Terreti Bazaar is a street market so tiny that you could easily walk right by without noticing. But for a few hours each morning, a handful of food vendors fire up steamers and serve a wide selection of Chinese and Indo-Chinese foods. Early risers will be rewarded with classics like steamed buns, lap cheong, and dumplings or fusion items, such as fish momos, fritters, and spicy, herb-crusted chicken kabobs.
Vendors set up as early as 5:00 a.m. Over the next several hours, people gather in front of the steamers to chat while snacking on small plates of food. By 8:00 a.m., most vendors will have sold out, closed up shop, and left. Those who arrive after this time will likely find a market that looks like any other in Kolkata, with new stalls setting up to sell fish, meat, and vegetables.
Kolkata’s Chinese community was founded by immigrants who arrived in the late 1700s, taking up work as carpenters, tanners, and dock workers. In the 1960s, however, this community faced significant discrimination, as tensions rose between India and China during the Sino-Indian War. Considering ethnic Chinese residents as potential spies, the Indian government ordered many Chinese-Indians to leave the country and held thousands of those who did not comply in internment camps. As a result of these discriminatory practices, many Chinese-Indian residents of Kolkata and other cities emigrated to countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United States.
The Terreti Bazaar is tiny, perhaps reflecting the shrinking of Kolkata’s ethnic Chinese population, which has decreased to only a few thousand. While older people continue selling foods and working in local shops and trades, many of the younger generation have transitioned into other careers. As a result, the fleeting morning Terreti Bazaar is one of the few places in Kolkata where you can still find great Indo-Chinese street food.