They are little pockets of unadulterated happiness – filled with cabbage or minced meat, steamed or fried, with tangy mayo or hot chilli garlic chutney. Momos are one of the most-loved street fares of Kolkata. They are healthy, easy to gobble up and definitely pocket-friendly.
The best part is, they are accompanied by complimentary bowls of steaming soup that come with an 'all-you-can-eat' license. These Tibetan imports have firmly placed themselves beside Kolkata staples like rolls and phuchkas and no, we sure aren't complaining.
SHYAMBAZAR FIVE-POINT CROSSING
Dipankar Goswami has been making huge profits from his momo stall near the five-point crossing. His customer base has doubled in the last couple of years and the students of Manindra Chandra College form a large chunk of it. "I have been selling momos here for almost six years. The demand for momos among the students is huge," says Goswami
EXIDE CROSSING, NEAR RABINDRA SADAN METRO STATION
A bunch of college students spotted enjoying Intekhab Alam's momos for lunch – chatting and giggling away. This bunch is just a fraction of the 250-plus customers Alam gets every day. But this wasn't the scenario, even a couple of years back.
"The demand for momo has grown manifold in a little time. When I started out, I wouldn't get more than 50 customers a day," shared the garment trader-turned-chef-turned-momo stall owner.
Traditional steamed momos
PARK STREET, NEAR THE METRO STATION
At Firoz Khan's stall, near the Park Street Metro station, Nandita Paul and her friend were busy gobbling momos. In the midst of controlling the 'hoosh haash' from the spicy chutney, a regular told us how this pocket-friendly snack is her favourite. Firoz picked up the skill of making momos while working as a chef. And a dream to go solo made him set up his own stall.
"I have been running this for the last 14 years, and I have seen massive increase in its sale. While some years back I would get 50 customers a day, now I easily cater to 200-250 customers," Khan smiled.
NEW MARKET, NEAR SIMPARK MALL
Hailing from Nepal, Shankar Thapa grew up on momos, where generations before him earned their living by selling this snack. "I have been selling momos for three years now. However, I never thought I'll come to Kolkata and set up a stall here. I am making good profit," Thapa said.
Subrata Paul, who works nearby, is a regular at Thapa's stall. A fan of the chilli garlic chutney, Paul said, "They are delicious and students love them. Probably, that's the reason their demand has risen so drastically."
DALHOUSIE, NEAR RESERVE BANK OF INDIA
Kartik Prasad Bari, whose kiosk beside RBI attracts many bankers, attributes the rise in his sale to the unique flavours of momo. "The bankers, who can easily have high-end meals, prefer my momos to those oily dishes. I can see that it's not about the money. I sell chilli chicken, fried rice, chicken pakoras, etc, and yet, momos are the hottest-selling item," said the jovial momo seller.
That's the reason why health-conscious students finds Kartikda's momos good enough for lunch.
"It's not oily and hence, not harmful for health. Street food are generally unhygienic, hence people are wary of it. Kartik-da's stall definitely passes the hygiene test," claims a student.
Lead image: Paisa Vasool Khana, Business Seva, Andrea Savage’s blog