This article was first published in Huffpost. Link to the blogpost- http://www.huffingtonpost.in/anubhav-sapra/eating-my-way-through-amritsar-day-3_a_23044828/
Eating My Way Through Amritsar: Day 3
Ending on a high note.
By Anubhav Sapra, Founder, Delhi Food Walks
Punjabi food, like its culture, is very hard to ignore especially in Amritsar, the golden heart of the land of butter and celebration. The flavours are just like its people, loud and in your face but in a very good way. We went on a food adventure spanning over three days in the land of the gurus and stuffed our faces with the most beautiful, delicious and rich dishes we could find on the streets of Amritsar. Read about day 1 here and day 2 here.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is something we have all been taught. And so we took it literally with some authentic Amritsari kulchas. We started with Kulwant Kulcha. The place is ideal for those who like their kulcha really flaky, crisp and lightly spiced. Then there is All India Famous Kulcha Wala, which has been in business since 1989. The shop is owned by Sucha Singh ji and is managed by his son Ponty Singh. The kulcha dough is rolled into seven layers and then stuffed with aloo and paneer filling and half cooked. When someone places the order, the cook handling the tandoor applies water on one side and sticks it in the tandoor. Like Kulwant’s this kulcha was flaky, crisp and subtly spiced. They also have another outlet called Kulchaland which has a more restaurant-like setup. But for me, Ashok Kulche Wala rules the Amritsari Kulcha chart with perfect spicing putting its offerings a cut above the rest (I’ve already described it in some detail here). One can walk in to his open kitchen and see the steps involved in making a perfect kulcha. This is what I liked best about Amritsar. The people here are open hearted and there are no secrets—one can easily walk in to any restaurant’s kitchen. Amritsaris love feeding people and the owners themselves are involved in cooking.
The people here are open hearted and there are no secrets—one can easily walk in to any restaurant’s kitchen.
Next up was Surjit Food Plaza at Nehru Shopping Complex, Lawrence Road. An interesting thing about Amritsar’s food joints is that though some look quite modern and fancy, the food they serve is authentic and traditional. From the outside, Surjit looks like the kind of place I can’t usually afford, but the food has not lost its Amritsari soul. I asked for tawa chicken pulao, which I could see being prepped from behind a big glass wall by none other than the owner, Amarjit Singh. He mixed ghee as well as butter into the chicken and then added boiled rice into the mixture. The tawa chicken pulao is garnished with ginger and coriander. The flavourful rice balances the soft pieces of chicken.They have served their food to who’s who of India. They even have a picture album which one can ask for to see the pictures of celebrities dining at the restaurant. But what caught my attention was the modest beginnings of the restaurant. Starting from a small khopcha, it is full-fledged restaurant today with modern facilities.
Kanshi Ram and Dinesh ke Chole Kulche
By Anubhav Sapra
Every Dellhite’s favourite street food is Chhole Kulche! It is one of the most celebrated go-to food of Delhi and everyone has a favourite local joint. Recently, on the recommendation of my foodie friend, Karan, I tried a very different kind of Kulche chole in Azadpur.
The name of the Chhole Kulche joint is Dinesh ke chole kulcha va garam pulav. Located next to Akash Cinema, Azadupur, it is easy to spot, because of the hordes of people surrounding his cart. The cart is owned by Dinesh and managed by his two brothers Kuldip and Raju. The family hails from Bareily in Uttar Pradesh and they have been into this business for the past 25 years.
This joint has a distinctive and exciting way of making kulchas. The kulchas are fried in butter with a red curry- a mixture of tomato, onion, garlic, ginger and capsicum. First, a generous amount of oil is put on a big pan and the red puree is added with a bunch of different spices. The kulchas are then fried over the spice mixture on the pan. A big spoon of butter is then spread over all the kulchas.
The kulchas are spicy and delicious, with a unique spicy punch that adds to the flavour. I ate few of them with out the chole. Infact, I asked him for double masala fry to make it more spicy. The kulchas are not for the weak hearted because of the amount of butter and spices that are added to the kulcha. However to soothe it down, a glass of boondi raita is served at Dinesh’s stall.
After the initial conversation, Kuldip and Raju shared that the frying of kulcha is inspired from Pav bhaji where the buns are fried in a thick gravy with butter. The joint is extremely inexpensive at only 30 rupees a plate.
