Terreti Bazaar is a street market so small you could easily walk without realizing it. But for a few hours each morning, a handful of food vendors light steamboats and serve a wide selection of Chinese and Indochinese dishes. Early risers will be rewarded with classics like steamed buns, lap cheongand dumplings or fusion items, such as fish momos, donuts and spicy herb-crusted chicken skewers.
The sellers set up at 5 a.m. Over the next few hours, people gather in front of the steamboats to chat while munching on small plates of food. By 8:00 a.m., most vendors will be sold out, closed, and gone. Those arriving after this time will likely find a market that looks like any other in Calcutta, with new stalls set up to sell fish, meat, and vegetables.
The Chinese community of Kolkata was founded by immigrants who arrived in the late 1700s, who began working as carpenters, tanners and dockworkers. In the 1960s, however, this community faced significant discrimination as tensions mounted between India and China during the Sino-Indian War. Viewing ethnic Chinese residents as potential spies, the Indian government has ordered many Chinese-Indians to leave the country and detained thousands of those who did not comply with the internment camps. As a result of these discriminatory practices, many Chinese-Indian residents of Calcutta and other cities have migrated to countries such as Canada, Australia, and the United States.
The Terreti Bazaar is tiny, perhaps reflecting the shrinking Chinese population of Kolkata, which has shrunk to just a few thousand. As the elderly continue to sell food and work in local shops and businesses, many of the younger generation have made the transition to other careers. As a result, the fleeting morning Terreti Bazaar is one of the few places in Kolkata where you can still find good Indochinese street food.