Hardly an evening goes by when most of our phones do not buzz with a suggestive text, encouraging us to explore our options. No, not for dates, but for dinner. Knowing Kolkata and its love for food, we give in more often than not, thumbing our way through an infinite variety of items, justifying indecision as a family trait and ending up ordering whatever we ordered the day before. Zomato knows this better than most, for it has the data that defines Kolkata’s gastronomic desires. For the first time ever, My Kolkata has been allowed in on the secret, too, with Zomato sharing the numbers for the top dishes across Kolkata.
Without further ado, let us dig in!
Kolkata’s fab four
The busiest time for orders on Zomato are in the dinner slot between 8pm and 10pm, followed by the lunch slot between 1pm and 2pm. During both these slots as well as most of the rest of the day, more than 14,000 restaurants, cafes and eateries are active on Zomato, providing a never-ending smorgasbord to choose from. And yet, the data shows Kolkata’s timeless obsession with the classics.
Biryani is Kolkata’s most ordered food itemZomato
Securing top honours on Kolkata’s list of favourite dishes is, well, biryani, with its chicken and mutton preparations alternating places at the summit every other week. And no, this does not include vegetable biryani! Biryani’s supremacy comes as no surprise, given how closely this dish of seasoned rice with meat, egg and the special Kolkata touch of the aloo (not available at every restaurant) is linked to the city’s culture, heritage and lifestyle. Biryani is also one of the few items whose demand never dips, both among usual suspects like Arsalan, Shiraz, Zam Zam and Aminia as well as newer ones such as Biryani By Kilo and The Biryani Inc.
Paneer Butter Masala
Paneer Butter Masala is second on Kolkata’s food favouritesZomato
In second place on Kolkata’s most loved dishes is Paneer Butter Masala, something that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can enjoy with rice, roti or paratha. Cooked in a rich, dark and frothy gravy or in a lighter, healthier one, Paneer Butter Masala is a fixture at almost every vegetarian eatery in the city as well as dhabas like Azad Hind, Jai Hind and Sharma. Also, Paneer Butter Masala is quite common on menus of Mughlai restaurants, where they are generally served in a spicier avatar than their typical dhaba counterparts.
Masala Dosa clinches third spot on Kolkata’s fab fourZomato
Rounding off the podium places is a breakfast and lunch favourite for decades: the Masala Dosa. From Gangotri to Haldiram, from The Curry Leaf to Gupta Brothers and many more, Kolkata’s third most beloved item comes in all kinds of sizes and with all kinds of fillings. But the real star of the dish are often the chutneys that arrive as accompaniments but end up enduring the longest on our taste buds.
Rolls, the all-weather option, is fourth on the list of Kolkata’s most ordered items on ZomatoZomato
Completing the fab four favourites of Kolkata are the all-weather rolls – primarily egg and chicken – which, like a floater in a cricket team, can play a number of roles (no pun intended!) to delectable perfection. Need a big dose of appetiser to make up for several hours without food? Order a roll. Need something to feast on for dinner that does not require you to do the dishes later? Order a roll. Feel hungry but do not have the time to sit down for a meal as you head to your next meeting? Order a roll. And when you order, there is no shortage of options, from Kusum to Karim’s to Sher-e-Punjab, just to name a few.
Favourites by localities
Now that we have the macro picture of Kolkata’s food obsessions in place, it is time to break it down and see how the picture changes once we zoom into the different localities. Zomato tells us that chicken biryani dominates in South Kolkata, both in the Tollygunge and Ballygunge regions. In East Kolkata, in and around Baguiati, it is mutton biryani that receives more love, while beef biryani pips chicken in the Ballygunge belt. However, chicken biryani steers ahead again in North Kolkata’s Dum Dum and West Kolkata’s Behala.
Momos are most popular in Tollygunge and Dum DumTT archives
Momos, which almost shockingly failed to make the fab four overall, surge close to the top of the most ordered items in Tollygunge and Dum Dum, but do not fare as well across the rest of the city. Masala Dosa, which finished third on the main list, gets most of its orders from the Baguiati and Behala localities, but does not make it to the top three in any of the other regions studied by Zomato. Kachoris, especially of the hing variety, are extremely popular in Tollygunge and Dum Dum, but less so in East and West Kolkata. Finally, the outlier on this list is dal makhani, which seems to be an exclusive favourite for foodies in Ballygunge.
Bonds built during the pandemic
Among the reasons why Zomato has become so popular in Kolkata is not just the sheer multitude of items and restaurants it has on board, but also the bonds it has built with the restaurants. “We were one of the first users of Zomato, having joined pretty much when it arrived in Kolkata. As a result, our relationship with Zomato is more emotional than rational. During the pandemic, Zomato has supported us a lot, and played a crucial part in our national expansion from Kolkata to Bengaluru and Delhi,” said Debaditya Chaudhury, managing director, Chowman, Oudh 1590 and Chapter 2.
Debaditya Chaudhury says that the restaurants managed by him have more of an emotional rather than a rational relationship with ZomatoTT archives
Sumanta Saha, owner of Dada Boudi Biryani, echoed Chaudhury when he said: “Without Zomato, our business during the pandemic would’ve taken a major hit. We joined Zomato in 2018-19 and have had a great experience so far. One of the things we’re most happy about is that the items that people love to buy from Dada Boudi (chiefly biryani and kebabs) in-person are also more or less the same items that sell the most on Zomato.”
Having started its food delivery operations in Kolkata in 2015, Zomato has seen the city grow into one of its most important markets across India. “We’re further expanding our footprint in Hooghly, North Kolkata and South Kolkata. We have recently started delivering delicacies from Central Kolkata to Howrah and vice versa. The pandemic propelled the demand for food delivery and showed us a clear opportunity for expanding Zomato’s services to the outskirts of the city. We’re thankful to the people of Kolkata and all our stakeholders for helping us grow every day,” said Sriganesh Rajaraman, city head, and Jayesh Saraff, zonal head, Zomato Kolkata.