Amritsar lies in the heart of Punjab and is home to the iconic Golden Temple. It beckons travellers from all over the world in search of healing and happiness, a voice in the wind to tell them that everything will be alright.
Not only is it the home of the Sikh religion, but Amritsar is also a culinary capital of India that seems to be shadowed by other cities. This is what we recommend, if paet puja(stomach worship) is on top of your priority list.
1. Guru Ka Langar
If the Golden Temple is number one on your list, we strongly suggest you partake in the Guru Ka Langar.Langar is a community feast prepared in a kitchen within the temple premises on a large scale (for at least 40,000 people). Everybody is welcome and is seated in rows while they are served by volunteers. The devotion of service to community is absolutely tear jerking. Jostling with other devotees and visitors for a taste of Kada Prasad is worth it, considering that it has a taste like no other. Maybe it’s because discrimination and inequality are things that are not tolerated within the walls of the temple.
2. Bharawan Da Dhaba
If being in Punjab makes you crave those stereotypical Punjabi delights, you’ve come to the right place. Makki ki roti with sarson da saag, stuffedkulchas (potatoes or paneer) withchhole are just some things that they do better than any place in Delhi or London.
Do keep in mind, Bharawan is “pure veg” due to their close proximity to the Golden Temple. But don’t let that hamper your decision just because you’re a hardcore meat-eater. The kebabs can wait.
3. Paya at Pal Da Dhaba
Probably not something you would get used to, but hooves are a delicacy and we know just the place. Located near the Hathi Gate, the Dhaba is run by its proprietor who is also the iron chef in the kitchen.
A simple broth spiced with garam masala, chilli and lentil leaves and generously blessed with pieces of hooves, the dish is best paired with kheema paratha, although it breaks into a million pieces in your hand.
4. Chicken Tikka Tandoori, Beera Chicken Corner
Featured on the popular television series Highway On My Plate, Beera’s isn’t fancy but the food is divine! Seating is limited, so if you plan to enjoy it in your car, your hosts would be most obliged to serve you.
The Chicken Tikka is perfectly spiced and goes well with a keeema naan. If things get too dry, a spicy gravy accompaniment is offered for free and you can always get your own booze.
5. Mutton Chaap, Adarsh Meat Shop
Finding this place might a be bit of a challenge, but if you get to C-Block Market Complex near Rose Garden, the locals will know what you’re looking for. Your frustration might double as you’ll have to queue up to make an order. But seriously, it is worth the wait. Shallow fried and slow cooked, the tender succulent meat comes right off the rib with a spicy and sour flavour. Do try the mutton tikka if you’re still drooling after the chaap.
6. Ahuja Lassi
These guys are the benchmark for, you guessed it, Lassi (duh).
Situated near the Hindu College and Durgiana Temple, every autowallah knows how to get here so you’re not alone. Churned the way lassi is, the Ahuja’s secret ingredient is a natural essence the many patrons still cannot decipher. The original lassi is hands down the best so far, and we suggest a tall steel glass of it first thing in the morning.
7. Bheja Fry, Mame Da Dhaba
Two words. Goat brains. Ewww for some, yum for many. The proprietor, who calls himself ‘mama’, will chop the brain and fry it with spices and herbs. There’s no curry and the dish retains an original colour. It melts in the mouth with a hint of spice. Paired with naan and dollops of butter, you’ll down this combo in no time!
8. Jalebi, Sharma Sweet Shop
Gigantic and not-so-syrupy, the crunchiness makes their jalebis all the more fun to eat.
9. Fruit cream and Kulfa, Hall Bazaar
The former is a shaved ice-like concoction of fruit, cream and dry fruit. It is served in a huge portion but no one can have enough. Kulfa is the Amritsari cousin of the more familiar Kulfi, which is an ice cream of sorts, topped with spaghetti-like falooda.
10. Pinni, Kanha Sweets
Pinni are sweetmeats or laddoomade from lentil and jaggery and are a popular souvenir from Amritsar. Kanha Sweets also has amazinghalwas and besan laddoos.
11. Gajar Ka Halwa, Novelty Sweets
Bluntly chopped and not as pretty as you’d imagine, this Gajar ka halwa caught my surprise. It wasn’t too sweet nor was it dripping with ghee, the carrots had a sweet and tangy taste that most halwas are generally deprived off due to khoya.