One fine morning while going to office I asked husband-man how about taking Pasta to a Pice Hotel; she needs to experience and cherish the real Mach-bhat er hotel after all and he started laughing. I didn’t even tell him the name of the hotel but he knew it that I was referring to Hotel Sidheswari Ashram. The flashback of our college days came back when he was in Jadavpur University and was battling with the architecture course and I was about to finish my masters’ in Rural Development at Kalyani university. That was the time when we just were friends; used to discuss our respective partners at that time and used to explore the area near New Market just as friends. Our lunch at that time was mandatorily at Hotel Sidheswari Ashram as that was what we could afford at that time with our limited pocket money and the types and amount of food (read mach- bhat and more served there). Somehow, destiny was laughing at us as at that time the story turned 360 degrees and we became the partners in every possible crime in life but the visit there at Hotel Sidheswari Ashram remain same. Coming back, to present day we didn’t discuss much that day but decided to take Pasta ( our daughter) to one of the famous Pice Hotel in Kolkata 4 days after that; and it happened to be Bengali New year that day. We were not sure whether she’s going to like the place or not, going to like to food or not but heredity has its role to play after all and we found the little lady enjoying everything there and we were relieved!
Coming back to the Hotel Sidheswari Ashram, this is one of Kolkata’s famous, almost roadside hotel (yes hotel but not a restaurant) that serves simple Bengali staple with Bengali sides with the price unbelievably on the lower side. The concept of Pice Hotel is nothing new in West Bengal and the term Pice is probably came from “Paisa” and Pice hotels are famous for serving low-cost Bengali Food and the speciality is always the limited use of spices so that one can have the food on regular basis there without compromising the health alike homecooked food. In fact, Siddheswari Ashram Hotel is famous for their “Kabiraji Jhol” which is an amalgamation of veggies and a famous one in Bengali households. To be very frank I don’t have any first-hand details available that is related to the evaluation of Pice hotels but it seems these hotels came into existence when there was a need of Bengali homestyle food by the lower middle class or middle class or working class Bengali who used to came to the city for their living and were not able to cook for themselves. If we take Hotel Sidheswari Ashram for consideration, it was established in 1925 which means these hotels are in existence probably from 100 years back.
I have been there at Hotel Sidheswari Ashram several times and in fact, the area nearby, to be precise the spice market at jan bazar is my favourite for utilising my camera and to click spices! Well, it does not matter how bad photographer I am 😉 . As I have mentioned last time we were there on Bengali New year with our daughter and the food that day was a bit elaborative and we did order our favourites there. Now, even the famous Pice hotel is also included an AC room there and the rush was something to cherish for! We waited for around 45 minutes before getting a table for 4 and the staff seem hugely busy managing the crowd. Our order includes their general thali of Sada Bhat (plain rice), Daal, Aloo Bhaja and one plate each of Dhonkar Dalna, Mochar Ghonto, Potol Posto, Enchor Chingri, Tyangra Macher Jhal, Ilish Macher Jhal, Khasir Mangsho, Aamer Ambol and their Poila Baishakh special Kulfi. To be very frank, Khasir Mangsho (mutton curry) is not their speciality ( I’ll write about the Pice hotel that serves good Mangsho soon) but the fish items were worth having. Both Enchor Chingri and Mochar Ghonto were good while the Dhokar Dalna was average. Last but not the least the Aamer Ambol was to dying for and for all those we ended on paying INR 1100. This probably is the beauty of a Pice hotel.
I was not able to click good pictures on that day given I was busy feeding my little one and she enjoyed every bit of the food. We may have achieved a bit of materialistic success in life but there are few things that money cannot buy and we both believe it is our duty to show the little one the beauty of the city that is in our vein. Pasta enjoyed her first visit to the city of Joy’s famous Pice hotel and her parents are now planning for the next trip to another heritage food joint to make her accustomed to the food culture of the city; after all she has to take the baton of Riley from her foodie parents to take the legacy forward!
- Hotel Sidheswari Ashram
- Type: Bengali Pice Hotel
- Address: 19, Rani Rash Moni Rd, Janbazar, Taltala, Kolkata, West Bengal
- Cost for Two: INR 500-600