If you haven’t read my first post on Ramzan in and around central Kolkata’s Zakaria Street you can do so here http://eatsiprepeat.com/ramzaninkolkata1/. Once you have had your fill of kebabs, fried fish and fried chicken I would suggest that you get down to the very important business of devouring haleem at the soonest.
Haleem is basically a meat stew where the meat of cow or goat is slow cooked with spices, lentils and grains like wheat or barley or rice or a combination of grains. The texture of the haleem available in Kolkata is like that of thick lentil broth with chunks of meat found here and there. As far as haleem in Zakaria Street is concerned you have plenty of options to choose from. Once you head back towards Zakaria Street from Adam’s in Phears Lane you are likely to first come across Islamia Hotel. In my humble opinion the best haleem in this area is undoubtedly found here with the right balance fragrance and spice. Another place that serves excellent haleem is the Zakaria Street branch of Aminia. Here you can also find haleem cooked with offal like cow’s tongue and brain along with meat.
If that is not your ‘bowl of haleem’ head to Sufia, another crowd puller situated bang opposite the Nakhoda Masjid, where you can find another delectable bowl of haleem. There are also relatively smaller players situated opposite each other one called Bombay Hotel and the other Zeeshan. I have found their output to be quite inconsistent, really delicious on one day and over or under seasoned the next day. However, the phirni (rice pudding) at Bombay Hotel is a well kept secret. All of these places also have their own biryanis but since that is something which is available all round the year I prefer to skip that during Ramzan.
As I mentioned in my previous post all over Zakaria Street you can find vendors selling different kinds of breads, sewai (vermicelli), dates, fresh fruits and dried fruits. My favourite vendor is the one who sets up a stall each year opposite Taskeen. His breads are always soft to the touch and fresh. Pick up the layered bread known as bakarkhani or the sheermal with cherries, nuts and seeds sprinkles atop that has a texture akin to regular white bread. Neither of the eateries will stop you if you walk in with your own bread to dip into your bowl of haleem.
Once you’re done with haleem and bakarkhani you will be spoiled for choice as far desserts are concerned. There are many Shahi Tukda sellers all over Zakaria Street and having tried many of them I wouldn’t recommend any of them. Head over to Haji Alauddin in Phears Lane for a wide variety of halwas, jalebis and gulab jamuns.
You can also opt to pop in to Taskeen again for a glassful of lassi falooda which is essentially a cool mixture of thickened milk flavoured with saffron, yogurt, nuts, vermicelli and sugar.
Before you head home don’t forget to take back some deep roasted or light roasted lacha also known as sewai which are nothing but thin strands of semolina noodles which are usually cooked with sugar and milk and enjoyed as a dessert.
Despite the heat and the maddening crowd you will go back home a satisfied soul with a bittersweet experience because the feasting for the day has come to and end but in probabilities you’ll be back to indulge another day, if not then definitely the next Ramzan.