For my birthday I wanted to do something different this year, in the sense that instead of having a gala lunch or dinner with my family I wanted to have a grand breakfast. Talking about breakfast what could be better than a gala Chinese breakfast in the heart of our grand old city of Kolkata.
Kolkata has a long history of Chinese population who had come here during the British India and permanently settled in India. In this city which they call it home has also taken them as a part of the city just like the Marwaris, Armenians, Jews etc.
A portion of the Chinese population is Kolkata resides around Tiretta Bazar and one can find many Chinese temples in this locality also. Every morning especially weekends a group of Chinese food sellers sets up temporary shop just behind Poddar Court selling some delicious and sumptuous Chinese breakfast.
One needs to reach early at around 6.30 AM to find these being served, this continues till around 8.30 AM on weekends as there is no hurry for them to clear the space which is a parking lot for office goers on weekdays.
Early morning this whole area is an open market and not only Chinese breakfast but one would get to see varieties of daily fresh products being sold. Vegetables, fish, chicken, fruits etc. are sold here and no these are not sold by Chinese.
Coming back to Chinese breakfast you will be spoilt for choice, so without wasting much time let me show you the spread for the day.
Steamed Dumpling (Momo) – Requires no introduction, you get them with pork, chicken or fish. This little steamed snacks is served in a plate with clear soup and sauce.
Fried Dumpling (Momo) – Instead of steaming the dumplings these are deep fried and very crispy. Tastes best with sauce and some soup.
Fish Dumpling Soup – In a bowl of clear soup some fish dumplings are added, tastes best when eaten piping hot. Add some sauce to make it spicier.
Pork Dumpling Soup – Similar to fish dumpling but I prefer to have this more as it tastes awesome.
Fried Pork Wonton – Similar to that of dumpling the only difference is in the shape otherwise tastes similar.
Shrimp Poori – This I guess is a fusion dish, take an Indian poori and add a shrimp in between.
Chinese Sausages – This thin sausages are very fatty and one can see the globules of pork fat in them, even though being very fatty these are a must have.
Pork Pau – It’s a bun which looks white from outside and is quite tasteless but it has a surprise filling in between which makes all the difference. You need to have some sauce along with it to make the buns spunkier.
Fish Pau – Similar to prok Pau these have a fish filling, have them when they are steaming hot to enjoy the rich fresh taste.
Noodle Soup – This is a typical noodle soup, lots of green vegetables along with stock and some noodle. Try this on a winter morning and your day will be made.
Rice pudding seasoned with sesame seeds – These are like a sweet sticky pudding with a generous layer of sesame seed on top. Keep this for the last and take a few of them back home for a quick bite when you feel hungry later in the part of the day.
Sweet Stuffed Buns – Not sure if these are authentic Chinese dishes but you do get them here, Riana loved them. These are buns with a sweet felling in between.
Sweet Crispy Buns – Again not sure of its Chinese origin but quite enjoyable crispy sweet bun.
Pork Rolls – Need I say more??? Pork wrapped and fried with a slight crispy outer layer, you will get the fish variety also.
Potato Pork Chops – These are also deep fried items, with a potato and pork fillings.
Chaang Yuan Paan (Vegetable Dumplings) – Just like the meat version these are for the veggies.
Ham Choi – The word “Ham Choi” literally means salted vegetables. For an experimentation these are a must.
Dried Ham Choi – Similar to Ham Choi but these are dried versions.
Khwai Choi Pan (Vegetable Pancakes) – Pancakes with a vegetable fillings.
Mee Kao Paan (Beef Balls and Rice Dumplings) – A good filler, you can add on some soy sauce for that extra flavour.
Sweet Rice Zung – Prepared by steam these are glutinous rice with different kinds of stuffing and served with a bamboo leaf cover.
Meat Zung – Similar to Sweet Rice Zung, these have a meat filling.
Red Roast Pork – Finding this was a real luck, I was busy having my Pork Pao when an elderly Chinese gentleman approached me. Seeing the camera around my neck he knew I was there to experiment on food so he asked me if I had seen the movie Enter the Dragon. On confirming he asked me if I remember a scene in which a pig is being carried and roasted over an open fire, another nod from me. Then he whispers to my ears and points to a man sitting on a pavement with a bag and indiscreetly handing out a brown packet wrapped in a newspaper in exchange of money, “he is selling that, you must try it, you will not get that anywhere else in this country my friend”.
And there I buy for 100 Indian Rupees a packet full of Red Roast Pork, it has been smoked whole night on a charcoal fire and light woody smell reconfirms that. The skin now brownish red in colour is crisp like potato chips and the meat and fats have a perfect tender feel.
Have it with bread and you will know what I am talking about. Just remember that it only sells in limited quantity and sells out within few minutes, so arrive early and keep looking around to spot these guys.
So you know where to have your next Sunday breakfast, remember to taste most of the dishes if not all to get a complete feel of a Chinese Breakfast. Keep in mind that there will be Chinese as well as non-Chinese sellers so make sure you are buying the authentic Chinese breakfast.
A special thanks to Robert Hsu for helping me to decipher some of the Chinese names and helping me to write this blog in such details.