Think about the Oldest City of Punjab – Amritsar and your mind is instantly directed to the never-ending list of savory delights the country has to thank the state for. Signature Punjabi delicacies like Makki di Roti and Sarso ka Saag, Chicken Tikka, Lassi and Choley Bhature have transcended the state’s barrier and secured a place on several plates and hearts, both home and abroad. And then there are some hidden gems in the congested alleys and towns of the state still waiting to get its due. The Chicken and other non-vegetarian tandoori dishes take away the limelight when it comes to talking about Punjabi cuisine. But there are many Vegetarian delights too for which your taste-buds crave for.
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art”. Bringing this art to you, we are listing down 15 such Street Food items, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian along with some peculiar desserts that have the power to dominate your taste-buds.
Ultimate Guide to 15 Street Food Items from the Culinary Capital of Punjab
Starting with a plethora of vegetarian dishes from the Holy City some ultimate joints that serve delicious snacks as well as a rich meal.
The ultimate worshipped meal of the city is loved by one and all. “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast”. Giving this famous saying its due course and worshipped by Amritsaris, it is a complete meal in itself and is served with chickpeas and some onions or chutney. The onions are usually soaked in tamarind chutney which gives it an 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. Best served at Kulcha Land in Ranjit Avenue, one cannot miss this smoky taste of the Tandoor – the clay oven where it is made in its authentic way. Try it at Kulcha Land in Ranjit Avenue
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 later use. Available at every famous market of the town, this is sure to leave an impact on you.
One of its kind pure vegetarian dish but is considered equivalent to non-vegetarian which is enriched with proteins and is appealing and tempting to eat. Made of Soyabean chunks marinated with different spices the dish is undoubtedly a versatile ingredient, which can be enjoyed in stir-fries as well as gravy preparations. Therefore the dish can be relished with Rumali roti as a snack or as a complete meal.
Makhani means “buttery”, so for this recipe, whole black lentils (whole urad) are cooked with lots of butter and cream. A peculiar dish of Punjab made with black lentils, red kidney beans and loaded with butter and ghee is cooked simmering on low heats for hours to get that authentic taste. The most popular Dal of not only Punjab but the whole of India which is there in the menu list of every wedding party and restaurant. The use of very gentle spices completes its flavor because Less is more when it comes to using spices in dal makhani. Enjoy this rich traditional flavor either at Kesar Da Dhaba or in our Walking or Bicycle tour to Heritage City.
Giving a treat to our non-vegetarians, listing some of the most popular fleshy items that will surely give dominance to your taste-buds
The dish is world-famous and is served almost in every city of the world. But what makes it more endearing in Amritsar is the way it is made in a desi Punjabi style and the way it accompanies the steaming brew of most of the Indians – Chai. The best place to have this flavorsome meal is the very famous Giani Tea Stall. The place is best known as “Tea Room of Amritsar”, where we can see a lot of people gathering, talking and relishing the exquisite taste of this generations-old shop where variety of Omelettes are served with bread and a special tea that is made with a variety of spices to bring out the flavor in the leaf and then combined with steamed milk. Another savory of the shop is the Famous Kachoris – which are well stuffed and flavored with different varieties of spices. The place is highly recommended by its regular customers and is also famous among celebrities and politicians.
We have seen Punjabis obsession for Chicken, but what they really boast of is their World famous Machhi – (fish). Go anywhere in the alleys or bylanes of the city and one thing you would definitely find at a core non-vegetarian Dhaba or restaurant is Amritsari Fish. These fritters are basically pre-marinated in gram flour batter with all spices and are then deep-fried in hot oil. The mouth-watering dish is served with mint and coriander chutney which is equally delicious and comes with many additional qualities. Best served at Makhan Da Dhaba, the delicacy has not only locals hooked to it but also is World Famous now. The best fish that is used in its making is either Sole or Singara.
A dried chicken recipe that is usually liked by people as starters or as a snack. These traditional Punjabi initiators are the boneless pieces of chicken marinated in a spiced yogurt mixture and are then put in a Skewer and cooked in a traditional method using charcoal Ovalclay Tandoor till crisp golden. The basic punch lies in the marination of these chunks which is usually done a few hours before to give this opener its authentic taste. The smoky taste of this much-loved starter is due to its cooking in the Tandoor. Loved by people of all ages, this is sure to take hold of your taste-buds once it melts in your mouth. Being more of street food, this is easily available in the area of Ranjit Avenue at several places, most famous being Bubby Dhaba.
A classic delight for Punjabi food lovers, the chicken champ is the minced chicken binded together and is a mixture made with spices to give it its authentic taste. Though available in other cities as well but a different variation of it. Punjabi love this delicacy in its dry form and enjoy as a starter. Again available at different food joints in the spacious markets of the city, the much-loved are of Beera Chicken House from Basant Nagar these minced chicken logs are enjoyed by people belonging to all age groups.
Another mouth-watering chicken starter prepared by roasting the chicken in a Tandoor – a cylindrical clay oven. Marinated with various aromatic spices hours before it is to be cooked, the peculiar things about it are the pieces are slashed to the bone in several places helping the marinade to penetrate in it so that it gets cooked quickly. The addition of lemon gives it a tangy taste. Being a wholesome meal it is even preferred by people who are little diet-conscious and prefer to skip meals at night. A different version of it is equally famous which is normally cooked at homes and is fried instead of roasted.
Being a world-famous dish, it has its traditional taste when made in Punjabi style. Mixed with various spices and herbs in a moderate quantity, accompanied with lots of cream and butter, the dish is a complete “Yes” for hard-core Punjabis. This is believed to be synonymous with Punjabi appetite and is worshipped by Punjabi diners. Charming Chicken is famous for this delicacy.
After tasting the salty delicacies, time is to taste some sugary delights.
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!
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 “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.
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 tastes are 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 2-3 layers. The final color of Amarti is also more vibrant, almost orange.
Peculiar to its name these are the 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.
A family member of a more familiar Kulfi, Kulfa is an ice-cream topped with spaghetti-like falooda. It has a peculiar taste which is better to be tasted than described in words. The most popular place for the same in Amritsar is A-One Kulfa. The places are almost very very approachable and you can commute through taxis or can enjoy a ride in an electric tuk-tuk as well. Some of the above delicacies can be enjoyed with our Amritsar Street Food Tour.