Tiretti Bazar – a buzzing Chinese Bazar which starts as early as 5am in the morning and disappears sharp at 8:30 am, just before the offices start and the roads turn into parking spaces for the day – is a story that needs to be told fast before it disappears. Kolkata is the only Indian city with an official Chinatown known as Tangra and the unofficial count of the number of Chinese stands at 5,000 – 200,000. An interesting read on the history of Chinese immigration in Kolkata will explain how the Chinese have contributed to many areas of the social and economic life of Kolkata. And this history dates back as early as 5th Century A.D.!

Bengali language has borrowed the most important ingredient in their lives from the Chinese – Sugar in Bengali is called Chini which means ‘Chinese’!

Tiretti Bazar, near Poddar Court in North Kolkata is a Chinese Bazar in the mornings till 8:30 am, after which it is hard to believe that this place was ever a Bazar full of Chinese migrants selling Chinese food products and various Chinese stores selling from Sauces to home-made Noodles. When we were in college, we would visit this place often. Have authentic Momos and Dimsums for breakfast and reach college perfectly on time, smelling of garlic Momos and chilli sauce!

However, my journey back to Tiretti Bazar this time with the Z-SISTERS in tow brought only disappointment. Disappointment because there were hardly any Chinese around. There was only one lady selling Momos – the lady whom we used to call Aunty. Aunty and her husband looked the same even decades later. And the crowd gathered around them also seemed familiar – college students, office goers – but all of them had to be real foodies. Who else would wake up at 5 am in the morning and rush to Tiretti Bazar, just to have Momos!

Kolkata at this hour looks surreal. Empty roads rustling up as the cleaners start sweeping the roads, the birds chirping slowly as they wake up along with the other sleepy residents of  the city…

Aunty and her husband serving up Chicken Paos (above) and Pork Paos (below left) – the strong aroma drifting out of the aluminium containers and hitting you once the lids are opened!

Fish Dumpling (above), Pork Momos and Pork Paos (below)

Fried Rice balls – definitely high Carb and high Calorie, but worth every paisa spent!

Why am I not surprised? I met Sayan – the Lonetrotter, another Food and travel Blogger – up and awake early (like us) just to EAT! Dear Lonetrotter, you made me feel so good that I am not the only loonie roaming around in the streets at various hours sniffing for food. Lonetrotter’s comment that ‘after this Aunty there will be no more Momos in Tiretti Bazar’ brought me into the grim reality of the dwindling Chinese Community in Kolkata. When I asked Aunty where were the other Chinese who use to sell Momos here, she bluntly told me that ‘ everyone else had gone abroad!’

A reality that is a part of many social structures in many parts of the world. A word of thanks to my friend Yummraj whose post on Tiretti Bazar had stirred up my desire to go back to the place which had been our frequent breakfast haunt as permitted by our student budget.

Holding on to the last remnants of home-made Momos in Tiretti Bazar, we had a brilliant morning. The rates are as follows –

Pork Pao – Rs 20/small Pao; Rs 25/big Pao
Chicken Pao – Rs 25/piece
Rice Ball – Rs 10/piece
Steamed Momos – Rs 10/plate
Fried Momos – Rs 20/plate
Pork Dimsum – Rs 12/plate

Timings: 5am – 8:30 am (closed on Mondays)
Location: Sunyet Sen Street, near Poddar Court behind LalBazar Police Headquarters and near the Central Metro Station in Bowbazar. If you drive to this place you have ample parking in front of Poddar Court. But please make sure you go early so that the Momos are still available and the Bazar hasn’t turned into a Parking lot for vehicles of the office-goers. If Cinderella lost her glass slippers exactly at midnight, here the crazy transformation happens exactly at 8:30 am – 9:00 am in the morning!

The Chinese Bazar (below) before it transforms into a parking space as the office hours begin…

Holding on to the past… The following are a few posts that I have come across done by my fellow bloggers on Tiretti Bazar. One common feeling prevalent amongst all of us is Tiretti bazar is unique and definitely shouldn’t be let to become just a chapter in history. A collaborative blog post with the help of media, perhaps? Is someone willing to give us that opportunity?

1) Yummraj – Tiretti Bazar: Home-made food sold by Chinese migrants on the streetside (near Poddar Court, Kolkata)
2) Finely Chopped – The Fading Chinese Whispers of Kolkata … Kim Ling Tangra, Tiretti Bazaar breakfast
3) Times of India – Breakfast at Tiretti’s
4) Itiriti – Breaking fast on a Rainy Day

A few things that one must do so that the memories of Tiretti Bazar lasts a bit longer is to buy the home-made  Prawn Papads, home-made sausages, Chilli Sauces and many other Chinese savouries that you can buy from here and take back home. Although I wish a better future for all the Chinese migrants who used to throng this Bazar once upon a time who have ‘gone abroad’, at times I wish if time had stood still then Tiretti Bazar would still look like what my earlier memories recall it as… Do visit the lone Aunty of Tiretti Bazar to have her incredible Momos, Dimsums and Paos – before she too decides to ‘go abroad’!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

36 Comments on “Momos in Tiretti Bazar | The Last Chinese Remnants Of Kolkata!

  1. I go back to Kolkata every year but I haven’t been to this place before! I am usually guided by my husband or bro-in-law but we’ve never been here. Gotta have a conversation with husband tonight about that 😉 But I sure am going here during my next visit to Kolkata! I am so happy you are doing this series coz there are so many such kinda interesting places in Kolkata which only people living there or ppl who’ve grown up there would know about! I am making my to-do list for my next trip through your blog! 🙂

    • Vishakha – will never ask you to put this on the list – might just bring in a lot of disappointment… it was once a fabulous haunt. Took my little girls too. Anyway, if I hadn’t made this trip it would have bothered me more. I guess this is pretty much the story everywhere – moving ‘abroad’!

