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Sev mixture in Indore

A Local’s Guide to the Best Food in Indore [Exclusive Video]

I wasn’t aware of Indore being a foodaholic city until the moment I reached there and saw Sev-Poha-Jalebi shops all around the city. The people of Indore are known as “Indoris” and they call themselves “Khawda” – a term that means they can eat a lot and at any time of the day, as you can literally get food at any time of the day.

A Little on Indore

A city that hones pride for different food varieties, and cleanliness. It was ranked first in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan Survey – 2017 for amazing waste management, and cleanliness initiatives. Recently it also topped the airport service quality ranking in Asia Pacific region.

It is the only city in India that’s home to both an IIM (established in 1996) and an IIT (2009) that makes it lively because of the young crowd being in majority. It is also the commercial, and booming IT capital of Madhya Pradesh.

56 Dukaan (Shops)

As the name suggests, it is a street consisting of 56 food shops (obviously more than that) where you will find cuisines from every part of India.

Vijay Chaat House

$ – Multiple branches: 56 Dukan, Bhawar Kuan, and Sarafa – Khopra Patties & Sev-Poha

Khopra patties at Vijay Chaat house, Indore. Photo courtesy: Zomato

Vijay chaat house is one of the oldest food shops in Indore. Khopra Patties is a must eat dish there. A perfect place to start the day off if you are willing to have sev-poha, jalebi, khamand (dhokla) and samosa-kachori as your first meal.

Johny Hot Dog

$ – Multiple branches: 56 Dukan and Navlakha – Amazing hot dogs

Egg Benjo at Johny Hot Dog, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Egg Benjo at Johny Hot Dog, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Specializing in hot dogs or some may call it the Vada Pav of Indore, Johny Hot Dog has been serving hot dogs for decades at a very economical rate. A properly managed veg and non-veg distribution of hot dogs, even when it caters to a huge amount of people every day. Egg banjo is a must try, apart from veg hot dogs, mutton hot dogs, and egg mutton hot dogs are available.

Madhuram Sweets

$$ – 56 Dukaan – A real healthy shikanji

Shikanji at Madhuram Sweets, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Shikanji at Madhuram Sweets, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Madhuram Sweets is famous for Indian sweets and Indori Namkeens. Its uniqueness lies in shikanji, which is not the usual Nimbu-Shikanji (Lemonade), but a highly nutritious drink made of dry fruits, saffron, and milk.

Live Tawa Ice Cream

$$ – 56 Dukaan – Different ice-cream

Gulaab Jaamun Icecream at Live Tawa Icecream, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Gulaab Jaamun Icecream at Live Tawa Icecream, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

If you got to taste and experience an amazing and totally different icecream, head to this place. They explain the creating process as well. Ferrero Rocher tawa ice cream and fudge brownie tawa ice cream are good. You can also try the blend of Gulaab Jaamun and ice cream over here.

Joshi Dahi Bada House

$ – Sarafa Bazaar – Amazing process and awesome dahi bada

Dahi bada at Joshi Dahi Bada, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Dahi vada at Joshi Dahi Bada, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

This is one the best dahi bada seller in Indore. It’s not only the taste that is awesome, but also in the process of how its made. If you are looking for some an awesome dahi bada and butte ka kiss, must visit this place. You won’t be disappointed for sure.

Rajhans ke dal baafle

$$ – Sarafa – Daal Baafle

Daal Baafla Thali at Rajhans Daal Baafle, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Daal Baafla Thali at Rajhans Daal Baafle, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Indore lies in the heart of Malwa region. If you are in this region, you have to try this regional food. Best Dal Baafle in town without a doubt. Quantity for one Thali is sufficient for 2 people. Thali Includes Dal Baafle, Kadhi, Rice, Aloo Sabji, Churma laddoo, Salad and Chutney.

