Being a busy commercial center, Kalimpong boasts of a vibrant street food scenario full of old eateries and stalls.
In today's episode we are exploring some of these along with our dynamic host Nicholas Ghatani who is a freelancer in the area of tourism and media. He is also the co-founder of a small hot sauce manufacturing company named Greenly.
The day started with a simple yet delicious traditional breakfast at our homestay prepared by the very warm and genial Ms. Duke. This consisted of sel roti, chamri and aalu dum. The pretzel shaped sel roti made of rice and semolina was irresistible. The fenugreek seeds flavoured chamri, which was prepared on our request, was subtle and filling.
When the breakfast got over we departed for our first street food destination at Rishi Road named Amdo Restaurant that specializes in Tibetan dishes. Its interiors resembled a cosy Tibetan household. Here we ordered a Wai Wai laphing, tingmo and pork chilli. The former was a fun thing to try because of the contrasting textures of its components. Tingmo was pillowy soft and went well with the spicy pork chilli.
From there we reached Haat Bazaar which houses numerous stalls of daily commodities. It is also dotted with many small food stalls doing brisk business by catering to the shopkeepers and visitors. The first place that we went to was Manoj Food Cart. Here you will find different fried snacks. We opted for the sha phaley which is somewhat close to a minced meat paratha. The filling was spicy and juicy. Next we got to know about some local daily food ingredients and marcha which is used for making local liquor.
Next stop was Tara Phambi stall that is run by two genial ladies. Phambi is the most quintessential street food of Kalimpong that is prepared from mung beans through a slightly complex process. They are jelly like savoury chunks that are tossed in a chilli based sauce. We thoroughly enjoyed its silky, smooth and spicy mouthfeel. This was followed by a zesty plate of aalu thukpa which was noodles topped with aalu dum.
The following stop was Tenzing restaurant where we had a big sized pork momo. This place too is an old eatery serving affordable traditional snacks to the locals. This bread like momo was totally opposite to its regular thin skinned counterpart.
The penultimate stop was another old joint named Nima which is famous for thukpa and momo. We had intended to try chicken or pork thukpa over here but since it was all over, we didn't try anything else.
The final stop of this insightful tour was Renu Radhan's pickle shop. It is managed by a genial hardworking lady, Renu Pradhan. She sells various kinds of pickles and other local treats. With a beaming smile she made us taste some of them. If you have a penchant for local goodies, do give it a try.