It is a common belief throughout the north-west of India that there are two things that the Punjabi city of Amritsar is famous for. One is the glittering opulence of the Harmandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple. This shimmering, spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh world receives more visitors than even the Taj Mahal.
The second famous feature of Amritsar is its diverse and delightful range of delicious street food options – a dizzying variety of snacks that will slap a silly grin on the face of any fan of Indian food. Whether vegetarian or a true carnivore, a visitor to this city of rich flavors and decadent recipes can lose themselves for days in the maze of back alleys and by-lanes, discovering the authentic cuisine of the simple, roadside dhabas.
The local people of Amritsar adore their street food and the city streets are lined with vendors and hand-carts offering fresh, tasty treats to suit all tastes. From cooling, creamy lassis and crumbly sweets, to warm parathas slathered with salty butter, the list of Amritsari street food is tempting, varied and endless. Here are some of the most delicious, must-try options:
- Amritsari Kulcha
The signature street food of Amritsar, kulcha, can be stuffed with a variety of fillings from spiced potato to paneer and onion. However, it is just as delicious consumed plain, smeared with melting butter and chutney. Kulcha served with chole, a spicy chickpea dish, is particularly popular as a breakfast or brunch option in Amritsar.
- Fish Fry
One for the seafood lovers, these crunchy, fried fish snacks are a firm favorite on the Amritsari streets. Slices of fresh fish are marinated in spices such as turmeric, coriander, chilli powder and ginger, coated in gram flour and deep-fried until golden brown. Perfect for a salty, fast-food snack.
- Tandoori Chicken
If you are a fan of roasted chicken, you will be spoiled for choice in Amritsar. The succulent, juicy meat on offer, cooked in the traditional tandoor, is free from the artificial food colourings and additives that often come hand-in-hand with this type of dish.
You might think you know Indian lassis, the refreshingly creamy yoghurt drink beloved by people all over India, but the Amritsari lassi is a beverage on another level. Thick as clotted cream with a light froth whipping the surface, these delectable drinks come flavored with a wide variety of ingredients, from saffron and rose-water to mango and other fresh fruits.
- Gur Halwa
A thick, sugary concoction, dark with jaggery and flavored with almonds and cardamom, gur halwa is a favourite dessert of Amritsar. Ideal at the end of a sumptuous meal or as a stand-alone snack, guaranteed to give out a hit of sugar-fuelled energy.
- Paneer Pakoda
Paneer pakoda are springy cubes of paneer, dipped in batter and fried to a crisp. These treats provide bite-sized chunks of creamy cheese, encased within a crisp, golden shell – a balance of textures to tantalise your taste-buds.
You may well encounter some of the classic flavours and delicacies of Amritsar upon your next visit to one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants – these reputable establishments base their innovative menus around all the classic flavours of Indian cuisine.