After relishing the kulchas at Dinesh’s stall in Azadpur, I headed to his Uncle’s Chole Kulcha shop in Naraina. I was warned by Kuldip that it would be over by the time I reached. Keeping my fingers crossed I drove straight to his place, asking the security guards in the residential colony of E block, Naraina for his shop. The complete address is E-195, Naraina Vihar, Near Gyan Mandir Public School, Mobile number- 9211863472. By the time, I reached, the chhole at his stall were already over but on request I got a small portion of Chhole and a few kulchas.
Kanshi ram, who owns the shop, migrated to Delhi from Bareily at the age of 7 . When I visited his shop, he was listening to folk songs through his headphone, and sitting relaxed savouring tamatar pyaaz chutney with roti. I spoke to him at great length. His eyes were glistening with pride while he shared his story of hard work towards success that began from being a small street vendor to owning a ig shop.
Kanshi ram, also, has a similar way of making the kulchas. He puts butter over a big pan, fries the kulchas, spread a spoon of red coloured chutney, a mixture of garlic red chillies and tomatoes, and garnish it with grated paneer. However, it lacked the spicy punch that was evident in kulchas at Dinesh’s stall. This is because of the butter and paneer that makes it less spicy compared to Dinesh’s kulche. Nonetheless, if you like your kulcha to be more spicy, you can ask for more chutney separately. A plate of Kulche Chhole costs Rs 40 at Kanshi Rams stall.
After having my fill, I bid adieu to Kanshi Ram and got the invitation at the same time to try the mutton he prepares, which he is going to cook sometime specially for me. I really liked the two joints and I hope they are able to expand across Delhi!
Surinder Ji’s Chole-Bhature
By Anubhav Sapra
Hudson lane, the most iconic lane for all college students, is the food hub for Delhi University attendees. During my time at Ramjas College, for all celebrations however big or small everyone would crowd at the renowned Zee Chicken (for those who lived in the north campus) or the famous Pehalwan Dhaba to remind oneself of home.
When one closed the other opened, ACP dhaba and Friends Dhaba are the best examples. Here you were served a never ending tower of chapattis and the traditional Indian sabzi, which was an amalgamation of the season’s fresh produce.
With the ongoing food buzz, where customers want to explore new cuisine fusions in a lounge like atmosphere, Hudson Lane too is now jam-packed with cafes. Despite being exposed to the changing food scene a handful of restaurants are still true to their roots. Charan Singh’s food van is not only known for it’s shahi paneer chawal but also for the chef’s amicable personality and a smile that no one can wipe off. His piping hot rajma chawal and aromatic kadi chawal are not only relished by the campus students but also all the near by office employees with whom he indulges in friendly banter.
Recently, I had the pleasure of trying Surinder ji’s ‘Chole-Bhature’. What makes his dish different from others is the unconventional flat bhatura. He makes the preparation quite interactive which is a sight for sore eyes. He grins from ear to ear while preparing a dish he seems to love; not even dicing an onion could make him frown. The Chola and Bhatura are served with chutney, a garnish of coriander and a side of a cornucopia of pickles.
For 16 years he has been plating this delectable delight and is an affordable treat for all DU students.
Address- Police line, Vijay nagar, next to Bakar café.
Cost for 2- Rs. 50
By Prakriti Bhat
While Delhi is full of restaurants, pubs and cafes, there are places that tend to stand out in a crowd. With its pleasant ambience and concept, Tea Trails Bistro creates an aura of tranquility in the midst of the ever bustling Connaught Place. Done up in hues of white, aqua blue and green with wooden upholstery, it is one of those rare places in CP which bespeaks comfort and has a languid demeanour. Tea Trails is a well known name in Mumbai from where the saga began in 2013. Since then the franchise has successfully opened up many branches in Hyderabad Chennai and Mumbai itself.
The menu comprises of over 80 varieties of teas ranging from Green Tea, Black Tea and Herbal Tea to Tea Mocktails. The USP of this place is the use of tea leaves in their food as well. Fermented tea leaves are used as a garnishing ingredient in some of their dishes like bruschettas and salads. Another unique quality of this place is that they use whole tea leaves in preparing all their teas rather than using condensed forms like powder or tea bags. This brings out the flavor properly and the quality of the end product is not compromised.
Gazpacho, a Spanish cold soup is served as a welcome drink here. Fresh cubes of tomato, black pepper and finely chopped coriander blend in to give you a taste of Spain. This was served in shot glasses. All their teas are served in an extremely organized manner with a kettle, tea cup and plate, small spoon and a Palmiers cookie (which was amazing). Each tray also has a sandglass as the servers explained that a good Green tea like Kehwa requires a steeping time of about 2 minutes while Black Teas require 4 minutes. In contrast to Green tea which is bland but healthy, Black tea is not very healthy but has a strong flavor. The Kehwa was good but I did not relish the Black Tea which had a distinct smoky flavor.