Pishori Dhaba

$$ – Sapna Sangeeta – Delicious Non-Veg

Chicken lollipop at Pishori Dhaba, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Chicken lollipop at Pishori Dhaba, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Pishori his known for its non-vegetarian delicacies. It has gained the pride of one of the best non-vegs of the city and that too at an economical price. There are two portions. One for alcoholics and the other for non-alcoholics. You must try out the chicken lollipop, Boti Chicken, Amritsari fish, and butter chicken.

Sarafa at night

One of the most famous midnight eating streets of India that offers you a wide range of dishes. To experience Sarafa at its best, head there around 11 PM, and stay till 1.30 AM. Some of the dishes that are must to try:

$ – Chhole tikiya at Sawariya Chaat house

Chhole tikiya at Sawariya Chaat, Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Chhole tikiya at Sawariya Chaat, Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

$ – Garadu or Rataalu

Garadu at Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: vkpriyesh

Garadu at Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: vkpriyesh

$ – Sweet dishes – Jalebi, jaleba, maal pua and rabdi at Bhairvanand

$ – Kulfi at Agarwal Icecreams

Late night food shops

Indore is well known for 24×7 food availability. Here are some cafes that you can go into if you crave food late night.

Make my Sandwich

$ – Teleperfomance, Vijay Nagar – Sandwiches

If you are craving for food at 2 am, head straight to this place, and have Pizzawich, and Strawberry Fizz. This cafe is 24×7 up and running.

Sandwich at Make my sandwich, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Sandwich at Make my sandwich, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Maggie at L. I. G. Square

$$ – LIG Maggie – Maggie and Pasta

If you want something at the stroke of the day at 4AM, go to LIG Maggie, at LIG Square. They have a food truck and they specialize in Maggie and Pasta. You would get to know how crazy Indoris are when it comes to food.

Khopra patties at Vijay Chaat house, Indore. Photo courtesy: Zomato

Vijay chaat house is one of the oldest food shops in Indore. Khopra Patties is a must eat dish there. A perfect place to start the day off if you are willing to have sev-poha, jalebi, khamand (dhokla) and samosa-kachori as your first meal.

Johny Hot Dog

$ – Multiple branches: 56 Dukan and Navlakha – Amazing hot dogs

Egg Benjo at Johny Hot Dog, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Egg Benjo at Johny Hot Dog, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Specializing in hot dogs or some may call it the Vada Pav of Indore, Johny Hot Dog has been serving hot dogs for decades at a very economical rate. A properly managed veg and non-veg distribution of hot dogs, even when it caters to a huge amount of people every day. Egg banjo is a must try, apart from veg hot dogs, mutton hot dogs, and egg mutton hot dogs are available.

Madhuram Sweets

$$ – 56 Dukaan – A real healthy shikanji

Shikanji at Madhuram Sweets, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Shikanji at Madhuram Sweets, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Madhuram Sweets is famous for Indian sweets and Indori Namkeens. Its uniqueness lies in shikanji, which is not the usual Nimbu-Shikanji (Lemonade), but a highly nutritious drink made of dry fruits, saffron, and milk.

Live Tawa Ice Cream

$$ – 56 Dukaan – Different ice-cream

Gulaab Jaamun Icecream at Live Tawa Icecream, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Gulaab Jaamun Icecream at Live Tawa Icecream, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

If you got to taste and experience an amazing and totally different icecream, head to this place. They explain the creating process as well. Ferrero Rocher tawa ice cream and fudge brownie tawa ice cream are good. You can also try the blend of Gulaab Jaamun and ice cream over here.

Joshi Dahi Bada House

$ – Sarafa Bazaar – Amazing process and awesome dahi bada

Dahi bada at Joshi Dahi Bada, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Dahi vada at Joshi Dahi Bada, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

This is one the best dahi bada seller in Indore. It’s not only the taste that is awesome, but also in the process of how its made. If you are looking for some an awesome dahi bada and butte ka kiss, must visit this place. You won’t be disappointed for sure.

