I got married and set up home here. In those early days, I would sometimes cross over to Punjab Sweets at Pali Naka and buy a samosa and 50 g jalebis to have as breakfast with coffee on weekends during those early days.

I used to have a dozen jalebis at a go as a chubby kid. Five or six during my lanky teenage years. 2 o3 in my early, post marriage, Mumbai years.

Now that I am in my 40s, I  think is it's best to stick to one or two of these fried sugary treats, even when the jilips are as tasty as it was at Poddar’s.

As kochuri places go, Maharani and Tasty (Ballygunge) would be a lot more famous, and chances are that you are more likely to go there, but what the food at Poddar reminded me is that there is great food to be found in the gulleys of Kolkata if one looks for it.

Partying with granny

Happy birthday Smritaa
My granny's Puja corner, November 2016
The food at Poddar's was so good, that I picked up some kochuris and alur dom from there (6 kochuris and 1 jilipi cost Rs 30 and the alur dom was included) and 4 lovely roshogollas (Rs 10 each, medium size) from Narendra for didu (my granny) and we celebrated my first ‘baby’, my cousin Smritaa’s birthday. I shot and Facebook mailed Smritaa a video message from didu, wishing her happy birthday, for Smritaa to see at NYC, where she studies, when she woke up.

Didu approved of my choice of food. She said that she gets kochuri and mishti for me from Poddar's and Narendra when I visit her and that she feels the roshogolla here is better than that of the famous KC Das.

Well, here’s to creating more sweet memories and great breakfasts.

Please do read:

1. My first breakfast post in this  2 part series
2. An earlier post on the famous kochuris at Maharani
3. Here's a little phone video that I shot at Poddar's and then scroll down for more

Do check out these pictures from Joyeshree Club:

This gentleman ran a roll shop near my house.
I grew up eating his egg rolls after school before going out to play
He has relocated to Joyeshree now. He recognised me  after all these years
and said, "hope you are well, how is your mother.""
I should have asked his name. We used to call him kaku (uncle)

Sacks of muri. When it was not egg rolls
I would have muri and chanachur (farsan) in the evenings

I have developed a taste for Jharna ghee made with cow's milk recently
Bengalis love it and I bought a few bottles (yellow cap) from this shop at Joyeshree

Big Brother (Dada - Ganguly) is watching

Another snack shop beside Poddar's
It is named 'Chokher kheede'...translates into 'visual appeal' I think
Cafe Coffee Day at Bansdroni

This bit is not about Joyeshree but I am super happy to see a new and nice CCD coffee shop opened near Bansdroni 205 bus stop where our house is. It has comfy sofas,  charging points and a (so far) clean loo. I will take K next time she is here.

 In our early post marriage days, we had to go to the CCD vending machine at the Tollygunge metro for her cappuccino and to New Market for her Tropicana (early 2000s). Then there was a CCD at Golf Green and then Bunty. Now its closer home