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For people of Kolkata, food is more of an emotion and yes, how can we forget mishti (sweets), Bengalis can die for it. If you visit the narrow lanes of Kolkata, there is no away you can ignore the iconic eateries and sweet shops. We all know gluttony is a sin, but will it make a difference if we tell you that once revolutionaries and freedom fighters visited these shops and discussed ideas that shaped India's future?
These famous pre-independence shops are serving mouth-watering food items and drinks topped with history and nostalgia. As customers cue up to taste their favourite sweet, snack or drinks, let us also indulge in a gastronomical journey-
Food is life and therefore, on India's 73rd Independence day, Boldsky brings to you the sweet and spicy history of Kolkata's 4 iconic pre-independence eateries-
1. Bhim Chandra Nag
Param Chandra Nag established this sweet shop in the year 1826 in Bowbazar, which was later inherited by his son Bhim Chandra Nag. The shop has two outlets, one located in Vivekananda Road and another at Nirmal Chandra Street. Bhim Chandra Nag is among the top renowned sweet shops in Bengal, which became popular for inventing a sweet named 'ledikeni'. There is no person in Bengal, who hasn't tasted this delicious sweet. Ledikeni was first made by Bhim Chandra Nag on the demand of Charles John Canning, who was the viceroy of India back then. Charles wanted to gift something special to his wife (Lady Canning) on her birthday and therefore, he asked Bhim to prepare a new sweet. The lady liked the sweet so much that she used to order Bhim to prepare it frequently and thus this sweet was named as Lady Canning, but over a period of time, due to a twist of the tongue, the sweet became famous as 'Ledikeni'.
The sweet shop is now looked after by its present owner, Tapan Kumar Nag. Today it is one-stop destination for foodies who love to have sandesh and other varieties of sweets like dilkhush, kada pak sandesh, manihara and others. With time, they have understood the taste and demand of the customers and that's why even the new generation is impressed by the collection of their sweets.
Watch the video here-
Paramount is located at the College street, Kolkata and was started in the year 1918 Nihar Ranjan Majumdar, who was a freedom fighter himself. This place is famous for a glass of sharbat (a sweet drink) and it was a hotspot for secret meetings of Indian revolutionaries during the swadeshi movement.
Paramount is open throughout the year due to its strong customer demand. The best thing about this place is, as soon as one enters the shop, the decor will be enough to make you a good dose of nostalgia. The names of famous personalities and freedom fighters, who visited this place are written on a wooden board.
The old glass-covered styled menus, narrow wooden chairs, and marble tabletops are enough to revive the old charm of this place. If you taste their daab sherbet, you will find that it has comes with a spoon so that you can lift the pulp of the fruit from the sherbet. Do try there Dub sherbet and malai sherbet.
3. Indian Coffee House
Located at a few steps ahead of Paramount, Indian Coffee House, too, stands at College street, just opposite to Presidency University. The place was and still is famous with poets, writers and students. Every day, several students come here and spend hours debating and discussing varied ideas. Great personalities like Manna Dey, Rabindranath Tagore used to visit this place.
This place was once the house of Shri Keshab Chandra Sen, a great Bengali philosopher who named this place as 'Albert hall'. It was after India's independence, the name of this iconic eatery was changed to 'Indian Coffee House'. The house started functioning as a coffee shop in the year 1942.
The shop provides adequate space to accommodate approximately 300-350 people. There are around 84 tables in the shop and 60 plus workers. Some of the workers are even working in this legendary eatery for more than 40 years.
During the British rule, the place also served as a hiding place for revolutionaries and so, there are 5 secret doors still present on the ground floor to date. Moreover, this place is always crowded by people of all age groups and one has to struggle for hours to find a seat.
4. Lakshmi Nayaran Shaw & Sons
The shop has been serving delicacies for the past 4 generations and even today, the taste of 'telebhaja' has not changed a bit. This 100-year-old shop is located opposite to Sottish Church School and started by Khedu Shaw, who was the owner of the shop back then and secretly used to distribute snacks to freedom fighters. Later, from the year 1964, he started distributing telebhaja for free on every Netaji's birthday, which is celebrated on January 23. Famous artists like Uttam Kumar and Bhanu Bandopadhyaya also used to visit this place.
This place is always crowded and if you are looking a delicious hot snack in the evening to go with puffed rice then try their aloo (potato) chop, paneer chop, devil cutlet, beguni, kashmiri chop, phulkobir chop, pyaaji and others. The shop also serves soyabean cutlets and chowmin chops during the festive season as well as on 15th August every year.
Happy Independence Day to everyone!