A Postcard to Prawn Cutlet

A Postcard to Prawn Cutlet

Address: Allen Kitchen, 40/1 Jatindra Mohan Avenue, Kolkata 700006

Dear Prawn Cutlet,

How have you been? It’s been some time since we saw each other. But I think of our meeting often. For me, it was love at first bite. I had travelled all the way from South Kolkata to the overwhelming streets of North Kolkata and to your house in Sova Bajar. Though signage was a bit intimidating with the hellish fonts, I was reassured by the tag line that read The taste of heaven. As I made my way through the tiny kitchen, the soot covered walls spoke of the years of heritage it’s guarding. I met your makers too. The oldest one has been with you since he was a kid. His shrivelled hands were gentle with the mallet, like a father admiring his baby.

As I settled myself in the sitting room, I was pleasantly reminded of the old Calcutta cabin culture. I did throw a cursory glance at the menu, but it was you whom I came to meet. A few minutes’ wait, and there you were, right in front of me, golden as El Dorado and hot as George Clooney in ‘One Fine Day’. The boiled potato slices were something new for me as accompaniment, the onion slices and kashundi (mustard sauce) were however expected. Large, juicy prawns were cut and flattened, and were very mildly flavoured with secret spices. The freshness of the prawns was evident by the pink colour that somehow retained itself in spite of being dipped in a light batter of flour and deep fried in fragrant ghee. Yes, ghee – the magical liquid that makes you stand out from your brethren of crumb coated chop, cutlet. And I was told only lokkhi ghee was used to fry you. Each bite delivered velvety mouthful of deliciousness. Yes, I ate you (and you didn’t complain by giving me an indigestion) but I take comfort in the fact that you are immortal. You take birth in the hole in the wall yet holy Allen kitchen every morning to satiate our love for you. You make lovers come back for you, not only those who live in other parts of Kolkata, but also those who moved away from the city. You are a part of Kolkata nostalgia and I pray to the food god (I am sure there’s one) that you always remain so.

Till we meet again,

Your not so secret admirer.

A bit about Allen Kitchen:

Allen Kitchen is roughly a 130 year old establishment, started by a Scotsman named Allen. The original location was at Chitpur before they moved to the current location. Mr. Allen gifted the eatery to his faithful and diligent manager, Mr. Jibonkrishna Saha. The Saha family is the owner ever since. Presently the place is run by Mr. Dipak Saha and Mr. Goutam Saha, the great grandsons and the fourth generation of Mr. Jibonkrishna Saha. Goutam, though a Taj trained chef, follows the original recipes, thankfully! They run their kitchen between 4pm and 9pm so make sure you reach well in time. The tiny eatery is not air conditioned but is clean and furnished with typical food cabin-world sturdy wooden tables and chairs.

This heritage food-stop is very much near Sovabazaar metro station. It falls on your left while going towards Girish Park from Sovabazar on Central Avenue / Jatindramohan Avenue. You can also refer the Map  .

The menu at Allen is not very lengthy, though it is not really hard to choose among the options of delicious fries. Prawn cutlet, fish roll and chicken roll are highly recommended.

Reference:

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Finely Chopped by Kalyan Karmakar

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