      Hope to cover Kolkata as much as I would like to – let’s see how it goes. Thanks for all the encouragement:)

  2. great post and lovely pics…but i feel your sense of disappointment…i made my first trip to tiretti bazar recently and was quite underwhelmed though we found 1 or 2 more aunties as we went a bit later…had to take some really tightly framed snaps to get a ‘Chine’ element to the pics…a pity

    • Specially Kalyan if you have been to Tiretti Bazar before then this is going to be a real disappointment. I remember there were so many Chinese stores selling different types of sauces – it’s all gone…

      Anyway am still determined to go to places to show my little girls… but some places you cannot take pictures. Last year I took them to Kumortuli – wasn’t allowed to click pictures:(

  3. breakfast at chinatown is no longer what it used to be. i remember the all nighters at atrium at the park hotel followed by hot paos at this place before going home to sleep into the day.

    something else that a lot of people today might not know is that tiretti bazaar, along with moreh in manipur, was also the center of the opium and heroin trade in india – well before delhi and mumbai took over – for a long time, with bigwigs of the industry making it their base camp in the 80s.

    • I would like to add this very much into the post… d you have any reference? again a tamil friend of mine was saying that tiretti is a tamil word meaning thieves and there were tamil traders here trading various staff like lungi etc… and that’s how it got it’s name…

      thanks for the info Subho. Am always updating my posts with readers’ comments and info I get. Makes so much of a difference!

  4. Sounds great! Still not decided on our Aug. 15 weekend trip, but bookmarking this just in case 🙂 Thanks Ishita.

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  14. I was introduced to this blog by my wife. She recenty moved to Dubai and in her search for other things to do apart from shopping. Was going through your blog when I saw this post on tiretti. Took me back to college days in an instant. Getting up on Sunday or arriving there after a night out. It is truely sad how things are not the same anymore. You be surprised that there are lot of people who have no idea of this place. Thanks to such blogs some people might be tempted to go discover. Who knows it might just revive the place.

    Keep up the work for lazy people like me to be motivated to find others things to do in Dubai apart from shopping.

    • Thanks Joel. Your comment is so heart-warming. At times, I’m thinking, where is the blog leading to? Why am I giving so much of time and effort? I want to share my experiences but is it actually reaching the people… and then comes a comment like yours which makes me realise – Pronto, I’m on the right track. Yes, Tiretti Bazar does hold a major place in my heart. We used to visit the place so often from college. Sometimes have told my parents that I’m going for tutions (hope they are not reading!). Imagine their shock that I’m awake at 6 and running just to eat Momos!

      So, hope your wife has found what she wants… otherwise may I give a link to one of my posts which may show her a few stuff in Dubai apart from Shopping! http://ishitaunblogged.com/2012/07/02/things-to-do-in-dubai-like-a-tourist-in-my-own-city/

      Hope to see you hopping in and stay connected:)

      • Heyy, didnt know about this place till now …
        Will be visiting kolkata after 2 months for the very first time and i m surely gonna can get my hands on some of that chinese breakfast … thanks to you 🙂

        • Hi Ryan! I have to warn you that it’s not what it used to be… only a few dwindling food stalls but definitely worth a visit before all of them are wiped out. Thank you for dropping by and hope you have a wonderful Kolkata visit:)

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  17. Lovely post Ishita. Been to Teritti Bazaar as a child with my father but can’t remember too well. More familiar with the Elgin momos though. That’s where my hubby and I would head for most of our dates before marriage. i am such a momo freak that i would quickly finish mine and keep staring at his plate till he would move some of his to mine. LOL!!

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  20. There is a similar write up in Vimeo called the Fat Mama , try to link up with your blog people will benefit, as your blog has a very wide readership

    Yes they all have gone abroad, or trying and Kolkatta lost one page of its interesting character, in Dubai the China Town and Calcutta Chinese in Bur Dubai, China Garden in Karama are from Kolkatta.

    Chinese in Kolkatta gave rise to interesting culinary line as Indian Chinese

    Mr. Wong of China Garden Mumbai while catering to BCCI invented the Chili Chicken and the Manchurian in the early seventies, these are definitely Indian Chinese dishes popularized through the world by the Indian Diaspora

    • Thank you Utpal…. yes, we do visit Patrick of Imperial Garden fame. Indian Chinese again differs vastly within regions… Mumbai Chinese is a bit different than Kolkata Chinese. Really appreciate the valuable info:)

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  26. Update : Dec 2019:

    Visiting India after a long time and the first place I go to checkout the street food is Tiretti Bazaar @6 AM.

    No more of the Chinese families are selling breakfast here in the mornings. Saw a couple of folks selling some Momos which were generic run of the mill which you find in every nook and corner of the city nowadays. Taste is not even half decent !

    RIP : Chinese Breakfast Momos in Tirreti Bazaar. You will be remembered and sorely missed.


    • I am so saddened to hear that. Even the last time we went, it wasn’t what I remember from my college days. Let’s pray that we can preserve the various communities in Kolkata that so lends the city its unique charm.

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