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.
Puri chole at Kanha Sweets
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.
Aam pappad chaat at Ram Lubhaya & Sons
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?
Flat Gulab Jamun at Sharma Sweet Shop
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.
Mathhi channa at Vaishno Bhojan Bhandar
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.
Kesar Lassi and Phirni with rabri at Ahuja’s Milk Products & Sweets
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.
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.
Amritsari Fish at Amar Fish
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.
Amritsari kulcha at Monu Kulcha Hut
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.
Tandoori mutton at Bittu Meat Wala
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.
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.
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.