Skewers of kebab, lathered with fiery red masala; platters of steaming biryani or halwa; pomegranate-tinted glasses of Rooh Afza; and stalls peddling breads, biscuits and dry fruits—to say iftar is a feast is an understatement.
In India, iftar is cue for the by-lanes of Lucknow, Delhi, Mumbai and several other cities to spring to life, their transformation into nocturnal beasts, throbbing with the mad energy of Indian festivals sudden yet seamless. While for Muslims, the holy month of Ramzan is about praying and fasting—long days of abstinence culminating in the sensory abundance of Eid ki dawat—for many others, it is code for a food-state-of-mind.
This is especially true for the gourmands of Calcutta. Around central Calcutta’s Zakaria Street, and the neighbouring Nakhoda Masjid, the city’s largest mosque, the air is rich with aroma and anticipation. Long before ‘food pop-up’ entered the lexicon of cool, Zakaria Street cradled makeshift stalls stacked with annual offerings of lachha and sutli kebabs. Over the decades, it has fostered friendships between food lovers and their first spoonful of haleem, between amateur photographers and rainbow frames of falooda, Rs25 a plate only.
In this photo story, Rana Pandey finds his way into the carnival, stringing together moments of quiet, clemency and tongue-crackling indulgence.