The Culinary Capital of India – Amritsar is a home for foodies around the world. Everything in this city revolves around food – be it prayers, festivals or socializing, the food is never to be missed or lagged behind by its travelers and visitors. You could say the food is the second-biggest attraction here, after the Golden Temple. Its the fondness of its food that brings in a herd of the tourists from far and near.
If you haven’t tried the traditional Amritsari food during your visit to Punjab you basically haven’t visited at all. If you thought “patriotic” food doesn’t exist then you were wrong. The city is laden with numerous eateries starting from elite restaurants to street foods. Forget 5-star hotels, if you once eat our street foods, you will regret not tasting them so far. We have jotted down a few such food items that are peculiar to this city and make it all the more fascinated and loved by our World Tourists.
If we talk about one proud possession of Amritsaris in terms of food than it is their patriotic breakfast – Amritsari Kulcha. Served with chickpeas and onions soaked in tamarind chutney which gives it the addictive, tangy taste. While the traditional Kulcha called “Alloo Kulcha” (Potato Naan) is usually stuffed with potatoes. But there are quite a few varieties one can have. Cheese/Paneer Kulcha, Cauliflower/Gobi Kulcha or mixed Kulcha are just a few common examples you can experiment with. The best part of Kulcha making is the use of the clay oven or Tandoor – (as it is called in Punjab) that plays a major role in the making of the same.
The whole process is actually a team-work where different works are assigned to different team members. One is kneading the dough, the other making its balls, yet another is stuffing the balls and then the other team-member is leveling them and putting them in the oven. The last team-member takes care of the Tandoor and timely take out these crispy Naans and hand over for serving with a dollop of butter over the same. This makes a perfect Sunday breakfast with swarms of people outside these shops chatting and enjoys this wholesome meal. During our tours, we take our guests to the famous Kulcha Place in the city, from where they can enjoy the rich flavors of this traditional meal.
We can taste one in our Amritsar Heritage Walking Tour.
Phirni or Firni is a dish very similar to Rice Pudding, made with coarsely ground rice. This dish is considered to be a traditional “North Indian” dessert, flavored with lots of saffron, cardamom and adorned with a lot of nuts and some dry fruits too. Often it is covered with a thin layer of so-called “silver paper” which is completely edible. It can vary from very thick to soft and creamy. The color can also vary between creamy yellow to green.
Traditionally in India, Phirni is served cool in clay cups called Matkas which give it a pretty look. However, additionally, to that the clay pots absorb excess liquids giving it a thicker consistency. When it comes to sweets the good and popular places always let the flavors mature for 6-7 hours or even for a day. It is rare to find but some versions of Firni are baked in the clay cups. After that, they are cooled and served. One can assume that this dish probably would have been an influence of the Mughal invasions to India.
Made up of two words “Sat” means “Seven” and “Pura” means “Layers”. So it is basically a seven-layered puff-pastry stuffed with spiced potato. It is a variation of a Samosa – another triangular, cone-shaped spicy snack, which is available in markets normally. Satpura is the crunchiest and a lighter snack than Samosa. Traditionally made with all-purpose flour, with potato filling in it, the snack is served with a tamarind sauce, green chutney or any sauce of your choice even with tomato ketchup.
Due to its crispiness and crunchiness, this light-weighted snack is a delight to eat and melts in the mouth easily.
Wet Bread – as it is called, Bheega Kulcha is another mouth-watering delicacy of the city that tempts people from far and near. Prepared from dough balls made up of fine flour, these Kulchas are smeared completely in Chickpeas gravy which is made with various spices, like- turmeric powder, red chili powder, black pepper, ginger-garlic paste, salt, Garam Masala, etc. The dish is served hot by topping the soft Kulchas with delicious and spicy Chhole with thick gravy garnished with finely cut onions, green chilies, a dash of lemon juice and coriander leaves.
Since this is one dish that is not served in any other part of the country, not in any form or variation, so many people traveling to the Holy City and have a craving for this evening snack which itself is a whole-some meal take away the same with them for little later use.
We bet you never came across this type of food. Aam means mango in Hindi and it is basically dried mango pulp in various styles – sweet, salty, mixed, spiced….crazy how one simple fruit and its’ pulp can offer so much to experiment with! The best part is when the shop keeper shows you the raw-in-sun-dried mango pulp. It is plain, black-brown, thick and hard, dry sheet of mango pulp!
After the pulp is pressed and dried in the sun for several hours or days it is flavored and served in various styles. Sometimes they soak it in sugar for it to become sweeter, sometimes they sprinkle Indian spices over it and add fresh drops of lemon juice which makes it very tangy.
All in all, it will be probably one of the most interesting food discoveries that you will make in India. If you are looking for the one Indian food experience that would surprise – well, you can’t miss this one.
It is rightly said – “If you wanna eat the Best, visit a famous Restaurant. If you wanna beat the best, visit a Street Food”. Unofficially called “The Street Food Capital” there is a lot more to explore besides the above food items but the mentioned are the true intrinsic flavors of the city that can be explored on our trips to the Amritsar Street Food tour which is sure not to be missed by food-lovers across the globe.