Can anyone tell me where Dwarik Ghosh is located today or Sen Mahasay or Jalajog or Ganguram or Bhim Nag? The young persons know the location of Mc Donald’s and other pizza joints, to them these names are not likely to ring any bell. But for those who are in the fifty plus age bracket, these will certainly bring back pleasant memories of an era gone by, a period that has been lost forever to modernization.
The last I remember of Dwarik Ghosh is the large glass showcase in Shyambazar with the owner sitting behind the counter and delivering what the customer ordered. The shop was famous for the kachuris made of green peas – the process was unique, the first green peas of the season had a taste of their own. These would be boiled, mashed and spices added. Then they would be stuffed into balls made of maida and deep-fried in ghee. The final product had a distinct flavor of its own; you just could not hide it. People standing around you in the bus stop or the tram stop would know for certain that you were carrying the products of Dwarik Ghosh. The shop was also well known for a sweet called chhanar murki – a simple preparation, it was of the dry type. Chhana (or paneer) would be cut into tiny cubes, and cooked in a syrup of sugar. Flavor would be imparted by addition of the essence of attar. Once cooked properly, they would be laid out to dry. These could be preserved for some days.
Jalajog was renowned for its payodhi – it was a different variety of sweet curd. It had a reddish tinge and tasted heavenly. The shop in Shyambazar had a large painting of Rabindra Nath Tagore and in the bottom, his appreciation of the payodhi of Jalajog. Similarly, Sen Mahasay located in a tiny lane of Shyambazar in the vicinity of the cinema hall Talkie Show House served delicious Tal-sansh sandesh. Ganguram and Bhim Nag were other shops that had their specialties. In those days, advertisements used to be by word of mouth – the culture of North Calcutta was different from that of South Calcutta. When guests dropped by in the evenings, the local shops would be patronized – sweets were a must and, if the guest discovered something new, he would carry back samples. Later, he might become a patron of that particular outlet. That was the USP of these pioneers of sweetmeats – offer variety. Like the shop just a few steps away from Metro cinema – it was named Kalpataru and was one of the main outlets for North Indian, Gujarati and Rajasthani sweets.