Tales Of ‘Khansamas’: Now A Forlorn History


Kolkata: History is weaved into the narrow lanes and by-lanes of Kolkata. The roads are usually named after iconic figures. However, connoisseurs of food kept the legacy alive by naming streets after legendary chefs. Many roads have taken a new name, but two of them have retained former ones.

Decades back, the people of Kolkata did not resort to catering services to cook up food during festivities. They used to travel to some places which was once housed the Gordon Ramsays of Kolkata.chokku-khansama

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Chakku Khansama, Panchu Khansama, Chamaru Khansama, Karim Bux Khansama, Nimu Khansama, Mishri Khansama, Piru Khansama and Godai Khansama –these chefs prepped up delicacies and were immensely popular. Nine lanes were named after them. They were believed to have build up their own flavor realm.

Chakku Khansama lane can be spotted in the Amherst Street area. Similary Chamaru Khansama resided in the Park Circus area. Chamaru Khansama shot to fame after serving as chef in the city’s famous occasions.chamru-khansama-lane

But many roads have been conferred a new name. The saga of savouries is now extinct. Panchu Khansama lane is now D.D Mukherjee road. The two roads which stood the test of time are the Chamaru Khansama lane and Chakku Khansama lane.

While taking a stroll along the Chakku Khansama lane, another set of history unfurled. A marble cornerstone in a house numbered 19/3 mentioned that it served as the residence of Rishi Aurobindo back in 1907.chokku-khansama-arvinda

Change is the only constant in the world. The bygones have paved the way for novelty. Lanes and houses have taken up new names. Nirbed Roy, former Publication Officer of the Asiatic Society recollects the predominance of the Khansamas in their respective areas, so much so that people used to locate roads by their names. The renaming of such roads have a left a dent in Mahanagar’s kitchen legacies.

However, writer Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay places a different opinion. He is not a student of History. Hence remains oblivious of the famous Khansamas and that the renaming of such lanes was not needed. He also feels that these Khansamas had no societal roles ever.

The opinions may contradict, but the reminiscence of the Khansamas are kept alive till date by their sumptuous delicacies and rewinding of memories.

Reported By: Debjani Sarkar

Photos By: Shashi Ghosh

Edited By: Ahana Sen Gupta