Rajhans ke dal baafle

$$ – Sarafa – Daal Baafle

Daal Baafla Thali at Rajhans Daal Baafle, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Daal Baafla Thali at Rajhans Daal Baafle, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Indore lies in the heart of Malwa region. If you are in this region, you have to try this regional food. Best Dal Baafle in town without a doubt. Quantity for one Thali is sufficient for 2 people. Thali Includes Dal Baafle, Kadhi, Rice, Aloo Sabji, Churma laddoo, Salad and Chutney.

Pishori Dhaba

$$ – Sapna Sangeeta – Delicious Non-Veg

Chicken lollipop at Pishori Dhaba, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Chicken lollipop at Pishori Dhaba, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Pishori his known for its non-vegetarian delicacies. It has gained the pride of one of the best non-vegs of the city and that too at an economical price. There are two portions. One for alcoholics and the other for non-alcoholics. You must try out the chicken lollipop, Boti Chicken, Amritsari fish, and butter chicken.

Sarafa at night

One of the most famous midnight eating streets of India that offers you a wide range of dishes. To experience Sarafa at its best, head there around 11 PM, and stay till 1.30 AM. Some of the dishes that are must to try:

$ – Chhole tikiya at Sawariya Chaat house

Chhole tikiya at Sawariya Chaat, Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Chhole tikiya at Sawariya Chaat, Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

$ – Garadu or Rataalu

Garadu at Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: vkpriyesh

Garadu at Sarafa, Indore. Pic courtesy: vkpriyesh

$ – Sweet dishes – Jalebi, jaleba, maal pua and rabdi at Bhairvanand

$ – Kulfi at Agarwal Icecreams

Late night food shops

Indore is well known for 24×7 food availability. Here are some cafes that you can go into if you crave food late night.

Make my Sandwich

$ – Teleperfomance, Vijay Nagar – Sandwiches

If you are craving for food at 2 am, head straight to this place, and have Pizzawich, and Strawberry Fizz. This cafe is 24×7 up and running.

Sandwich at Make my sandwich, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Sandwich at Make my sandwich, Indore. Pic courtesy: Zomato

Maggie at L. I. G. Square

$$ – LIG Maggie – Maggie and Pasta

If you want something at the stroke of the day at 4AM, go to LIG Maggie, at LIG Square. They have a food truck and they specialize in Maggie and Pasta. You would get to know how crazy Indoris are when it comes to food.

The Best Restaurants in Unappetising Paharganj Delhi. Photo by Prateek Rungta (https://flic.kr/p/a6CCCZ).

Where to Eat in Unappetising Paharganj, Delhi

The best way to describe Pahargunj is “hell on earth.” Along with the rest of Old Delhi, it’s the worst place you can possibly stay in India. It features drug addicts shooting up on the side of the road, prostitution, thieves, scammers, rats, and every other nasty you can imagine.

Such a negative description is honest, but during my latest stay in Paharganj, I’ve really made an effort to try and find some beauty in this place.

I went out looking for the best food, and on those walks, I made a point to stay off the main road and take the back streets. The backstreets, away from the hawkers, traffic jams, and madness is where I found the real Paharganj.

While you make your way to these restaurants make an effort to take the back streets. You’ll see kids doing their homework, young men working out in outdoor gyms hidden from the main road, kids going to school, the rear kitchens of the restaurants on the main street, and so much more. Paharganj has beauty if you seek it.

Darbar – $

Outside Darbar Restaurant, Paharganj. Photo by Darbar.

This is the tastiest and cleanest place I’ve found to eat in Paharganj. I surprisingly never see tourists eating there though, it’s usually just filled with Indian businessmen.

Darbar is perfect for breakfast. They serve all the traditional Delhi dishes such as Chole Bhature and Aloo Paratha. All for very reasonable prices considering the cleanliness of this restaurant.

Flavours – $

When I stayed in Paharganj for a month straight once, Flavours was my morning go to. I’d order two aloo paratha, chai, and 2 boiled eggs. They serve authentic and delicious food but just check their cleanliness is up to your standards first. I never had an issue with the food, but more weary travellers may be put off by the roadside kitchen setup (although they have an indoor dining area).