Amongst the Chais, I tried the 5 spices chai which was definitely my favourite among all the hot variants. Made with spices like Cardamom, Cloves and Ginger, it was served in a glass cup with a Palmier cookie. Every spice made its presence felt. It would be the ideal choice for a relaxed winter evening. Amongst the cold teas, you must definitely try their Litchi Bubble tea which is like a pop of flavour in your mouth. While Sangrias are usually made with wine, Tea Trails has introduced a Tea Sangria made with herbal tea and Cranberry juice with small pieces of apple floating on the top.
Gulkand Bun Maska is basically an Iranian Snack where a fruity bun is buttered with Gulkand Maska. It is light on the stomach. Eggs Kejriwal is a popular snack in Mumbai. The name comes from Mr. Daya Prasad Kejriwal who would bring a snack of Pav and Omelette to the gymkhana. A lightly fried Omelette is placed on a buttered Pav and sprinkled with finely chopped onions, green chilies and red chilli powder. It is delicious and quite filling as well. The Green Tea Bruschetta, one of their specialties is made with onions, bell peppers and fermented green tea leaves. For the health freaks there’s Burmese Tea Salad prepared with Lettuce, nuts and fermented tea leaves. It tastes best with the dressing that comes with it.
Vada Pav was definitely the highlight of our meal. A fluffy vada made with boiled and mildly spiced potatoes was pressed between Pav breads smeared with green chutney. Smoked Chicken Sandwich had a distinct flavor of the barbeque sauce used for dressing the chicken. Among Desserts you have to try their Choco Chip Muffin which is quite big and mouth watering. The Dutch Truffle comes with a scoop of Vanilla Ice cream on top and the combo is delightful. Plating for both the desserts is pretty impressive.
If you like to have your cuppa in solitude, Tea Trails is the place to be.
Address- Shop 9, Scindia House, Opposite N Block, CP
Cost for two- Rs. 850 (approx)
Contact No. – 01133106292
Naaz Tandoor – Jama Masjid
Purani dilli, once filled with mansions and forts of noblemen from the Mughal dynasty, now caters to the heaving crowd of modern world. Despite having become a bustling trade centre, it still enchants visitors with its undying splendour. Old Delhi is most acknowledged for its street food and whenever non-vegetarian delicacies are discussed among foodies in Delhi, the famed by lanes of Jama Masjid area are definitely mentioned. These crowded ‘gullies’ are known for their numerous eateries that serve an array of chicken and mutton delights. One of the many establishments that caught my eye was Naaz Tandoor.
Located on the urdu lane, opposite Jama Masjid, Naaz Tandoor welcomes people with the sight of fresh preparations of Tandoori chicken which fill the area with a distinctive smoky aroma. Mohammed Alam, the chef at Naaz Tandoor, sits at the entrance preparing the items on the menu all day long. This man has been a part of the joint since its conception in 1960 and has been cooking delicious chicken fry for its customers.
Although the most popular dish on their menu is chicken fry, I decided to go with the good old Tandoori chicken. The chicken was served with freshly chopped onions, green chilli lemon and chutney made of yellow chilli pepper. For me, the yellow chilli chutney was the highlight of the visit. Its spicy preparation complimented the umami taste in chicken exceptionally well. The piece of tandoori chicken was glazed with ample amounts of chaat masala which added a tangy twist to the meal. I also ordered half a plate of chicken biryani to give the meal a wholesome feel and the quantity does not disappoint. Half plate biryani is enough for two people and it is made with aromatic basmati rice covered with perfect amount of spices that give it a characteristic taste.
In an area dominated by restaurants selling a variety of mutton dishes, this joint stands out for its chicken items. Established by Adil Hassan, this eatery serves deliciously fresh chicken and fish preparations to over 200 customers each day. It is one of the popular choices among the locals as it serves delectable food for a low-price.
