HOGG Market, KOLKATA: While we’re mesmerised with the top-notch quality of HD ingredients on all those cookery shows, the failure to find such ingredients in the Desi Indian market is crippling for those of us who want to re-create such culinary joys. Taking only herbs into account, we hear about Rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage, basil, dill and what not and we see Jamie Oliver put these herbs into his dishes right out of the home-grown plants. I mean, how unlucky we can be! While some of these herbs are available internationally in dried form, like they can beat the fresh thing! finding all of these herbs and spices among other exotic produce in one place is a rarity.
Tension not my friend! if you’re from Kolkata or nearby regions and a lover of good-cooking you must already know about the Hogg Market in new market, Kolkata and if you’re not you’ll just come to know about it right now.
To reach Hogg Market, get down at the Park street Metro, take the exit towards the grand hotel. Once out of the metro station, ask the first person you can get hold of in the crowd. You’ll reach the Hogg market in the next 5 mins.
Once you reach the market, you’d be more awed than Alice was when she arrived in the ‘wonderland’. Named after Sir Stuart Hogg of the British Era, the Hogg Market with its Gothic buildings is a bustling marketplace and has small stalls selling a plethora of items, ranging from from food products to clothes. However, I’ll talk about my favourite subject- ‘food’.
‘Everything Under the Sun’ can be found in the hogg market when it comes to food products. There is a dedicated part of the market for bakery products, selling traditional marzipan, brownies, mushrooms, etc. If you’re the kind who likes to bake, you’ll find a host of items like chocolate compounds- dark and white, vanilla sticks, every dry fruit there is and what not. If you are a cook and don’t find traditional spices, here you will not only find all such spices but also find varieties and grades of each spice, if there are any. I, for instance, found 3 different grades of Cinnamon. Additionally, I discovered spices that I never even heard about. It was here that I found that before the advent of artificial food colours RatanJog was traditionally used to add the characteristic colour to the Rogan Josh and the Chicken Tandoori.
All this hype I’ve created here doesn’t even match up to my excitement when I found the likes of schezwan pepper, fresh rosemary sprigs, thyme, dill and sage for sale in this market. There is also a dedicated fruits section where sellers in addition to the indian fruits sell the exotic fruits. There I could just stare blankly at those fruits from foreign lands, the Indonesian Dragon Fruit seemed the most peculiar to me. As if I could only handle another shot of the ‘exoticness’ of these ingredients, I stepped into section to find iceberg lettuce, zuchini, tomato cherries and a few other vegetables that I saw in another TV show at Fox Traveller, Food Safari. While making an exhaustive list of ingredients available at the Hogg Market would be a very difficult task, I assure you that it would be very rare that you don’t find an ingredient over here.
One might ask that these products might also be available in departmental stores such as spencer, modern bazar etc, but the fact of the matter is getting the kind of variety that Hogg market as an aggregation of smaller sellers offers is unmatchable. The prices at the Hogg market are the ones of wholesale, so yeah! you save some money, and most importantly you don’t get the excitement of hunting for ingredients for your culinary unravelling in an air-conditioned shopping complex. This is a rustic open air market and it is here that you get a step closer to the adventurer that you truly are.