Come the month of Ramzan and Kolkata’s foodies are sure to make their way to Zakaria Street for lip-smacking iftar-special delicacies. Succulent kebabs, flavourful haleem, creamy faloodas, sheermal, halwa-puri, and more — for the khaane ke shaukeen, this street-food hub is paradise!
My Kolkata asked food vloggers and bloggers, restaurant owners and chefs for their best picks from the feast at Zakaria Street.
Ashish Vidyarthi, actor and vlogger
Ashish Vidyarthi, actor-turned-food vlogger, visited Zakaria Street for the first time and was surprised by the ambience, food and people. “I loved the energy and the buzz on Zakaria Street. A few years ago, I visited Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai during Ramzan and the ambience on Zakaria Street is similar. I really enjoyed having the falooda and the buttery, creamy Peshawari Murragan from Taskeen.”
The actor was accompanied by vloggers Souvik Bhattacharya and Nairit Duttagupta. They visited popular places like Adam's Kebab, Taskeen, Al Baik etc. The food walk had to come to an end when Vidyarthi was mobbed by his fans for selfies. “The food is absolutely amazing and I would definitely love to come back even after Ramzan,” he said.
Top picks: Falooda and Peshawari Murragan from Taskeen
Souvik Bhattacharya and Nairit Duttagupta, vloggers
L-R: Souvik Bhattacharya, Ashish Vidyarthi and Nairit Duttagupta at Zakaria StreetNairit Duttagupta
Souvik Bhattacharya, owner of YouTube channel The Good Food Bro, and his photographer friend Nairit Duttagupta took Ashish Vidyarthi on a Zakaria Street food walk. Souvik is a frequent visitor to the food street. “Zakaria Street is a city's melting pot during this time of the year. The labyrinth of alleys has delicacies prepared live around the corner, and my first preference is to visit at that time. Winter is subsequently the second season to explore the food,” said the vlogger.
Nairit Duttagupta, who runs the YouTube channel Khanabadosh, also visits the food paradise during Ramzan every year and says that there are fewer temporary stalls since the pandemic. Souvik also agreed and said that in the case of permanent stalls, the prices of the dishes have increased by 15-20% post pandemic.
Adam’s Kebab Shop and (right) Battisi Halwa from Haji Allauddin SweetsJaismita Alexander
Top picks: Suta Kebab at the 107-year-old Adam’s Kebab Shop; chaanp and firni from Bombay Hotel; luscious, thick, creamy falooda from Taskeen, Betki Fry from Al Baik, Afghani Chicken from Dilli 6, Battisi Halwa from Haji Allauddin Sweets, Murgh Changezi and Peshawari Murragan from Taskeen.
Avijit Biswas, vlogger
Avijit Biswas is a food vlogger who reviews various new places and food. Recently, he visited Zakaria Street on a food walk with a group called Food Avengers. He is a frequent visitor to Zakaria Street and knows the nitty-gritty of the place. “I have been visiting Zakaria Street for the last six years in groups. Now, we have a set route that begins with Adam's Kebab. For anyone going to Zakaria Street for the first time, I would suggest entering from Phears lane starting with Adam's Kebab, Haji Allauddin, Al Baik and then going to the rest.”
Kebabs at Al BaikAshim Paul
The truly Bangali food vlogger loves exploring small shacks for haleem and kebabs. “Opposite Al Baik there is a small shop that sells haleem for Rs 30. It is not top-quality, but for that price it is pretty good. Also, on the lane opposite Al Baik is a nondescript shop that doesn't have a name, which sells khiri kebab and khiri bhuna that is a must-try for anyone who loves beef.”
Top picks: Afghani kebabs from Al Baik, Coin Jalebi from Haji Allauddin, Fish Fry from Muradabadi Laziz Kebab, Aflatoon (scraped ice-cream made of various fruits).
Poorna Banerjee, food blogger
Poorna Banerjee visits Zakaria Street all round the year, but also makes a customary visit during Ramzan to try her favourites. First on her recommendation list is the beef chaanp and tandoori roti from Islamiya Hotel. “Although many things have changed for me over the years, one of the things that hasn't is the chaanp from Islamiya hotel. This chaanp is sans turmeric, the colours obtained from being slow cooked in a flat pan for a good while. The thick kai (gravy) is plentiful and goes wonderfully with their in-house tandoori rotis, or the ones back home. The gravy has a delicate creaminess to it that can only be obtained either with the use of nuts, or thickened cream, or a combination of both, I suspect. And although some pieces melt in your mouth, some remain chewy, reminding you of the fact that this is what meat is — a celebration of texture and taste.”
She also suggests Abdul Hameed's beef kheeri and beef boti. Apart from food Poorna also suggests a few utilities that can be bought from the place. " They have excellent steel utensils that, if you can figure out what works, are priced at absolutely steal deals. Plus, Zakaria has one of my favourite things - ittar and surma. However, only buy from shops, and not from the roadside."
Top picks: Beef chaanp and tandoori roti from Islamiya Hotel, Gulab Jamun from Haji Allauddin, Khiri and Boti Kebab from Abdul Hameed.
Rahul Arora, chef and restaurateur
Rahul Arora has spent a major part of his childhood in and around Zakaria Street since his father owned a shop on Ezra Street. According to the chef and restaurateur, Ramzan food is not limited to kebabs and haleems. “Taskeen, Delhi 6, Al Baik, etc. are there throughout the year. The real iftar food is not non-vegetarian. It is mostly fruits, juices, bhajias (fritters), and halwa puri. One cannot miss the halwa puri at Zakaria!”
Halwa puri in the makingAshim Paul
Chef Rahul also pointed out that the place has something for everyone. “Zakaria Street has ample options for vegetarian people and non-beef eaters. The seasonal fruits are available in abundance. This time I saw a variety of melons. Especially the yellow watermelons along with the red ones. There is also a huge variety of fritters. One can also have the simple dahi vadas. If you are a sweet lover, you will get great options at Haji Allauddin like the Coin Jalebi, Battisi Halwa.”
Top picks: Sheermal, mawa bread, halwa puri, shahi tukda, haleem, kala chana.
Prithvish Chakravarti, restaurateur
Prithvish Chakravarti, owner of Calcutta Stories Café and Deli, recently went on a food expedition to Zakaria Street. His recommendations consist of fish fries, chaanp, khiri kebabs, haleem, halwa puri and more.
“Bengalis, irrespective of religion, caste or creed, just need an excuse to enjoy food. Biryani, dal gosht, and chaanp from Bombay Hotel. The dal gosht and chaanp were a perfect 10, the biryani too was spiced perfectly (reminding me of Haan D Biryani). The meat, though, could have been a tad more tender in the biryani,” wrote Chakravarti on one of his social media posts.
Fish fry at Muradabadi Laziz KebabJaismita Alexander
Continuing on the Ramzan journey at Zakaria, Chakravarti also recommended the fried fish from Muradabadi Laziz Kebab. “If you like fried fish, this one is a keeper. A huge katla (south asian carp) slathered in a spicy marinade hangs from a post. He (the man) cuts a portion for us, weighs it at 250g and charges us Rs110. Slices it up, and pops it into his wok of hot oil. We huddle over his plate of freshly fried fish. We bite into that thin crisp flavourful batter. The spices explode in your mouth. You can't stop eating it, you don't mind the bones, but you have to let out the hot steam from your mouth.”
Top picks: Biryani, chaanp and haleem from Bombay Hotel, fried fish from Muradabadi Laziz Kebab, khiri kebabs from Dilshad Lazeez Kebab and halwa puri.