Sita Ram Diwan Chand – $

Chole Bhature

Sita Ram Diwan Chand has achieved legendary status across Delhi as the best place to eat the Delhi breakfast staple Chole Bhature (chickpea curry and deep fried bread). While it’s definitely not the best Chole Bhature in Delhi, it’s certainly decent and a good place to eat in Paharganj. I’ve written previously about where the tastiest and most authentic Chole Bhature is in Delhi.

Sam’s Cafe – $$

Pizza from Sams Cafe, Paharganj. Photo by Zomato.

Sam’s Cafe is a favourite rooftop hangout above the Vivek Hotel in the main bazaar. The food here is a little overpriced and bland (that tends to be the case when a restaurant has a menu that serves every cuisine possible), but the rooftop setting is nicely lit up at night.

Re Cafe – $$

Situated below the bright white and yellow Bloomrooms hotel, Re Cafe serves up good continental and Indian food. They serve fish too which is harder to find in Delhi, being so far from the sea (and a reason I don’t eat it often here). It’s also a good choice for breakfast, with their egg paratha being a standout.

Al-Sameer – $$

I’d been walking past Al-Sameer every time I’d come to Paharganj. It never looked that clean to me, but you can see their chef cooking their Mughal dishes as you walk past. Every time I’d look at what he was cooking, and every time it looked amazing.

So I finally gave Al-Sameer try. Turns out it was clean enough and the food was as it looks – traditional tasty Mughal food. Forget about eating vegetarian here, they specialise in non-vegetarian.

Make your own food

Healthy breakfast food isn’t Paharganj’s speciality. After too many days eating oily Indian food, it tends to make you feel very bloated. That’s when it’s time to go back to basics. In my case, I visit the Mother Dairy store and pick up yoghurt and plain chaach (unsweetened yoghurt drink) and have that with muesli which can be found at Patanjali stores and larger grocery stores.

The Bad

Rituraj: bland and overpriced and there was an insect baked into my naan bread!

Duck Haleem. Photo by Chris Pople (https://flic.kr/p/nZrwSU).

Where to Find Haleem in Hyderabad All Year Round

Whenever I go to Hyderabad, there are two things I must eat: Biryani and Haleem. Good Biryani is easy enough to get around India. But Haleem isn’t it.

Haleem is a dish mainly served in cities with large Muslim populations, like Hyderabad, during Ramadan (a Muslim time of fasting). The reason being that its preparation is very laborious. It takes hours of stirring to break down the mutton to produce this thick meaty soup. Therefore it’s reserved for special occasions.

Now you’re probably thinking, as I was when I first set eyes on it, that this looks like slop, yuk! It looks unappetising, yes. But once you taste it I guarantee you’ll be hooked. I can’t really describe the flavours, so just imagine a thick mutton curry soup. It’s not hot spicy, but more of an intense mutton flavour.

The problem is, I’m never in Hyderabad during Ramadan. So I made some calls while in Hyderabad this time and found where I can find this delicacy year round!

1. The Park Hotel’s Aish

Haleem at The Park's Aish Restaurant, Hyderabad. Photo © Karl Rock.

Haleem at The Park’s Aish Restaurant, Hyderabad. Photo © Karl Rock.

Aish serves you Hyderabadi Haleem like you’re a king. The price reflects it too at a crazy 850 (it’s around ₹150 on the streets during Ramadan). But it’s worth it providing you’re not craving it daily like me.

It could be a little spicier. But beggars can’t be choosers.

Haleem with all the toppings at The Park's Aish Restaurant, Hyderabad. Photo © Karl Rock.

Haleem with all the toppings at The Park’s Aish Restaurant, Hyderabad. Photo © Karl Rock.

2. Haleem365

Haleem365 is an online home delivery service that sells a family size Mutton Haleem for 550. The pictures on their site look great, but I have not tried them yet so I can’t comment on the taste – leave a comment if you have!

