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Postcard from... Kolkata


There are surely grander places to eat in Kolkata, but there are few where the food is so delicious. Or where the simple pleasure of eating benefits such a worthy cause.

The All Bengal Women’s Union was established in 1932 to help and support victimised and vulnerable women. It provided homes, jobs and training for women from less fortunate backgrounds, of which Kolkata has always known large numbers.

One of the projects is the Suruchi canteen. Not only does this simple restaurant earn the charity some money, but it also provides practical training  for the women who work and cook there. It has been featured in a number of television food shows.

One recent lunchtime I took a wheezing black and yellow taxi to the location at 89 Elliot Road.  There was no menu but a waitress helped with the order – rice, lentils and the Bengali favourite bhekti (barramundi) steamed in banana leaves with mustard sauce. A soft drink and a traditional desert completed the meal.

The food took around ten minutes to arrive as I sat and listened to the noises from outside.  It was delicious, particularly the  fish.

The total came to Rs288 (about £2.80). I stepped outside feeling very well-fed and very privileged.