Best dishes to try in Amritsar

Amritsari Kulcha is a must-have
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

Tasted the dal and parantha at Kesar Da Dhaba? Tucked into tandoori chicken at Beera Chicken and jalebis at Gurudas Ram Jalebiwala? Now explore other enticing options waiting to be discovered in nooks and corners of Amritsar, a city that celebrates food like no other. On a food tour with Windsong B&B, a charming bed and breakfast just outside the city, I was astonished to find the sheer variety on offer. Come follow me to indulge in some culinary excess at dhabas and eateries that date back generations and where the focus is not ambience but just great food.

Tea at Giani Tea Stall
Buzzing from 5am till about midnight, it’s a tradition to stop at Giani’s on the way to the Golden Temple for a cup of tea while munching on omelettes, butter toast and kachoris. Even though it is 20 minutes away by car, it is  an ideal stop for teaholics – after all it is the best tea in town. Watch it brew in a large vessel before the tea maker pours milk from top and gives it a good stir before serving it in a glass. Started in 1955, it has hosted many celebrities.
Cooper Road, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Nagar, Company Bagh

Cream rolls and biscuits at Modern Bakery
A bakery may be the last place you want to visit in the land of desi ghee, but believe us, once you bite into that cream roll, there’s no looking back. The roll, baked in a traditional clay oven, is super crisp while the soft and fluffy, not-so-sweet cream simply melts in the mouth. It’s the best cream roll in the city. Period. Watch it being made fresh if you reach in the morning. Don’t leave without trying their almond biscuits and picking up a loaf of milk bread.
Circular Road

Puri chole at Kanha Sweets

Breakfast of puri chole at Kanha Sweets
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

Any foodie knows where to head for the most heavenly puri and chole in town – it’s none other than Kanha Sweets. The fluffy, peethi puris, with a thin layer of stuffing, arrive with tangy aloo curry known as laungi, delicious chole and a dollop of dark red, gur ka halwa. No full stops here – the server gives you as many puris, which look like mini footballs, as you want. The pinni and besan ladoo here is equally famous.
Lawrence Road

Satpura at KH Sweets
The taste buds tingle at the crackle when you break this seven layerd puff pastry. Filled with a very thin layer of spicy potatoes, it is absolutely delicious and very crisp, basically a much cruchier and tastier version of the popular samosa.
Lawrence Road

Aam pappad chaat at Ram Lubhaya & Sons

The delicious aam papad chaat
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

This institution since 1972 makes the most delicious aam papad chaat. They cut about seven varieties of aam pappad into small pieces, then sprinkle a special salt with 12 spices and add a dash of lime. Its sweet, tangy, spicy – an explosion of flavours in your mouth. And did we mention that it’s a great digestive for all that food you’ve just had?
Lawrence Road

Flat Gulab Jamun at Sharma Sweet Shop

Flat gulab jamuns are a speciality at Sharma's
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

This small stall has surely aced the gulab jamun. The khoya is so rich that it transports you to the days when full-fat, rich and creamy milk made the most heavenly desserts. Slightly flat in shape, it is dished out in mini sizes as well, and before you know it, you’ve gobbled down a dozen or so.
Lawrence Road

Mathhi channa at Vaishno Bhojan Bhandar

Bheega kulcha, also known as 'stinky' kulchas
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

Skip the puri or bhatura and have the super soft chole, patiently cooked for six hours, with some crisp matthi instead. It’s an unusual combination that works beautifully and is topped with spicy channa, onion, amla and lemon. You can even try the bowale kulche or bheega kulcha which is slightly smelly because of the double fermented dough called “khameer” that’s used. These are slso known as ‘stinky’ kulchas.
Basant Avenue

Kesar Lassi and Phirni with rabri at Ahuja’s Milk Products & Sweets

You cannot leave Ahuja without trying the Phirni
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

A tall lassi glass can take out every inch of heat and exhaustion from your body. There may be many lassi shops across the city, but nothing can beat the rich, thick, kesar lassi served here. Wading through the saffron-flavoured layer of cream on top and finally reaching the lassi, is an achievement. It is prepared using a 1964 recipe that they have refused to tweak to suit the weight wathcers. If you have room left, try their phirni and rabri as well – they are super too.
Basant Avenue

Gola and lemon soda at Ram Karan Cool Spot
Locals swear by this place and fondly used to call it their version of ‘Mocha Café. The sheer variety of chuskis and golas you get in this hidden spot is mind boggling. From rose, kala khatta, chocolate, green mint to imli, the flavours are very unique. And if you want to skip the popsicle, try the squash or lemon soda.
Maqbool Road

Amritsari Fish at Amar Fish

Amritsari fish cannot be skipped
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

In the land of five rivers, it is no surprise that fish is one of their legendary dishes – of course deep fried, Punjabi style. Coated with a batter of carom seeds (ajwain), gram flour (besan) and sometimes chickpea flour, these deep fried beauties occupy a proud place in the menu. Many will vouch that Makhan fish is the best place for this delicacy, but do give Amar Fish corner a try and decide for yourself. The crunch when you bite into it and the dash of freshly squeezed lime on the sweet water fish is unforgettable.
Raja Sansi

Amritsari kulcha at Monu Kulcha Hut

The crisp and crunchy kulcha
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

What can I tell you about a kulcha that’s not been said before? It’ crisp, flaky, soft from the inside, layered with ghee and butter and stuffed with a delightful potato filling that melts in your mouth when you take that first bite. Taken out hot from the tandoor and slathered with a layer of butter, they arrive piping hot at your table. Dunk it in channa and hear the sound of the kulcha crackle as you break it the first time – that crackle is the test of a well-made kulcha. Some places even crush the kulcha a bit to let the butter trickle down onto the other layers. Enjoy the sinful journey.
Loharka Road

Tandoori mutton at Bittu Meat Wala

The smoky tandoori mutton
Image courtesy: Pallavi Pasricha

One of the few places in the city that does mutton burra, it’s a great option for hardcore meat lovers. The smokiness adds to its flavour of spiced mutton pieces that are slowly roasted in a tandoor.
Jahajgarh

Mutton Chaapli at Adarsh Meat Shop
The place is famous for this dish — shallow fried mutton made flat on a tawa and served piping hot.
Ranjit Avenue

Fruit cream at Sukhram Fruit Ice Cream & Juice Bar

You might think that in a city heavily dominated by Indian desserts, fruit cream may be a no-winner, but that’s not the case in Amritsar. The hand beaten, light cream mixed with a range of fruits is gentle on your stomach and not sickeningly heavy. A few nuts hidden in the cream give it a great crunchiness.

Lawrence Road

AUTHOR'S BIO: A traveller and foodie at heart, Pallavi Pasricha has explored many destinations across the world. But that never seems to be enough and she’s always ready to hit the road again. Her obsession for travel is combined with a love for photography. She is working as the Digital and Community Editor at Lonely Planet India.

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