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Dacres Lane. Also known as James Hickey Sarani.
That narrow stretch running perpendicular to the Great Eastern Hotel (now Lalit Great Eastern) and Esplanade which was where street food for office goers possibly originated in Calcutta.
Located just off the busy Esplanade, it has catered to millions of office goers, a fair number of tourists and adventurous souls like me. To be honest, I have not been there since my youth, considering it faces a bit of dilapidation and there are far more eateries in place.
But one cannot deny that this is still a heritage in the city’s food landscape.
And we are not talking about phuchkas and chaats and the usual fare you see nowadays. Here, the signature dishes in Chittobabur Dokan is ghughni, stew, fish roll and khichuri, correct me if I am wrong!
This entire lane is still strewn with restaurants and food stalls dating back to more than five decades. Forget the few air-conditioned places in the vicinity (there are some ) and you will find yourself on an outdoor (often rickety) wooden bench balancing a steel plate and enjoying one of the most flavourful yet simple meals ever. The stew used to be a favourite; served with vegetables and a big chunk of mutton or chicken, it was humble and comforting.
Some years ago international chef Gordon Ramsay had set up a stall in Dacres Lane trying to outdo sales… I do not think he won!
Dacres Lane is not for the faint-hearted. Nor for those with a weak disposition. I have not been in years, but writing this has suddenly evoked memories… anyone coming with me?
For, as Oscar Wilde said, "after a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations!"