Calcuttans have always put a lot of thought to the food on their plates. To honour the foodie in every Calcuttan and map the culinary heritage of the city, Intach in association with The Telegraph presented the Calcutta Culinary Heritage Awards, 2019, to 14 eateries that have made a name in the heart of citizens.
The awardees were given certificates and will be at a later date presented with a blue plaque in line with the blue plaque scheme in London to recognise their heritage status.
A panel of three had shortlisted about a hundred names initially. “There were around a 100 names categorised into different cuisines they served. The criteria for selection was that they had to be within the Calcutta Municipal Corporation area, has been in business since 1960 or earlier, is still in operation or alive in public memory and has a historical or cultural significance,” says Ayan Ghosh, an Intach member.
“We approached the establishments and asked for some document regarding their inception. It could be a corporation certificate or a licence or a lease agreement,” said Ghosh.
They referred to the Calcutta Street Directory brought out by Thacker, Spink & Company to establish the authentic dates and streets where the eateries were located.
A lot of unknown facts came to the fore while mapping this intangible heritage of the city. Like Trinca’s and Flury’s operated from the same premises at one time. Or that Kwality restaurant on Park Street first started as a tea room, serving snacks, said PN Ghai, who was there at the Fairlawn Hotel to receive the certificate.
“Kwality was started by my uncle. We used to serve snacks and then we served ice creams made in the kitchen. My family had learnt to make ice creams from Americans in Delhi,” said Ghai.
Bhim Nag, Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy, the custodians of Calcutta’s sweetmeat heritage, do not believe in having branches or expanding geographically. “Its difficult to maintain quality,” said Prajesh Nandy, of Nakur of 1844 vintage.
“This recognition will go a long way in establishing the culinary heritage in the city,” he said.
The Nakur shop on Ramdulal Sarkar Street has retained its vintage look with its red oxide floor where mounds of fresh chena on large wooden plates are rubbed vigorously by the moiras (sweetmakers). Kodapaker monda is the oldest sweetmeat from which other sweets have evolved, said Nandy.
Another restaurateur, who is a stickler for quality is Joel Huang of Eau Chew. “I buy all the ingredients myself and cook too,” said Huang, whose great grandmother started the establishment in 1927.
The list of 14 eateries will not be the only ones to get the blue enamel plaques, which are a heritage product itself. “There will be future editions to the Calcutta Heritage Culinary Awards and more establishments will get added on,” said G.M. Kapur of Intach.
Source: The Telegraph