The city’s most glamorous restaurant to drink and dine at is Mocambo (25 Park St, Taltala; above) on Park Street, which used to be a nightclub with live music and dancing until the late 1970s – it was Kolkata’s first nightspot when it opened in 1956. The dance floor may be gone, but the rest of the decor is clearly stuck in a time warp – low hanging silk lampshades, sultry lighting and servers in white uniform with turbans and cummerbunds.
The menu is boastful, and describes the Pork Cutlet (above left) as “insanely tasty” – it is has been stuffed with ham and cheese, and then breaded and fried before being topped with an aïoli sauce. Also excellent are the devilled crabs (above right), where crabmeat flavoured with cheese and mustard are served baked in their own shells. The cuisine is hard to pinpoint – it is a mash up of Anglo-Indian, British and European with generous lashings of originality.
A few doors down, Peter Cat (18A, Park St; by the same owners, but newer as they opened in 1975) is remarkably similar in decor, but slightly different in menu. While Mocambo’s menu is more European, Peter Cat serves North Indian cuisine with a few unique, experimental dishes thrown in. The chelo kebabs are what you should order. Traditionally north Indian kebabs are meant to be had with roti, but Peter Cat serves their chicken and mutton kebabs with buttered rice, a fried egg and grilled tomatoes. It’s a bizarre combination, but there is always an order on every table, and a snaking queue outside. Every. Single. Day.
Another must-have is the kathi roll, which is similar in concept to a shawarma, a kebab wrap or a burrito. The exact recipe though, was invented in Kolkata at a restaurant that still stands today. Nizam’s (24 Hogg St, New Market; opened in 1932) signature dish is essentially skewer-roasted kebabs (above) topped with raw onions, spices, lemon juice and chilli and all wrapped in a crisp fried paratha (wheat flour flatbread). There are several varieties available; the kebabs itself could be chicken, mutton, paneer or potatoes. You could opt to have your paratha fried with an egg or even ‘upsize’ your order into a double-meat, double-egg roll – it may burst at the seams but is double the deliciousness. The best part is that the most expensive roll on their menu is no more than Rs. 70 (US$1.09). Takeaways are recommended as the kathi roll is such a convenient meal on-the-go.
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This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.