Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Kolkata Cha (tea)

Tea is integral to Indian, more so Indian Bengali culture. A typical breakfast or snack would include hot and sweet milk tea, a 'shingara' or 'samosa' or two, and sweets such as rossogolla (cottage cheese dumplings soaked in sugar syrup) or jilipi (made from flour, sugar and water).

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the major city of Eastern India, and where I spent my formative years. The majority of the people here are Hindu Bengali. Post 1991, Kolkata has seen a lot of development and growth, most noticeably in terms of consumerism. 'Salt Lake' is a large planned residential area north of the city, and it is home to one of the country's main shopping malls called 'City Centre'.

It is in this mall that we discovered an amazing 'cafe' where Bengali snacks and tea are served in the traditional way. Check out the picture where I am having tea from a traditional terracotta vessel, which is common at every street corner in the city. This is how real Indians take their tea. Also note the 'mora' or handwoven seats which are also common in homes in Kolkata. The place was packed with young and old alike. If you ever visit India, try to sample tea and Indian food this way.

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