The Kolkata summer can be unforgiving – hot, humid, unsettling. It saps your energy, leaving you willing to just laze around. However we all need to go about our work, and what better elixir than a glass of fresh cool fruit juice or sherbet.
Kolkata is home to lots of juice and sherbet outlets, be they standalone or inside malls and hotels. Of course, there are the ubiquitous roadside stalls as well, selling nimbu paani, sugarcane juice, mosambi (sweet lime) juice, mango juice during the summer, lassi and what not.
Delicious mango lassi from a roadside stall
Outlets selling sherbets and juices is not a new thing in Kolkata. In fact, the tradition is almost a century old, going back to Paramount. This sherbet house is located off College Street, on Bankim Chatterjee Street. The place specialises in sherbets, juices, and flavoured lassi, and those are the only things you will get there. It does not sell food – it has not diluted its USP in a hundred years. Its famous concoction is dab sherbet – sweetened green coconut water served with pieces of the soft milky white just-forming layer of coconut, scraped from the inside of the rind, floating inside. A spoon is provided too to pick up the juicy pieces of coconut. For those who have not tasted it yet and yearn for a unique sherbet, this is the one. The menu is almost a century old, as much as the shop is, and it is a closely guarded one. The other uncommon sherbet it serves is grape sherbet, with a nice hint of cashew in the taste. The grape (red grapes are used) is specially prepared for the sherbet for a few months, and cashew is infused later to bring out the perfect taste. Then there is the tamarind sherbet, which is also very nice. Then of course, there are the regular ones like lassi, different flavoured lassis, and others. Not just during summer, the place is crowded all year round, and is a favourite haunt of the college crowd from College Street.
Paramount sherbet centre
Another sherbet specialist is Ralli’s, located at Esplanade. Of course, here you can get food to go with the sherbet as well. Its sherbets are mostly made from Ralli’s syrups, and taste really good. Ralli’s Syrups is itself more than a century old. Like Paramount, this place too is crowded all year round.
Pulpy Grape Juice
This is one of the newer juice centres. It specialises in grape juice, made from red grapes. And as the name suggests, the juice is very thick and full of grape pulp, and tasty no doubt. Of course, it need not be mentioned that the grape pulp makes it nutritious too. Currently there are there outlets – on the lane between New Empire cinema and the old Lighthouse cinema, on Park Street, beside Magnolia restaurant, and another in Howrah. It also has outlets in Bangalore. It also sells the juice in bottles, and you can take one home to enjoy at your leisure.
Pulpy Grape Juice outlet beside New Empire cinema
The Juice Station
If you are in the Salt Lake area and yearning for some good juice, a visit to The Juice Station is a must. It is located on RDB Boulevard in Sector 5 in Salt Lake, in front of RDB Adlabs cinemas The mobile health juice bar comprises a full service vehicle well-stacked with all the ingredients required to prepare more than 40 smoothies and shakes ranging from strawberry smoothie to low-fat power shakes. The alliterative names add to the innovativeness of these preparations. The menu comes with detailed nutritional information about every item. It is the brainchild of Arundhati Dutta, an entrepreneur in her late 20s, who used to rue the dearth of juice centres that provide beverages in a hygienic manner. According to her, the aim is to offer nutritional fresh fruit beverages to the people in a hygienic manner. She has plans to expand across the country. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
The Juice Station
If you want to have branded roadside juice, go for Pure Bliss. There are Pure Bliss hand carts stationed at various street corners all over the city. The juices as well as jal jeera, soda shikanji, etc. are very tasty, and cheap too. Water of good quality is used in the preparations, which is a very important fact. So you can have from them without a second thought.
A beautifully decorated juice shop
Krishna Juice Centre on Middleton Row and Juice Salon on Ho Chi Minh Sarani are also quite good. Many types of juices, and smoothies, crushers and other variations of juices are also available at coffee chains like Cafe Coffee Day, Barista, etc. and at fast food chains like McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, etc. Juice setups can also be found in all the food courts in malls.
Hunting for a juice and even shakes isn’t a big deal in Kolkata. You can find a juice stall on many crossroads, and a joint serving shakes can be found in comparatively posh locations. However you have to be careful about the raw material, quality of ice, etc. It is best to go for the ones which serve 100% natural ingredients with no added preservatives or artificial colouring.
Roadside juice stalls abound in the city