Revisiting Zakaria Street

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Zakaria Street (Jacquaria Street) situated near Mahatma Gandhi Road in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is a commercial hub & home to the largest mosque in Kolkata “Nakhoda Masjid”. Although this masjid has a charm of its own, the street is where the life is, on the month of Ramadan. Both in Sehri (pre-dawn meal) or before and after Iftar (sunset meal), this place has a lot of buzz on the street. People visit this place mostly for the variety of Mughlai food it offers (from Nehari to Halim, or Laddoo to Halwa) & street shopping before Eid. You enter the street and would be greeted by stalls of sweets, dates(khajoor) & laccha/semayi shops. You have to penetrate a bit more and on the interiors, you will find that distinct smell that really tells you that you’ve arrived at the heart of it. The kebabs, the fried fish/chicken & the well known halim (stew with wheat, barley , meat etc).

It was ironic to find the food stalls are run by small families with father and son duo’s. Some busy in doing business, some just taking it light and having fun with it. Some were even multitasking with fried eateries & clothing line together on the same shop. And it won’t be a full trip of this place if you haven’t crossed a corner without getting the smell of Ittars (natural perfume oil). And the shopkeeper insisting to rub some on your palm to get the smell going. But with all of this, it’ll not be very difficult to find out the beggars in every nook & corner, the poverty, the struggle. A blind women on a dark corner placed right at the corner of a turning to get god foot traffic, followed by many more scattered around. This is a place where people from far off come not only to taste Kolkata Mughlai street food, but to intake the feel of the living street. Food & culture brings it together in this street at Kolkata in the holy month of Ramadan. I’v been visiting this street from childhood, and will always be a place where I come back to.

Margub Ali is a 25 years old Civil Engineer, LBS – II based in Kol kata. He has been shooting for RollingStone India, NH7, WTS, Avantika magazine etc for last couple of years.

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