Black Candy, Hindustan Park, Kolkata
Contributed by Antara Ray
Unusually named and unassumingly located on the lawns of a majestic old bungalow in Hindustan Park, Black Candy does enough to intrigue curious passers-by to sneak in and find out what it’s all about. At least that’s how we were tempted to hush-step inside the silent porch as we noticed a guy in a hoodie playing cards by himself. We did not want to disturb him or the serenity of the place, but then he got up and smiled and asked us where we would like to sit. One of us, the ever curious one, said “We’ll sit outside but we’d love to look inside”. The seating both indoors and outdoors is obviously amateurish and cutely so. A couple of retro pink chairs thrown around, garden umbrellas on the lawn, festively lit up trees lining the lawn, seating area extended to the garage as well; am not sure how many would agree with me but I like this offbeat homely feeling. It reminds me of some of the small towns I have been brought up in, where we would keep our expectations really low and in turn savour every small deviation from what conventional people term as normal.
The hooded guy, Prithwi, not only made sure we were comfortable and took our orders, but also cooked and delivered it himself. I’ll be honest that when we saw noone else around, we were apprehensive of how Prithwi would manage the entire deal on his own. But mistaken we were, and how! Our apprehensions were put to rest when the food arrived in all it’s humble glory. Our order was rather modest as was our appetite that particular evening. We ordered a cream of mushroom soup and two plates of chicken momos (after the customary ranting by the boys about the absence of pork in the menu). The soup was good. Real good. Clear, light brown mushroom broth, not heavy with cornflour or other additives, and with enough chopped mushrooms in every person’s bowl so there was no soup fight (Its not uncommon given the company I keep).
The bigger surprise, however, still awaited us. It may be considered easy to dish out a fairly good soup (it isn’t) but making a good momo isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. These momos were huge, consistently sized, perfectly pleated, thinly wrapped with a sizeable chunk of ground chicken filling, correctly seasoned, served with the customary broth and a freshly made momo chutney that felt as if it had been coarsely grounded in a mortal pestle instead of a conventional mixer. Carefully done, they satiated our appetite, and ticked all the right boxes. Even though Kolkata is a city where momos are found in abundance at every street corner, these were by far the best momos I’d had in quite a while.
Encouraged by these pleasant surprises, we decided to order something more and zeroed in on an American Chopsuey. It came as a bowl of crisp fried noodles topped with gravy and a fried egg. Sadly the noodles had lost their crunch by the time they landed on our table – something we attributed to the fact that both the noodles and the gravy were not thick enough to hold their own together. It was tasty, nevertheless, and we did mop up our the last bit of gravy from our bowls.
Prithwi asked us if the food was good, and we gave him our two cents on the chopsuey, I suggested maybe it would be a good idea to serve the noodles and gravy separately to avoid that risk. He seemed slightly sad that it wasn’t perfect, and we complimented him on the momos and the soup to bring his smile back. “Did you make those amazing momos yourself?” we asked when he shyly nodded to his accomplishment; ditto when we asked him if he was the same fashion choreographer whom most of the city’s showbiz knew. I know what you’re thinking. Perhaps next time we will use our charm to get him out of his shell and share his story.
Black Candy has quite an expansive menu (mostly Chinese and Tibetan regulars) considering its just one man running the show. And yes, they also serve hookah. Prices at black candy are quite reasonable if you ask me. We ordered 2 soups, 2 plates of momos and a Chopsuey and paid 320 bucks with full tummies and gladdened hearts.
Ed: Cover photo not from this establishment.