There is a lot of mysticism, amusement, romanticism all wrapped around my city of joy, that many non-Kolkatans also realize, sense and admire. This city is no doubt very busy yet it has a heart that is dipped in loads of art, music, food, football and some laid-back adda! My Kolkata never bores me, it has folds of surprises in store and some thousand caskets of unexplained mysticism and ‘bhalo laga’ hidden in its heart that will keep me enthralled for a lifetime! As already mentioned, food has been an integral part of our lives, and being a Bengali (I would rather not call myself a ‘Bong’) I rather take immense pride to put forward stories of my food exploration which many can read and know more about our food habits and lifestyle.
This has been a city which has always accepted cuisines from all around the world; it has been a melting pot of global cuisines and food lovers! I am sure you must have tasted authentic Russian, American, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Nepali, Lebanese cuisines in this city, but have you been to a place that only serves authentic Afghan food? Yes, there is a small piece of Afghanistan hidden in this city of joy and it’s as rustic and as real as it can get. The place is near the Park Circus 7-point crossing and it’s called ‘Kabul Kolkata’. Except for some food experts and ardent food lovers (and of course the Afghans) in the city, very few people actually know about the existence of this place and how good or authentic it is. So, here goes my experience at Kabul Kolkata and my tryst with Afghan food!
First of all, this place is actually run by Afghans, yes you read that right. And the food is more than authentic! I must say the city is blessed to have such an authentic Afghan food joint which sadly many are not aware of. The place is absolutely devoid of any glitz or glamour and it’s in fact very humble with a rather shabby entrance. I am mentioning all these because you shouldn’t refrain yourself to get in there just by seeing the entrance or the décor, you will surely miss a lot if you don’t try the food at this place.
If you can’t handle honest and humble food joints or if you have your family with you, then there is one AC dining area with sofas and cushions upstairs where you can get yourself seated! The ground floor also has seating arrangements but this portion is non-AC. I feel, the no-frill décor / rustic setting is somehow perfect for savoring this authentic Afghan food. Though some remodeling, revamping and maintenance can make this place look a lot better and do wonders, I’m sure that will be taken up in near future.
So, before moving on, let me tell you Afghan food is actually not very spicy but its super heavy and loaded with proteins and goodness, it is subtle yet very flavorful. And because it is very heavy make sure you consume as much as you can handle! So, let’s check what all food items I tried at this place. I started off with Chicken Siji. In fact, when you enter this place you can find a glass box with a sand bed left with whole chickens in it, that’s Siji preparation in progress.
Chicken Siji is not cooked in any oil or ghee and has got no masalas added to it. The whole chickens are slow cooked for 6-7 hours in its own oil, fat and juices on a bed of sand. The roasted chicken is then served with a unique pudina-mayo dip and some dry chaat masala on top. You can have it over there or go for a take away!
Anyway, after Chicken Siji I moved on to Mutton Roash and believe me, I loved it till the last nibble. Frankly speaking, I have never ever had a softer, juicier preparation of mutton before, that’s so damn tasty yet so subtle and light on spices. It is so soft that you will feel it’s kinda buttery! This is one must-try item if you are here at Kabul Kolkata. Mutton Keema was served along with it which was again extremely flavorful and was complementing the subtle flavors of Mutton Roash.
I tried the Afghani Naan with this keema which went pretty well. By the way, order for this Naan only when you are visiting this place in a large group because one such Afghani Naan can feed 4-5 hungry adult Indians. Yes, you read that right! It is huge, thick and literally quite heavy. It’s something amazing that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
Last but not the least, I was impressed with the Mutton Kabuli Pulao, I had never tried something like this previously. It had raisins and loads of dry fruits, thinly sliced carrots. It was tad sweet, not at all spicy and I realized it’s prepared mostly in the mutton stock which was slightly in excess, I guess! The pulao can overall be a bit less moist for my liking but the flavor and aroma just nailed it! It’s available nowhere else in Kolkata and one must surely try this out. And yes, it has got a tender piece of mutton as well, what else do you need? By the way – here is a fun fact, I had to miss two meals after I dined at this place, the food is so damn heavy and I kinda overate!! 🙂
When you are at this place, definitely try out these above-mentioned food items, and maybe more. If you like something else which I haven’t tried please do mention here in the comments section below! The service is pretty prompt and the prices are more than reasonable. And yes, I am sure this amazing Afghan Food joint will leave a sweet long lasting impression in everyone’s mind and taste buds. Dining at this place and having these food items is an experience in itself, don’t miss that chance!