Foodies Paradise Amritsar
Amritsar, city, northern Punjab state, northwestern India. It lies about 15 miles (25 km) east of the border with Pakistan. Amritsar is the largest & most important city in Punjab and is a major commercial, cultural, and transportation centre. It is also the centre of Sikhism and the site of the Sikhs’ principal place of worship—Shri Harmandir Sahib Ji , or Golden Temple.
First we eat, then we do everything else – M.F.K. Fisher.
This is definitely true in the case of Punjabis who are true gourmets. To them food is everything, and no one can savour the fatty delicacies in all its true splendour like a Punjabi does! The culinary capital of India-Amritsar is a proof of this fact. Everything in this city revolves around food-be it socializing, prayer or festivals. Kulchas, lassi, jalebi, you name it and it will be found in Amritsar. No where perhaps is the love of rich, hearty and desi ghee-laden food more pronounced than in the holy city of Amritsar. You could say food is the second-biggest attraction here, after the Golden Temple (Shri Harmandir Sahib JI ).
In a city that has lent its name to iconic dishes, from kulchas to fish tikkas, and where scores of establishments do great imitations of the originals, deciding what to try and finding the best places to do so could be overwhelming. So, we’ve rounded up with a list that’ll tide you through the day or several. Take your pick.
When in Amritsar, start out with the Shri Harmandir Sahib ji . The best time to visit is during the morning when the Guru Granth Sahib JI is brought to the inner sanctum. After offering your prayers, head over to the langar, the largest free kitchen in the world! The volunteers here cook and serve a simple meal of dal, roti, sabzi and kheer to lakhs of devotees each day. Even if you don’t have the time for langar, don’t leave the Kara Prasad on your way out. You will have to jostle among a large crowd for this ghee-laden delicacy but a bite of it will prove to be totally worth it!
World Famous Amritsari kulchas
The choice of breakfast in Amritsar also happens to be the most famous dish to be originated in the city. Amritsar is synonymous with Kulchas, the maida bread baked in a tandoor. Amritsari Kulcha is stuffed with potato or cottage cheese and baked to a golden crisp in the tandoor. The hot kulchas are crumbled by hand until flaky and topped with a generous helping of desi ghee. Served with a side of chole and spicy chutney, kulchas are a must-have. While most spots serve this dish, Kulcha Land has some of the best. Operational since before the Partition in Lahore and later in Amritsar, they has been dishing out this delight for four generations now.
Where: Kulcha Land, District Shopping Centre, Ranjit Avenue
Chole puri and pinni
If you wish to try another Punjabi breakfast staple, head over to Kanha Sweets. The puris are fried in pure ghee, and served with chole and a tangy potato curry. They also serve pinnis to satiate your sweet cravings. Prepared with lentil and jaggery, pinnis are rich and delectable, and make for great gifts to take back home.
Where: Kanha Sweets, Opp. BBK DAV College, Dayanand Nagar
From mango to kesar, the lassi at Ahuja’s, available in a variety of flavours, is an Amritsari favourite. The lassis here are so creamy and thick in texture that you often need a spoon to scoop it out. Oh, and even the lassis in Amritsar are served with a dollop of butter.
Where: Ahuja Milk Bhandar, BK Dutt Gate, Dhab Khatikan, Katra Ahluwalia
Makki di roti te sarson da saag
A winter speciality, the smooth and ghee-soaked saag is made of mustard leaves fresh off the farm, and is served with wholesome corn-flour rotis at Bharawan da Dhaba. Located in the old town, which is a 10-minute walk from the Golden Temple, Bharawan da Dhaba has been around since 1912, and serves some great vegetarian fare.
Where: Bharawan da Dhaba, Near Town Hall
Mah ki dal
If there’s one eatery in Amritsar that rivals all others in popularity, it’s the hole-in-the-wall Kesar da dhaba. Founded in 1916 in Sheikhupura, Pakistan, and then reopened in Amritsar after the Partition, this legendary dhaba has hosted the who’s who of India, from Lala Lajpat Rai and Jawaharlal Nehru to Rajesh Khanna and Yash Chopra. The specialty here is the mah ki dal—a preparation of whole black gram lentils that is simmered for 12 hours and served with lachcha paratha or butter naan.
Where: Kesar da Dhaba, Chowk Passian, Near Telephone Exchange
Amritsari fish tikka
Amritsar is not all about vegetarian food. The fish tikkas here are fresh, perfectly spiced and sprinkled with masala. Another must try here is the fried sangara (fried fish), enjoyed best with beer.
Where: Makhan Fish and Chicken Corner, 21A, Near Madaan Hospital Makhan Chowk, Majitha Rd
Ghee roast chicken
A stone’s throw from Makhan, Beera Chicken House is another must-visit for non-vegetarian food. The whiff of roasted chicken being basted with pure ghee lingers around even before you reach here. The ambience is spartan, but the taste of the ghee roasted chicken, with a texture so soft that it falls off the bones, will more than make up for it.
Where: Beera Chicken House, Shop – 100 opposite Bhandari hospital, Majitha Rd
Some of the best joints in Amritsar are decrepit structures tucked away from your sight. Adarsh, too, belongs to the same brigade. The long queues, though, are a giveaway. The wait is worth it, when you finally get your hands on a plate of their mutton chaap—slow cooked, shallow fried, spicy, tangy, and tender.
Where: Adarsh Meat Shop, C Block, Ranjit Avenue
From the dish to the way it’s put together, everything served at A-One Kulfa is a work of art. Kulfas, the ‘big brother’ of the kulfi, are made with a layer of phirni, topped with scoops of kulfi and falooda, some gond (edible gum), and a dash of syrup and kewra (rose water). It is finished with some rabri.
Where: A-One Kulfa, 3, Queens Rd, Crystal Chowk, INA Colony
You have to have the gulab jamun here to believe how good they are.They just melt in your mouth . Even the Jalebis were very good.
Where : Sharma Sweets
An easy-to-miss rundown shop, Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wala has only two things on its menu—gulab jamuns and jalebis. But it does such a good job with the both of them that you’ll find it hard to choose. The jalebis, though, are a sure win. Fried piping hot in a wok full of desi ghee and dipped in a syrup that is just the right amount of sweet, the jalebis are a good way to end your culinary adventures.
Where: Gurdas Ram Jalebi Wala, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar
A truly memorable taste and a delightful variant of the ever popular Amritsari aam papad. Soft, succulent and chewy aam papad, made of fresh raw mango pulp and rolled in strips… Its ultimate sour tangy taste is mind blowing and will make you go weak in your knees.
Where : Lubhaya Aam Papad