High Tea – Enjoy it the British way

High Tea – Enjoy it the British way

The impact of British Raj is evident in every facet of life in Calcutta. During winters last year, just before the COVID stuck us all, my England born and brought up sister-in-law visited Calcutta. This was her first visit to the city and she was awestruck.

While returning from here, she emotionally told my husband, "If I ever leave London, I would love to settle in Calcutta!" This is quite a big statement as she is a Punjab origin UK born girl married to a Dutch man for years.

It is this penchant for the British life that gravitated me to try out a high tea on a fine sunny day. For the same, I narrowed down on 'Karma Kettle Tea Room'.

'Karma Kettle Tea Room' is a quaint, classy property run by the Arora family where the lady of the house, Mrs Gita Arora, runs the place with Punjabi hospitality and Bengali creativity, in an English setting.

Located at 4, Swinhoe Street, Ekdalia, Ballygunge, Kolkata, the Karma Kettle Retail and Tea Room is a Tea lovers' paradise offering a vast selection of blended tea along with a variety of continental platters.


Roast Chicken (Rs 550) and Gora Saheb High Tea Set (Rs 500 and serves two). The Gora Sahib High Tea set includes 1 Triple layer sandwich, 2 scones (butter and jam on the side), 2 freshly baked tea cake, 2 tart of the day, 2 spinach, cheese and olive cigar OR scotch egg, 4 premium pyramid tea bags


Due to COVID, I did not go to the eatery but ordered online. The white paper boxes were neatly packed and I liked the idea that plastic boxes were not used. However, they could design better takeaway containers as the world is now moving more towards home delivery of food post the pandemic.


I ordered the good old Chicken Roast for the main course. It was a complete meal in itself - totally soul food. Two decently sized well roasted chicken pieces along with thick brown gravy were neatly packed. It was accompanied by sautéed vegetables and herb rice. The thyme infused tender chicken pieces with their skin on were juicy and the lightly spiced thick British brown gravy complemented it well. The sautéed vegetables consisted a mélange of mushrooms, zucchini and bell peppers which were stir fried in butter with lots of garlic, black pepper and rosemary. The herb rice was very flavourful with finely chopped parsley leaves and a hint of oregano.

The Gora Saheb High Tea Set is enough for two people, with each person getting a Chicken sandwich with potato wafers, lemon tart, one scone, scotch egg and a slice of walnut cake. This was accompanied with honey mustard sauce, whole fresh blue berry compote and butter. The entire spread comes with four types of beautifully curated pyramid tea bags- Istanbul (Green tea with apples, Hibiscus and rose), Benares (Masala Chai), Big Ben (Earl Grey tea with rose petals) and Singalila (Darjeeling Green Tea). Each tea had its own distinct taste and flavour, and I am told that 'Karma Kettle' has an extremely huge variety of beautiful blended teas.

The three-layered sandwich stuffed with cream cheese and cold chicken cuts had distinct flavour of rosemary and bell peppers. The old school potato wafers were thin, covered with a hot spicy mix. The tart had a buttery pastry shell with baked lemon custard filling. It was blissful! The scone was more like the British short bread with a sweet-salty buttery taste and crumbly texture. The scotch egg had a hard-boiled egg wrapped in a chicken cold cut and then deep fried in spices and bread crumbs. It was spicy but perfect for the Indian palate. The walnut cake was soft with small pieces of walnut inside, however was not very fresh.


I absolutely loved that the Roast Chicken was tender and just like the way it is in dining in. In the high tea, the tarts, blueberry compote and scotch eggs were beautifully done. Other items were fine, not exceptional.


If you ever want a quaint private British High Tea at home at 4pm on any lazy day, the Gora Sahib High Tea from Karma Kettle is yours. Elaborate, tasty and typically British; the High Tea is surely to bring back British nostalgia to all the anglophiles in Calcutta, like my husband, who is a British by many accounts.

Overall, the place is highly recommended for quality tea and delicious accompaniments, the Raj style!

(The columnist is a food connoisseur who loves experimenting with culinary delights and a career bureaucrat in the IRS Income Tax)

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