Just a minute’s walk from Park Street, which is undoubtedly the most party-friendly road in Kolkata with its iconic restaurants, pubs and bars, is a short, quiet road called Russel Street. Over the years Russel Street has slowly emerged as one of the leading street food destinations in the city. It has an interesting range of outlets, many of which are open through the day. However, come evening and a small stretch of the road, opposite the popular Gangaur sweet shop, transforms into a buzzing street food hub with stalls serving typical street eats such as pani puri, jhalmuri, crispy chillas and even kulfi. Here’s a look at some of the places worth a stop on Russel Street, starting from the Middleton Row side and ending at Park Street itself.
Keep in mind:
- Russel Street connects Park Street to Middleton Row. Availing the metro would be the best option to reach here. Get down at either Maidan Station or Park Street and walk the rest of the way to Russel Street (should take between 5 – 10 mins).
- There is a cluster of eateries at the Middleton Row–Russel Street junction which are open through the day. The street food stalls come to life around 5 PM right opposite Gangaur Sweets further down the road.
At the corner of the Middleton Row-Russel Street junction, a jhalmuri wala puts up a makeshift stall every afternoon. Jhalmuri is Kolkata’s favourite evening snack. It consists of a base of puffed rice mixed with a whole host of ingredients such as finely chopped boiled potatoes and onions, roasted groundnuts, coconut shavings, a few drops of mustard oil, a signature jhalmuri masala and is finally served in a paper bag topped with some sev. This three generations old stall does not have a name and the owner prefers that he be called ‘jhalmuriwala’(someone who sells jhalmuri). However, it would not be difficult to find it since it is so well known.
Must try: Jhalmuri
This small juice shop is almost right at the Middleton Row-Russel Street crossing. It offers a variety of fruit juices. Sweet Lime, locally known as Mousambi, juice is the most popular one here. Mango juice is also extremely popular during the summer months. The juices come in a range of small glasses and are served with a topping of dry fruits.
Must try: Mousambi Juice. Also serves: Seasonal juices including Mango juice.
While walking towards Park Street from the Middleton Row end, on the left sidewalk are a cluster of small eateries. One of these is a small stall supported by The Society for Comprehensive Rehabilitation Service. This popular eatery serves fresh and filling sandwiches along with other items such as soups, noodles, burgers and cutlets. Their grilled chicken cheese sandwich stuffed generously with chicken and cheese is recommended by regulars.
Must try: Sandwiches
What can be better than a steaming hot cup of chai to start a day with? Russel Punjabi Dhaba is a 50 year old dhaba converted into a more structured eatery. It’s a favourite among morning walkers who usually stop here for a bhanr (terracotta cup) of steaming hot, masala chai accompanied by a spicy samosa. The samosas are freshly fried in the mornings and the aroma entices even the most stoic morning walkers to indulge.
Must try: Chai and Samosa
Gangaur Sweets, located right in the middle of Russel Street is a decades old sweet shop that also serves snacks during meal times. Their wide variety of laddoos and sandesh are totally worth a try. They also offer a number of sweets made of besan or gram flour, which is not very common in other sweet shops around Kolkata. Dilkhusad, one of these besan-based sweets, much like a besan barfi, is a must-try.
Must try: Dilkhusad. Also serves: A variety of laddos and sandesh along with other sweets and snacks.
Evening Street Food Fair
Every evening, the sidewalk opposite Gangaur Sweets comes alive with a host of street food vendors. From the quintessential jhalmuri vendors to typical Kolkata phuchka stalls to a moong-dal chilla stand and a traditional kulfi vendor, this is a superlative street food experience, right in the heart of the city.
Groups of people jostle for their turn as the phuchka vendors dole out one tangy-sweet phuchka after another to each batch of customers. Others wait patiently at the chilla stand, watching their chillas sizzle and get cooked. The chillas are served with a pair of chutneys – zesty coriander and piquant garlic – making this a toothsome experience. The jhalmuri vendor usually has a lineup of orders to fulfill. From the regular jhalmuri to the all-time favorite bhelpuri, and even other chats such as tomato sev puri, batata sev puri etc., he has a lot on offer. End this street food affair with some traditional fruity kulfi – served out of a tin mold, which is pulled out of a specially designed earthen pot. Bliss!
Must try: Phucka, Chilla, Kulfi. Also serves: Jhalmuri.
Kusum Rolls, just across the road from Russel Street, is actually located on Park Street but must be included since this is a street food post. Hugely popular, this 37 year old outlet is has only added to its fan base over these years … waiting time for a roll can be as high as 20-25 minutes on most evenings. Their classic egg chicken roll is a must try. The crispy, fluffy paratha is fried with an egg and stuffed with chunks of marinated and cooked chicken kebabs. Finely sliced raw onions are placed in the center, two types of sauces are drizzled over and a final dash of lime is added before it is rolled and handed over to the usually eager patron. Their kebabs are equally good and are served with extra cheese or mayonnaise if asked for!
Must try: Egg Chicken Rolls. Also serves: Aloo Paneer Roll, Mutton Roll, Kebabs.
A few other things to try in Russel Street:
- Doi Phuchka from any of the Phuchkawala stalls near the Middleton Row-Russel Street crossing. Phuchka is the Bengali version of the more popular Panipuri or Golguppa. Doi phuchkar is a variation in which the phuchka is stuffed with a spicy mashed potato filling and are topped with curd, sev and special masalas.
- Alookat or Churmur from the vendor right at the crossing. Churmur or Alookat is, again, a popular Kolkata chaat, made of finely cut pieces of boiled potatoes and boiled peas. The potatoes and peas are mashed and sprinkled with crunched paapris, chaat masala and mixed together using some of the tangy-sweet phuchka. The chaat is served in an eco-friendly dona (leaf bowl) garnished with fresh coriander.