To The City of Golden Temple & Mindblowing Food
A trip to Amritsar : Feeling the peace at Golden Temple, being confused about Attari-Wagah border and eating like there is a no tomorrow and oh yes shopping for Phulkari. Taking you along the memories of my trip
I love Amritsar, it's one of my favorite cities in India inspite of being everything I really don't like in a city. It is dirty, it is famous as a religious destination but yet everytime I visit the city I feel it's magic and peace in my soul.
The peace and calm you visit when you see the Golden Temple cannot really be defined. I am not a religious person and I have said that enough here and at other places. But Sikhs and the Golden temple, inspire me by the humility and humanity they stand for. For the mere fact that religion for them is equality and there is no discrimination when it comes to Hindu, Muslim or any other religion.
The fact that the temple and the surrounding areas are so super clean and well maintained just adds to my respect for the place. I have been wanting to take Ojas to Golden temple since he was born but somehow didn't get a chance to , so this winter while visiting Delhi we decided to make a quick 2 day trip to Amristar. We went by Shatabdi and reached there sometime in the afternoon and headed straight to the Attari-Wagah border.
Honestly I don't know how I felt about the visit, torn between feeling elated on the emotions & patroitsm running high with people shouting slogans like "Vande Mataram", "Bharat Mata ki Jai". Of Bollywood songs like "mere desh ki dharti" and "sandese aate hain" blaring on loudspeaker. The atmosphere was truly motivating.
On the other hand, the whole parade felt so much drama induced, Bollywood inspired. The forced expressions on the face of soldiers worthy of Oscar nomination. The flinging of gates open, coordinating drama on both sides of the border and the competition on who is louder. Wonder what really is the purpose of this. There are citizens like you and me sitting on both sides and going with the flow and in the end wondering where did that little anger and aggression for the people beyond border came from.
Having finished the two major touristy things on our agenda we got down to the serious bussiness of eating. The business which is top of my list always. Ample fun was made of me by sister, brother in law and others while I rattled off my list of eating joints to the taxi walla and broke into intense discussion with him on what really makes the best Amristari naan and where to have it.
The lunch we had on a roadside dhabha of butter naan, dal makhani and paneer bhurji on the way to wagah though not bad was nothing spectacular and I was already edgy by now.
Not wanting to waste anymore time and meal on an ordinary meal, I was hell bent to go through only my list and the top most thing to try in my list were Amritsari kulcha at Bhai Kulwant Singh (having eaten there before I know it's kickass) or the Kulcha at moolchand. Unfortunately the taxi driver told us both these places serve kulcha only in the afternoon and since my sister and brother in law were leaving by the night train we headed to Brothers dhaba for our share.
Though I know there are better kulcha's available to someone coming from Bangalore this was BLISS as well. Crisp, flaky, the covering felt almost like puff pastry sheets and the filling perfect with spiced aloo. I could sit and eat those forever.
Happy and content we called it a day and started on our eating journey next morning fresh at Kanha Sweets. There is a Kanhiya sweets a couple of 100 mtrs short of Kanha but please skip that and go to Kanha, which is about 80-90 yr old shop and serves the best pooris for breakfast
The crisp pooris are made of atta and have a thin layer of stuffing of urad dal in it, similar to the UP bedmi style poori but bigger and much lighter. We were all surprised at the lightness and crispness of it and even the child ate 2 of them.
The poori's were served with chola and a kickass sweetish aloo chutney. I could probably drink that by the gallon, it was unexpectedly delicious. We also ordered the lassi here, because if you don't order lassi in Punjab where else will you order it man, the lassi was thiner than the normal lassi's but had a huge dollop of cream on top to balance it all zest you think you are being shortchanged of fat in lassi ;)
But my most favorite thing at Kanha was this halwa. Orange in color, dripping in ghee and made with jaggery, soji and atta. It was one of the best halwas I have had in recent past. It had everything right from the texture, to sweetness to flavour
Just outside Kanha there were men sitting and cutting carrots, I went and had a little chat with them in my broken Punjabi and was told they were going to make gajar ka achar, the one with mustard and one of the most interesting find of the day was how they were peeling carrots, cutting the bottom part of the carrots, making in hole in it and then scrubbing the carrot with it. Removing the fibre on top. Indian jugaad at its best. Child was most amused by the carrot umbrella as he called it.
Note : To make the achar at home, here is the recipe
If you think after this breakfast we would skip lunch, once again you are mistaken. I have single minded focus on eating when I travel. I come back and eat salads for a week but when I am traveling I have to try and eat the local stuff as much as I can. So we went to Beera's Chicken for lunch. A small but a very old dhabha famous for its roasted chicken and fish fry (honestly the fish is better at Makhan a little away from Beera so if you have time have the chicken at beera and fish at Makhan).
Fresh sole fish, deep fried with a thin and crisp lightly spiced coating. This could give any tempura run of it's money.
But the real star of the show at Beera was the chicken, probably spiced with 3-4 spices and roasted just right. I don't think I have ever eaten such a well cooked chicken in Indian dishes. Juicy and tender from inside, again Beera could teach many a places how to cook chicken rightly
We also ordered Butter chicken and naan but honestly you can skip that one and have your naan with some more roasted chicken and curd may be
A little note here, there is nothing for vegetarians at Beera. I had my mum with me and the only thing she got was insipid shahi paneer. So if you are a mixed group may be Kesar or Brothers is a better option.
Since mom couldn't eat there, it gave me a chance to tick another place on my list. The Brijawasi Chat Bhandar and now how can anyone say no to these hot tikkis in Amritsar winter you tell me
We ended our food journey in the city with melt in the mouth jalebis. Crisp from the outside and oh so soft from the inside at Gurudas Ram Jalebi walla at the Jalebi walla chowk. Yes yes there is a chowk (crossing) named after the famous Indian dessert in Amritsar, another reason to love the city I say
I still had lot of places left in my list alas and I feel another trip (or many) to Amritsar is due sometime soon. But till then if you go this is what you can do.
And oh I cannot end this post without showing you a bit of Phulkari. If you go there do not miss the beauty of this work. Go visit the big cloth market and there are many shops
I specially liked a biggish shop called "Kartar Singh di Hatti" and bought patiala salwars, phulkari sarees and suits for gifting.
I hope you enjoyed reading a glimpse of my travel to my roots and if you did hit the follow button on the bottom left so that you get next posts in your email.
Till then happy reading, eating and traveling