Think Punjab 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 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 10 such Vegetarian dishes that have the power to dominate your taste-buds.
“Langar” means “Free Food for All”. The place where it is cooked in Gurudwaras is referred to as “Communal Kitchen”. Amritsar is called the Holy City for its very famous Golden Temple – a World-famous religious place that is visited by a number of travelers daily. Arguably referred to as the World Headquarter for Sikhism, Golden Temple has the World’s Biggest Communal Kitchen that operates 24×7 and serves about 100,000 people a day. From serving dal to vegetables, roti to rice and a thick South Asian rice pudding called Kheer, the place has a big cadre of volunteers working behind this cause who cooks and serves the meal. To initiate the idea of “The Light of God is in all Hearts”, the service was started by the First Guru of Sikhs – Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Every visitor of the Temple is allowed to enjoy this Satvik meal that serves one and all equally.
Yearning for a delicious and indulgent meal in Punjab.? Try Sarson Ka Saag, a classic Punjabi recipe made from mustard leaves, spinach and bathua along with a delicious tempering of Onion and garlic in Ghee. Served with a dollop of white butter or Makhan, the dish is soul-warming and traditional to Indian Villages though found in many Dhabas and Restaurants. It is believed that being in Amritsar, if you have not tasted it, you have actually missed a big part of your tour. Relish this traditional delight in our Village tour where you will have the authentic flavor made of the chullah and hours of cooking in every bite.
Makki is a Punjabi word for maize (corn) and the yellow-colored flour made of it is the core ingredient. It is again a traditional recipe of Punjab which is famous especially in Winters. Paired with Sarson Ka Saag this is again peculiar to Punjabi Villages but we can make it at home and also can get from Dhabas in its different variations as well.
“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. This can also be enjoyed in our Heritage Walking Tour.
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.
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 and actually originated from 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 in our Walking or Bicycle tour to Heritage City.
As saag is peculiar to the city so is this dish. An amalgamation of Cheese (Paneer) and Saag, the dish is best served at World Famous Pal Da Dhaba inside the old city. Best enjoyed with Butter Naan, the dish is enjoyed by die-hard vegetarian and people belonging to all age-groups.
Now comes the sweet delights of the city. 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.
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-Won Kulfa.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if it has not dined well”. So taste these never-tasted-before recipes when you are in Amritsar and give your taste-buds a memory of a lifetime.