There you go, two places to enjoy Haleem all year round in Hyderabad!

Indian Food. Photo by SteFou!

Auckland: The Authentic Indian Food Guide

Before I moved to India, I spent years discovering the best Indian food at home in Auckland, New Zealand. Now that I’ve spent over a year eating all around India, I can tell you exactly which restaurants serve authentic Indian food and which serve unauthentic but still great food.

Clearly from the list below Sandringham is the place to eat the best Indian food. That’s because Sandringham has become a little India, probably because of the large Hindu temple there. The fragrant incense burning in the shops makes Sandringham smell a bit like India too. Start exploring Indian food in this city fringe suburb!

For Something Authentic

Paradise, Sandringham – Hyderabadi Cuisine

Different types of BBQ'd chicken skewers in India. Photo by Travis Wise.

Different types of BBQ’d chicken skewers in India. Photo by Travis Wise.

If there’s one place you should visit, it’s Paradise. There’s a reason why there are queues outside both their restaurant and takeaway shops most nights. It’s simply the best Indian food at reasonable prices in Auckland. They specialise in Hyderabadi food, but they still serve a great Butter Chicken that’s available in Kiwi or Indian style.

Hyderabad is the capital of the newly formed Telangana state, previously it was part of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabadi cuisine is influenced by Muslim cooking and therefore famous for its varieties of spicy meat curries, BBQ’d skewers and biryanis. Muslims really know how to cook flavour packed meat!

For an authentic Hyderabadi experience order: Chicken or Mutton Dum Biryani, a BBQ’d chicken dish such as Chicken 65 or the much hotter Harab Hara Chicken, along with the hard to find delicacy, Haleem (a spicy meat stew, available weekends only). If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to try Haleem, go for a Butter Chicken (Indian style) – it’s as close to Butter Chicken in India as I can find.

Other must-try dishes are Tandoori Chicken, Onion Pakora, Lollypop Chicken, Chilly Prawns, and Fried Fish which you’ll see hanging in the kitchen window as you enter.

If fall in love with Haleem as I did, the nearby Hyderabadi Kitchen in Mt Roskill is the only other restaurant in New Zealand which serves it. It’s worth a visit too.

Haleem from Hyderabadi Kitchen. Photo © Karl Rock.

Haleem and Paya from Hyderabadi Kitchen. Photo © Karl Rock.

Jai Jalaram Khaman, Blockhouse Bay – Indian Street Food

My all time favourite, Dahi Puri. Photo © Karl Rock.

My all time favourite, Dahi Puri from JJK. Photo © Karl Rock.

JJK, as it’s known, has been around forever. It’s owner-operated home cooked Indian food. I started going there over 10 years ago when a Parsi friend of mine took me there for Chaat (Indian sweet and spicy street food). Back then I was just after the perfect Dahi Puri which JJK delivers. But then I started eating my way through their menu of Mumbai street foods.

What JJK lacks in atmosphere and decor it makes up for in flavour. They have a minimal menu which I always admire about a restaurant because it usually means they focus on a few things and do them well. Unlike the bulk of Indian restaurants who try to pack every dish from the bottom to the top of India in their menu.

Start with Dahi Puri and Pani Puri then finish off with either a Dabeli (a Gujarati veg burger) or their spicy Pau Bhaji (bread with mashed mixed veg curry). It all tastes just like India.

Mumbai Chaat, Sandringham – Indian Street Food & More

If Blockhouse Bay is too far away for you, then Mumbai Chaat is an OK alternative for a large variety Indian street foods.

Dahi Puri from Mumbai Chaat. Photo © Karl Rock.

Dahi Puri from Mumbai Chaat. Photo © Karl Rock.

Halal Butcher, Sandringham – Butcher with Flavour

If you want the tastiest meat to BBQ at home, then this is the place. Choose your meat then your marinade. My favourite cut here is the massive beef ribs, one rib is enough for the biggest appetite.

