I tried really hard to make the title catchy, but clearly that didn’t work. It can only go uphill from here, right? Anyway, let’s get to the point. A couple of weeks ago, some of my friends and I went to Amritsar in Punjab with the sole (or should I say soul? No?) purpose of eating. Well, we did visit the famous Golden Temple and the infamous Jallianwallah Bagh, but that’s besides the point. I’d like to dedicate this article to the three wonderful people with whom I took this trip – Vikrant, our guide-cum-driver, without whose Lancer and love this trip would not have been possible; Dikshita, the anal-retentive planner, because of whose obsessive planning and diligent room-booking, this trip went without a glitch; and Aditi, with whom I did the “travel” part of travelling and with whom I shared a room and the back seat and a love for bindis. You guys were the best! Much love to you.
From far left: Me, Aditi, Vikrant, and Dikshita.
The point, of this article is that if you leave four gluttons in a car with a wad of cash, at least three of them would’ve gained some weight by the end of it. Anyway, because we covered a fair few number of places (emphasis not on few) during the course of the almost four days that we were in Amritsar, the “vivid gastronomical experience” is going to be covered in two posts. Find Part 2 here.
We reached Amritsar during the later part of the day, so the first meal we had in this city was dinner. At Sardar Dhaba, where we devoured seekh kabab (spiced minced lamb cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor) and keema naan (Indian bread stuffed with minced mutton). The keema naan, for me, was the highlight of the trip. For the first time, I believed in love at first sight. Actually, at first taste (get your mind out of the gutter). The naans were crisp, to the point where you could actually hear the crunch as you bit into it. It came halved, with green chutney, keema curry, and little knobs of butter. The keema was well-cooked and well-flavoured. Merely writing about it is making me drool about a small ocean. This, for me, was the clear winner. It had me with the crunch. That was all I needed. One crunch, and I was swooning.
Keema Naan at Sardar Dhaba.
The seekh kabab was also absolutely splendid. It was soft, succulent, and just perfectly spicy. Traditionally, it is eaten with a buttery, soft kulcha (a form of bread), but we enjoyed it better plain. Oh, we also enjoyed the kulcha better plain. I wanted to serenade the kabab with a love song. It was unlike any other seekh kabab I’d ever had. It was also the best seekh kabab I’d ever had. So far, so good.
Seekh kababs at Sardar Dhaba.
So the next morning, Aditi and I had to get up (not so) nice and early, because we’d planned to visit the Golden Temple and Jallianwallah Bagh before breakfast. We were ravenous by the time we came back, and went to Kanha Sweets for breakfast. We had poori-subji (fried Indian flatbread with curried potatoes). The pooris were served with channa (spicy chickpea curry), aloo, and some form of chutney topped with onions. The channa was amazing. It was spicy, the channas were cooked to perfection, and it tasted amazing with the pooris. The highlight of this dish, though, was the aloo (potatoes), because at first glance, it looked like regular, savoury aloo as is usually served with poori, but looks can be deceiving, because this aloo was sweet. It was flavoured with gur (jaggery – think brown, concentrated sugar) and dotted with pumpkin seeds. The first few hits felt weird, because like I said, we’re used to spicy potatoes, but the taste grew on me very quickly. The others didn’t like it so much, but I loved it, and went for multiple helpings. Breakfast was accompanied with lassi (a thick, sweet yogurt drink), which tasted divine, but because of the presence of malai (cream of the crop) in it, the texture of it, I abhorred. I hate malai. Detest it. There was also some form of halwa (sweet) we ordered afterwards, but again, it wasn’t as good. The pooris, though. *sighs*
Poori-Subji at Kahna Sweets
Lassi and halwa at Kanha Sweets.
For lunch, we went over to Beera Chicken to have their famous tandoori chicken. Now, from the outside, Beera doesn’t look like what is perhaps one of the most famous establishments in Amritsar, but it is. You’re served crudely chopped, yet perfectly cooked pieces of chicken in a large plate, accompanied by copious amounts of lemon and onion and chutney. We finished one and a half full tandoori chickens between the four of us, and we were only just getting started. Succulent and well spiced, Beera’s tandoori chicken lived up to my expectations, for sure.
Tandoori chicken at Beera: The making of.
Tandoori chicken at Beera.
So after this, we went on to eat pani puris (it’s a shame if you don’t know what pani puris are; also called gol gappas and puchkas, they are fried puris filled with either aloo or channa, served with flavoured ‘pani’ or water) at Bachchu Lal’s. The pani puris were good; spicy, tangy, and well, juicy, but my issue was that there was no sookha (dry) puri at the end of it. After a good pani puri session, you need a well-made sookha puri to actually finish, you know? But other than the disappointing lack of sookha puri, Bachchu Lal’s pani puris were pretty damn good.
Pani puri at Bachchu Lal’s.
We finished off our afternoon session with phirni (rice pudding) for dessert. It was, by far, the best phirni I’ve had in life. Served traditionally, in a matka (earthen dish) to keep it cool, it was a great way to end the afternoon, and is also, a great way to end this post. Part 2 coming soon!
Ahuja’s, from where the phirni was
The phirni from Ahuja’s Sweets.