Connoisseur of Flavours Around the Corner

Surrounded by a humble mob of his many fans, he skillfully went about doing what he did best – preparing incredibly delicious ‘Jhal Muri’!
Around the corner, on the busy Ezra Street, Sharad mans a stall that sells one of Kolkata’s favourite snack. Made with puffed rice, assortment of spices, vegetables, bhujia and his special ingredient called attentiveness; the Muri that he made was hard to replicate. πŸ™‚

Sharad, a hawker in Kolkata's Ezra street who makes a living selling a popular Bengali snack
Sharad selling Muri, at Ezra Street

The smile on his face that reflected a hint of pride caught my eye. So it was true, what mum said; Sharad’s father was himself a favourite amongst the residents of the locality and people flocked to him on evenings to satiate their mid-day cravings.

The familiarity of a large number of people with Sharad and his father, spoke volumes about the legacy that he had inherited.
I waited patiently for my Muri as mummy and Sharad continued with their enthusiastic chat, recalling fond memories of mummy visiting Sharad’s father as a child for Muri treats.

Enticed by the display of the flavourful ingredients, I couldn’t wait to have a fill of some freshly-made Muri. As I spoke, aroma of the spices made the task of paying attention to the conversation all the more challenging. I admit to having a soft corner for this light yet tasty snack!

Watching him effortlessly prepare ‘Muri’ was fascinating. I felt compelled to capture the moments. Seeking permission, I asked – ‘Can I click some pictures?’ to which he gladly obliged and said with a coy smile- ‘Bhabhi ka bhi le lo’ (Click a picture of my wife too!)

Sharad’s wife assisted him and took care of the stall in his absence. A relentless support, she was the backbone behind the success of his venture.

Within minutes of our conversations, my Muri was now ready-to-eat. I finally relished the taste after a significantly long time! It was perfect! Sweetness exactly how much I liked, with a generous amount of roasted peanuts, perfected with a drizzle of mustard oil! This was more than just ‘Muri’, it was a journey, back to my childhood.

How could he simply know what each one of his regular visitors want? To think of it there are so many permutations and combinations of blending the variety of ingredients to prepare one snack. Less sweet-more tangy; more spicy-less sweet; tangy but not spicy at all and more. The perfection that he had attained in preparing variations of the snack, made him nothing less than a fine connoisseur of flavours! He had over the years mastered the Science of flavours. How the taste being predominant for people, it was essentially in fact, influenced by the aromas of the ingredients. Not only limited to jhal muri, he had an opinion about flavours for all types of food. I could almost think of him to be a professional food taster! πŸ™‚

Noticing the smile on my face, he handed a few roasted peanuts as a note of acknowledgement, just how is father used to! πŸ™‚ No wonder, more than gathering anecdotes about his him from him, it was the people around who couldn’t stop gushing about how fond they are of him and his dad. Even after years, they still remember his father who was fondly called ‘Mamu’ (maternal uncle).

His stall has been an ageless spot for friends to share a light-hearted evening chat, for students of the nearby school to discuss their post-exam analysis and a stop to take some rest for the weary labourers. Witnessing many stories and seasons, Sharad’s stall sells more than just ‘Muri’ πŸ™‚

I’ve had ‘Muri’ countless times before, but today’s experience left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling of bonding with the ones who bring us life’s small happiness!

Hawker selling jhal muri at Kolkata's Ezra Steet
Sharad at his Happiness Station with his Wife

28 thoughts on “Connoisseur of Flavours Around the Corner

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  1. Your post comes across as fresh, crisp and tangy as the ‘Muri’ you have so deliciously described! It was heartening to read how Sharad has carried on his father’s business, even the small token of delighting customers with the few extra roasted peanuts.

    No wonder he has such loyal customers like you mom. Jhal-muri is a hot favourite across Bengal and is sold not only on the street corners, but also on local and short distance express trains that run in and out of Kolkata.

    Reading your post has evoked the nostalgia of my growing up days in Kolkata to the taste of ‘Muri’, just as the joy of your ‘Muri’ experience is oozing out of every line of your post!

    Thank you for writing on one of the most loved street snacks of Bengal !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sayan! 😊 it’s delightful to read your comments always.

      While the entire city of Kolkata does sell Muri, what makes the ones in Burrabazar area unique is the special Chutney made with sattoo. Hard to find in any other area of Kolkata.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are right, and that must be to cater to the taste buds of the considerably large Bihari community which stays in and around that area.

        Also, have you paid attention to the sound of the ‘Muri’ rolling and mixing inside the can or bowl as it is being prepared and the occasional metal ‘ting’ of the spoon as the spices are thrown in ?! That’s music to the ears for any street food lover πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoying reading your tales. We too had a favourite sev puri wala who used to come at 4 pm on the dot under my Nani’s building. I swear no other sev puri wala made better Sev puri than him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Suchita! I’m so glad the theme resonates with your memories, that was one of the reasons for me to choose this theme 😊 Isn’t it wonderful how childhood memories become irreplaceable as we grow up. No matter how good a present day Pani puri or bhel wala will be…the childhood memory still shines through. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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