Cost for two: INR 300
Address: Urdu Bazaar, opposite Jama Masjid
RAM G SNACKS CORNER
By Prakriti Bhat
Who can forget Akshay Kumar and Juhi Chawla in colour coordinated night suits, gyrating to:
“Jab tak rahega Samose me Aalu
Tera rahunga, O meri Shaalu”
Samosa, the crowning glory of street food has come a long way from the simple Aalu (potato) fillings. And Ram G Snacks Corner in Moti Nagar proves exactly this point. With over 9 types of Samosas on their menu, this place is surely a haven for Samosa lovers. From Pastas to Chowmein as fillings, each Samosa is unique and delicious. I wonder what Akshay Kumar has to say to this.
Ram G Corner is a tiny shop near Milan Cinema in Moti Nagar. They have been serving in this area for about 5 and a half years and changed shops twice since then. Their unique concept and consistency garnered a lot of attention and popularity. This led them to open another branch in Netaji Subhash Place which has been running successfully for a year or two. The nearest metro station would be Moti Nagar or Kirti Nagar on the blue line. From Milan cinema, it’s a 2 minute drive.
The shop, going by the menu, serves 9 types of Samosas. Aalu Samosa, Malai Paneer Samosa, Paneer and Pyaz Samosa, Chilli Paneer Samosa, Tandoori Paneer Samosa, Macaroni Samosa, Pizza Samosa, Veg Keema Samosa and Chowmein Samosa. I asked the vendor to pack all the available Samosas except Aalu. Pizza and Tandoori Paneer Samosas were unavailable at that time. So he added an Egg Bhurji Samosa to my order. My favourite was the Macaroni Samosa. The pasta was made in Indian style and was well spiced and tangy. The next best was Chowmein Samosa. A product of Indo Chinese fusion, this one had your regular street Chowmein stuffed inside the Samosa; spicy, savory and exceptionally well made.
Among the Paneer variants, Malai Paneer Samosa was a clear winner. The mixture was creamy and extremely delectable. Chilli Paneer Samosa wasn’t very spicy but more towards the tangy side of your palate. Paneer and Pyaaz Samosa was made with crumbled paneer spiced with turmeric that lent it a yellow color. Veg Keema Samosa was prepared with Soya granules cooked in, perhaps, Soy Sauce. Lastly, the Egg Bhurji Samosa consisted of a filling of Egg Bhurji and onions. However, it was very bland.
Except the Egg Bhurji one, each Samosa is gigantic and very crispy. I got the Samosas packed and even after 20 minutes, they remained crispy. That speaks volumes about its quality. The prices are very reasonable. There may be no seating arrangement or tables outside the shop but do not let that deter you from making a visit to this hidden gem.
Cost for two- Rs. 60-70
Niche, Lounge and Bistro
A friend of mine recently hosted a Chef’s table named Messa at Niche lounge and bistro, which is located in M block, Connaught Place overlooking the Statesman house. With over 19 years of HR background, blogging came as a hobby to him and he started Mystic Foodie Mantra a few years back. For this event, he curated a special menu for food bloggers in Delhi.
Not being a regular restaurant reviewer, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The food served to us did not just look beautiful, it was simply delectable and I was thoroughly surprised.
The evening began with amusing conversations complimented by an array of unique starters that included Pulled Kathal Tacos and 57 degree duck breast. Kathal, being an excellent substitute to meat, is one of my favourite vegetables, as I like the flavour and texture in it. Served with Salsa and Kasundhi cream, the crisp outer shell of tacos filled with shredded kathal made a perfect combination. The duck was cooked at 57 degrees by a French method named Sous-vide.
Before, I go further about the tasting session, I must admit that the method of cooking involved a bit of food science. The chef revealed that the dishes on the menu are progressive. The cooking techniques involved are dynamic and always evolving. The chef also loves playing with textures, which was evident in the salad he prepared for us. The salad was made of beet and goat cheese. The beet in the salad took on various textures because of the intricate crafting by the chef.
For the main course, we were served Hari Saag along with Polenta crusted fried yoghurt balls, corn bread and jaggery chips with white butter soil. In simple words, dahike kebab were served with the saag. But the imagination of the Chef was incredibly distinctive, which was evident by the preparation and presentation of the dishes made with simple ingredients.
Next was the Lamb Shank Rogan Josh – Rogan josh gravy with ginger air and seasonal vegetables. This was the highlight of the Chefs table for me. It was delicious and I absolutely loved it. I did the most un-niche act at Niche. I slurped the shank and enjoyed the same to the core. Although, it was served as a complete dish in itself, I couldn’t resist myself from ordering assorted breads which went well with the Rogan josh gravy.
The food journey ended on a sweet note with Cheesecake and raspberry sorbet which turned out to be the cherry on top for such a delightful evening.