Rasoi, K Road – South Indian

I ate so often at Rasoi during my University years that the owner now calls me Mr India. Truth be told, the people who run Rasoi are not from India. They’re Fijian Indians from Labasa, Fiji. They don’t serve traditional Fiji Indian food either. They serve the best South Indian food and sweets in New Zealand.

Rasoi’s Samosas, Pau Bhaji, Masala Dosa (the longest I’ve ever seen), and Bhel Puri are all to die for.

Long Masala Dosa. Photo by kevix@home.

Long Masala Dosa. Photo by kevix@home.

For Traditional European Indian Curry

While people rave about the below three restaurants, they don’t exactly serve authentic Indian cuisine. Rather they serve Indian food adjusted for European taste buds. That’s why they’re so popular. The flavours are less spicy and more creamy. It’s basically toned down Punjabi food that we love so much. There’s nothing wrong with that either, I enjoy it too.

Satya, Around Auckland – North & South Indian

Butter Chicken, unfortunately, the pinnacle of Indian food in the West. Photo by Calgary Reviews.

Butter Chicken, unfortunately, the pinnacle of Indian food in the West. Photo by Calgary Reviews.

You can’t go wrong at Satya, and that’s probably why it was the most recommended Indian restaurant in Auckland for years until Paradise came along. They do a spectacular Dahi Puri which is different to the Indian type!

Little India, Around Auckland – North Indian

Butter chicken and naan. Nothing more to say.

Punjabi Dhaba, Around Auckland – North Indian

Punjabi Dhaba does one dish better than the rest. That’s Chicken Lollipops. They’re addictive! It’s special chicken drumsticks with the meat all pulled to one end then deep fried with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce. Just try it.

For Something A Little Different

Cassia, Auckland City – Modern Indian

Some kind of abstract paneer? I don't know. But I want to eat it anyway. Photo by Cassia.

Some kind of abstract paneer? I don’t know. But I want to eat it anyway. Photo by Cassia.

Cassia is the only “Modern Indian” restaurant I’ve heard of. It’s ritzy. It’s weird. Its food is abstracted and deconstructed. It’s more like art than cuisine.

The chef at Cassia, Sid Sahrawat, takes Indian cuisine and does all weird and wonderful things with it. It’s a bit of an experience in experimentation. So if you have a few dollars to spare (it ain’t cheap!) and want to experience something different, head to Cassia for something unique.

Monsoon Poon, Auckland City – Thai, Malaysian, Indian

Monsoon Poon is one of my favourite restaurants. Their menu is a mix of the best dishes of Thailand, Malaysia, and India. And they do it well! Their food is incredibly flavourful and rich.

Make sure you have a starters platter, the Button Chicken, and the very hot Firecracker Chicken (not Indian, but amazing anyway).

Firecracker Chicken. Photo by Monsoon Poon.

Firecracker Chicken. Photo by Monsoon Poon.

The Golden Temple at night. Photo by Arian Zwegers.

Don’t Leave Amritsar Without Eating These 3 Things

We woke at 4:45 am. It was still dark and boiling in Chandigarh. Today, the three of us had decided to take a road trip across Punjab to visit the world-famous Golden Temple and devour some of the delicious foods found in the India Pakistan border city of Amritsar.

I stumbled into the shower and struggled to locate the light switch in the darkness. In India, light switches can be found in the most bizarre of places. I wished I’d slept earlier, but there’s always a party in Punjab. Punjabis love to party, dance, sing, drink and eat. They’re merry people and always fun to be with. A splash of cold water began to wake my sleepy eyes. Fifteen minutes later the three of us piled into the Suzuki Swift (the most popular car in India) and began our journey.

One bad thing about India is that restaurants don’t do breakfast. Indians generally wake up late and start work late at 10 or 10:30 am. So nothing opens until 9 am at the earliest. We were keeping an eye out for somewhere to get a quick bite but alas the rest of India was still sound asleep. It’s so peaceful in India when everyone is asleep, and the dogs aren’t barking.

