Everyone who ever visited Amritsar knows: Amritsar is all about the food. Well, not all of the food but there are certain favorite food items that have something common in them. That is – Oil, sugar, ghee, and butter. These ingredients play a vital role not just in Amritsar’s food culture but in a Punjabi man’s round belly! You are right, the Punjabis are famous for their healthy, round figure. But don’t think they try to hide it! On the contrary. It is a matter of pride.
While the food in Amritsar stands above all street food and snacks provide a whole new experience for the traveler. If you spend your entire trip tasting street food you can easily skip the sightseeing part – Through food, you will learn a whole new world about the people and culture.
Streetfood snacks are often salty and spicy. But there are some famous sweets and desserts that you shouldn’t miss as they play a major role not just on the street but during Indian festivities too.
Jalebi – OMG! Your senses will swim in the sugary – caramel tub. Jalebi is made of simple all-purpose flour that is poured into a huge pot filled with oil. Once it catches a brown-golden color it is taken out and put into another pot full of liquid sugar. There it is left to soak and absorb the juicy, sugary flavor. It is served in a small cup filled with liquid sugar. While eating the sugar will be literally dripping off your mouth. Because of the all-purpose flour, it keeps a very crispy yet juicy taste. Easy to eat indeed! Thanks to its serving size which is quite small. If you ask nicely they will make you the huge-oversized Jalebi called the JALEB! It is an enormous version of a Jalebi. Round and flat!
As a parallel to Jalebi, we have the good, old Bengali Amarti. Even though Amarti doesn’t originate in Punjab both Jalebi and Amarti can usually be found together. While Jalebi is made of all-purpose flour, Amarti is made of black lentil flour. The end taste is very similar, differs in the texture. Jalebi is crunchy, crispy yet juicy while Amarti is way softer! Jalebi is made using just one layer but Amarti is prepared using 2-3layers. The final color of Amarti is also more vibrant, almost orange.
Peculiar to its name these delicious berry sized balls made up of Khoya – milk solid as a core ingredient along with sugar, rose syrup, and cardamom powder. The word “Gulab” translates to “rose” in Hindi and “Jamun” to “Berry/Black plum”. Enjoyed at every festivity and at every celebration, this is the much-revered dessert enjoyed by people from all over Punjab. So much so, we have small vendors at our onset, who are selling it at most of the strategic market places.
Some of the delightful savories can be enjoyed in our Street Food Bicycle Tour as well.
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 also 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.
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.