Sanjay Chur Chur Naan – Moolchand
– Ayushi Mathur
I will admit I am not a Delhiite. Despite being new to this city, one thing I can already say is that Delhi is magical. This city has so much to offer to every single person and especially a lot to a foodie like myself. I have made it my goal to explore Delhi to its smallest nook and cranny and in my initial search for food joints around the city; I found a true gem in Moolchand. Located right next to Moolchand metro station, Sanjay Chur Chur Naan offers extraordinarily scrumptious stuffed naans to its customers. Even though this joint faces a lot of competition from its neighbouring restaurants, it still attracts a very large number of customers every day because of its unique concept.
Why is it that when we order stuffed naan or paratha we need a vegetable curry to eat it with? What is the point of the stuffing then? This is exactly what Mr. Sanjay thought before he decided to create naans with ample stuffing to forego the need of vegetable gravy. For over 35 years, Sanjay Chur Chur Naan has served delicious stuffed naans at an affordable price to its numerous patrons. Each plate, priced at Rs. 130, serves two huge naans with Dal Makhani, buttermilk and yogurt. The naans are cooked in Tandoor and are offered with a variety of stuffing ranging from potatoes to mushrooms. The naans are made fresh and are served within a few minutes of placing an order.
The naans, a perfect balance of soft and crispy, served hot with creamy dal makhani and chilled buttermilk, make for a great breakfast or a lunch meal. They are very well stuffed and it is usually difficult for one person to have both the naans. But not to worry, according to Mr. Sanjay, the buttermilk helps digest the heavy meal of naans and regulates one’s metabolism as well. Apart from the naans, the joint also serves a variety of flavours of lassis, ranging from anjeer ki lassi to chocolate lassi, each so delicious that picking one is a tricky task.
Despite being an all vegetarian eatery, with no seating arrangements, the demand for Chur Chur naan is ever increasing. Mr. Sanjay has now decided to start another branch in Delhi but before that, Sanjay Chur Chur Naan is opening an outlet in Mumbai, specifically in the Ghatkopar area. So, any Mumbaikars reading this keep a look out for this joint and do give it a try.
Location: 6,7 Moolchand Metro Station near Defence Colony
Cost for two: INR 250
RAJU BHAIYA KE RAJMA CHAWAL
By Prakriti Bhat
Student life means grueling lectures, all nighters, nearly empty pockets and a forever rumbling tummy. The lunch that you take along vanishes before the lunch break (courtesy like-minded hungry souls) and by the ned of the day, you become a hunger struck maniac. Looking for pocket friendly places becomes a your chief concern and you’re ready to gobble it all up.
It was on such a day that I stumbled upon a tiny cart parked outside Law Faculty that served Rajma Chawal and coffee. The man, Raju has been feeding the North Campus crowd for about 10-12 years. After enjoying a wholesome plate of Rajma Chawal and a cup of coffee, I proceeded to ask him how it all began and the story was quite interesting.
His father was a businessman in Rawalpindi and shifted to Saharanpur around 2-3 years before partition. His business suffered a setback there after which the family shifted to Maharashtra. Raju bhaiya was only 2 months old when they shifted, yet again, to Delhi. About 10-12 years ago, Raju Bhaiya started off by selling tea and coffee. He then graduated to selling Maggi too and was a quite a hit amongst the students. He says, “We had to stop the Maggi business because it took quite some time to be made. It was getting quite cumbersome.”
About 2-3 years ago, he strated selling Rajma Chawal. Around 12-12:30 p.m., you will always find a teeming crowd of students near his stall. Unlike other street vendors, he serves the food very gently and pours just the right amount Rajma; neither less nor too much so as to flood your plate. And the quantity is good enough for two people as well. The plump grains of rice and Rajma make quite an impressive heap on your plate.
The Rajma is not very greasy or spicy and therefore can be eaten with ease even by the health freaks. This simplicity of preparation reminds you of home cooked food as it will taste similar. Boxes of salt, chaat masala and pickles are kept aside if you want to add more flavor to your meal. And the best part is that a plate of Rajma Chawal costs only 80 bucks. An inexpensive and piping hot plate of Raju bhaiya’s Rajma Chawal is just what you need to refuel your body after college. They serve one of the best coffees you can ever find on Chhatra Marg. Each cup is sprinkled with cocoa powder; a tradition that is gradually vanishing in favour of coffee art at big restaurant and cafes.
Location- Outside Law faculty, Chhatra Marg
Cost for two- Rs. 80-90 (approx)