We eventually found a Burger King on the highway at 8 am that was open, well their drive-through at least. Not exactly Punjabi food, but beggars can’t be choosers. There’s no breakfast menu in India so we scoffed down some whoppers and fries and kept going on our 228 km journey to Amritsar. You might be thinking, “228 km, that’s not far.” In India it is. You’re on average going to be travelling only 50 km per hour because of potholed roads or having to serve around cows.

Langar

Free – Golden Temple Food Hall

Langar in the Golden Temple. Photo by Haresh Patel.

Langar in the Golden Temple. Photo by Haresh Patel.

We started off the day visiting the beautiful Golden Temple. It’s surrounded by a lake with the temple on an island in the middle. Men added to the mystical atmosphere by performed Punjabi folk songs loudly as we sat and took it all in. All Sikh temples such as the Golden Temple are called Gurdwaras. All Gurdwaras provide shelter and food to anyone who wants it. While most people won’t sleep at a Gurdwara, although they’re welcome to, most will eat the food, called Langar. The Golden Temple alone serves tens of thousands of meals a day. Gurdwaras are entirely run by volunteers. You’re welcome to visit the kitchen and washing room and see the masses of people giving their time to serve others – it’s something a lot of religions could learn from.

As you enter the Langar hall, you’ll be handed a plate and spoon. Find a place sit on the mats provided and wait to be served a two-course meal. The meal is usually some sort of lentil or chickpea curry, rice, and roti followed by a sweet dish such an Indian rice pudding (Kheer). It’s always delicious and hygienically produced.

One thing you can do help the Gurdwara sustain their free meal plan is to donate a few rupees or help roll rotis or clean dishes. But it’s in no way compulsory, and you’ll never be asked or hassled to donate like some other religion’s temples shamelessly do.

 

Automatic Roti making machine in the Golden Temple kitchen. Photo by BOMBMAN.

Automatic Roti making machine in the Golden Temple kitchen. Photo by BOMBMAN.

 

Amritsari Kulcha

$ – Kulchaland
$ – Kesar da Dhaba

Amritsari Kulcha. Photo by Prateek Rungta.

Amritsari Kulcha. Photo by Prateek Rungta.

Next up we went on a 1 km walk to Kuchaland. You can’t leave Amritsar without eating one of their famed Amritsari Kulcha. A kulcha looks like a naan bread stuffed with potato, onion, and spices but it’s actually very different. The bread is very light, and the texture is that of multiple layers of wafer thin, buttery bread. To top it off they smother it with melted butter and sometimes seeds and spices too. You then break it like a naan and scoop up the unlimited portions of spicy chickpea curry provided.

You could confuse it for an Aloo Paratha too, but once you taste it and feel the texture of the bread, you’ll see how delicious and superior it really is. It’s the ultimate stuffed bread!

The name Kulchaland inspired thoughts of Disneyland or some other land of epic proportions. But it’s really not the case, unfortunately. Kulchaland has 0 atmosphere and the non-existent and slightly dirty decor may put some people off. If you want somewhere slightly cleaner, then set your GPS to Kesar da Dhaba. Both places are great and serve authentic kulcha.

Lassi

$ – Gian Chand Lassi Wale

Lassi being made in Amritsar. Photo by Sean Ellis.

Lassi being made in Amritsar. Photo by Sean Ellis.

To wash down the Langar and Kulcha we’d just eaten we headed to the most famous Lassi store for a large 500ml plain yoghurt lassi drink topped with a dollop fresh cream. After a spicy meal, I always have a plain or sweet lassi or just plain milk to neutralise the spices and refresh my mouth.

As we took the car out of the parking lot, we realised most of the streets were completely empty and that Police and Swat teams were swarming around. Turns out the Chief Minister of Punjab was nearby, so that made our ride to Gian Chand Lassi Wale very quick with no traffic!

After eating all the best food that Amritsar has to offer the span of 4-hours our stomachs were stuffed. Make sure you spread these meals out over the day. You’ll want to do it all over again the next day, I know we did.

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