The Punjabi Kitchen

2015-02-02

In Punjab they are mostly vegetarian. Within the old city limits, it legally has to be vegetarian. There is a vegetarian Subway and McDonalds here as well as a Dominoes and Pizza Hut. From what I’m told Pizza Hut is a nice restaurant to take a girl to on a first date – it’s an expensive place, relatively. There is also the Golden Temple, the┬áholiest site for Sikh’s and they manage to give away roughly 100,000 meals each day. Despite the abundance of free food there are still some really good places that serve local food and do it well.

We lucked out and Sanjay, the owner of our hostel (Jugaadus), is a self-proclaimed “foodie.” He offers a food tour as well. The tour was a bit lengthy – 20 restaurants being the goal – I think he cut it short for us and we only hit up 12 or so. Here are some of the highlights.

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Kesar Da Dhaba, Amritsar, Punjab

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Aloo Prantha Thali (Channa – brownish, Dal – reddish, Raita – white and fresh onions and pickles

Ahuja Milk Bhandar - great lassi - get it sweet not salty and optional on the butter. I'd recommend without.

Ahuja Milk Bhandar – great lassi – get it sweet not salty and optional on the butter. I’d recommend without.

Sweet lassi with butter

Sweet lassi with butter

Fried Paneer

Fried Paneer

Paneer Scramble

Paneer Scramble

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Paani Puri – Poke a hole in the puri and fill it with the condiments.

Rasmalai - like pistachio tres leches with a different texture

Rasmalai – like pistachio tres leches with a different texture

After the food tour Sanjay was even able to arrange me some time working in a local kitchen. It was one of the few kitchens in the area that served meat. I may have chose the wrong day because it was the day after an all-vegetarian holiday and during the celebration of a Sikh warrior, the result of which was even more free food throughout the city. Aside from working with a tandoori oven, seeing how popular Chinese food is here, and the “non-western” hygiene standards the biggest thing I took from this was how difficult it is to work in a kitchen where nobody speaks your language. I’m sure my 16 year old, 4 1/2 foot tall teacher thought I was a complete idiot and couldn’t understand why I was doing things differently from how he told me in Punjabi. At any rate, I have a new found respect for all the Spanish-speaking dishwashers and prep cooks I’ve worked with – I feel honored they put up with me.

Chinese station spice rail (yes there is MSG)

Chinese station spice rail (yes there is MSG)

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Wok Station

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Tandoor Oven

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