Someone once told me, “(for a Bengali) nothing is more farcical than to read Russian literature in English”. The reason is simple, why would I read a foreign language in another foreign language when it is available in my mother tongue. The same can be said about foods of a place which you visit. Why would you eat Italian or Continental or Chinese, when you have delicious Bengali and Mughlai cuisine available? You would get continental in every part of the world but you surely wouldn’t get ethnic Bengali foods in the UK, USA or Germany! Thus, I will take you to places which are not mentioned on Travelguru or Expedia guides and where you can eat what you should, once in Kolkata.
Aminia: This is situated just behind New Market, in front of Regal Cinema and for Bengalis, this is synonymous with Biriyani. They are in the service for over a hundred years now and your dream of having authentic curry (Chicken or Mutton) which is not too hot is satisfied here. It has ample sitting arrangement and even private cabins and once here, you will see people from every sect of life getting their portion of delicacy here. Order Chicken Biriyani and Mutton Champ, a type of Mutton curry or Mutton Rezala. Some green salad to accompany and you are set! Finish it off with a sweet dish called Firni. I would carry my bottled drinking water with me though. Yes, you can carry water or cold drinks with you but you can’t smoke or enjoy alcohol on the premise. They have also started delivering food so you can order on the phone but if I were you, I would have sat there and cherished.
Once done, don’t pay the bill and move out. Instead, step out and go back a few steps and just beside New Market 2nd gate, you can find Masala Soda, yes spicy soda or coke. It doesn’t contain pepper and this drink, after Biriyani, is just awesome!
Siraz: Bengalis continuously argue if Aminia has lost its charm and if yes, who has replaced it, Siraz or Arsalan. However, I would ask you to choose Siraz, simply because of the do pyaza they prepare. Literally meaning double onion, Chicken or Mutton do pyaza is a curry which is well accompanied by tandoori roti, Indian flat bread. This is situated just besides the 5-point crossing of Park Circus and you have to take a taxi to reach, assuming your hotels in Kolkata is just near Esplanade.
They are decidedly more modern in amenities than Aminia and if that is a condition for you to eat well, you should try Siraz.
They have a pretty long menu card and most of the items are readily available with them. Warning, Siraz is extremely popular and you might have to wait for a table and there is no table booking over the phone.
Janbazar Hindu Hotel: This is a restaurant, not a hotel even if the name says so, and it is not for the weak-hearted. This is an extremely backdated restaurant and at a not so popular” location of Kolkata, Janbazar. In fact, business acumen is so much lacking that they haven’t properly named this restaurant either or at least, I am not aware of. But, if you can ignore the lack of amenities, this is where you get the best Bengali dishes which you wouldn’t get anywhere else in Kolkata. I repeat, you get Bengali dishes here which you can’t get anywhere else in Kolkata.
They serve nothing fancy and only Bengali diet is available here. Expect rice, dal, a variety of fishes cooked in dozens of different ways, exotic (or, at least, rare) vegetables, the best of Bengali styled meat preparations, chutney and what not. Come here for an experience! Not many travel guides on Yatra would tell you of this place but then, that’s why you are reading me, right?
Magnolia: Once you are done trying out Mughlai and Bengali cuisine, you would want to eat some familiar foods and that is when you should come to this chic and modern Park Street restaurant. If you are living in one of those budget hotels in Kolkata at Marquis Street, you can walk to Magnolia. Here you will find the best European and Chinese food, English speaking handsome waiters with bow ties, AC and slow music and all the drinks. Magnolia carries a legacy of a few decades and is one piece of the west in the east. You can try out your favourite foods here and almost everything is available. The costs, yes, affordable, just like everything else in Kolkata. Being a modern establishment, this is more popular on the internet and there is every chance that you might have heard of it on Yatra or MakeMyTrip blogs.