Amritsar, a 16th-century city, is one of the largest cities in the Indian state of Punjab. It has developed around the holy shrine of Harmandir Sahib and has other significant historical sites such as Jallianwallah Bagh and Gobin Garh Fort. The older parts of the city have high walls and narrow lanes and best explored on foot or the cycle rickshaw. Take a trip into the historical part of the city and discover the best street food in Amritsar.
Not deviating too far from the stereotype, a walk down Amritsar’s lanes will suffice to tell us that Punjabi culture is heavily centered on food. Punjab is India’s second-largest producer of dairy, and this reflects scrumptiously in their buttery and ghee-laden dishes, lassis and kulfis. It is also India’s largest producer of wheat, and hence, the delectable kulchas and rotis. Over the millennia of civilisation, the people of this region have developed an indigenous style of cooking in a clay oven known as the tandoor, now adopted in many parts of the world. You may have already begun to imagine digging your teeth into juicy chicken tikkas and sheekh kababs. Now, vegetarians don’t despair. There’s plenty out there for you too!
Best places for street food in Amritsar
Although it does not qualify as street food, Langar Khaana is the best food in Amritsar. No visit to the city is complete without a wholesome, delicious, vegetarian, meal at the langar (community kitchen) in the Golden Temple. The holiest shrine of the Sikhs, in keeping with their principle of service, houses the largest Langars, preparing meals for a staggering 50,000 people a day! One can also volunteer to cook, clean or serve in the kitchen. They serve food to anyone who walks in regardless of caste or class. The entire experience is humbling, unforgettable and highly recommended.
Sarson da Saag and Makki di Roti
Dhabas are some of the best food places in Amritsar. There are several dhabas located in the old town and close to the Golden Temple serving only vegetarian food. What is Punjabi cuisine without these famous dishes made from local ingredients? Kesar da Dhaba is one such outlet, offering some of the finest tasting local dishes including Sarson da Saag and Makki di Roti generously drenched in ghee and butter.
Gulab jamuns and Jalebis
There are several tiny sweet stalls strewn across the town of Amritsar especially around Lawrence road. They serve up the famous street food in Amritsar for those with a sweet tooth. The joy of eating local cuisine in a local ambience is unmatched. The Jalebis here are crisp and just the right amount of sweet. Sharma Sweets Shop and Gurdas Ram Jalebi wala on Lawrence Road are the best bet.
Chandrakala and burfis
The Chandrakala in some of the sweet stalls of Amritsar is simply mouth watering for the generous use of a special kind of khova ground with nuts like pistachios and almonds. Khubi Ram’s Sweets in Khatra Ahluwalia is highly recommended for its Chandrakala. Other delicacies include the moong dal and besan burfis, which are some of the famous foods in Amritsar.
Chaats are a favourite of almost everyone in India and acts a delicious snack which is light on the pocket. It’s the most ideal street food in Amritsar or anywhere else you may go in India. Brijwasi Chaats on Cooper road is THE place for delicious tikkis and paani poori. Get there early in the evening lest their supplies are over and you’re left with nothing.
Tandoori chicken and chicken tikka
What would you say is the most famous food of Amritsar? What’s Punjabi khaana without some murg tikka? Amritsar like the rest of the state is a meat lover’s paradise. There are several tandoori restaurants all over the city. For the juiciest chicken, check out Surjit Food Plaza on Lawrence road and Beera Chicken Corner on Majitha road.
This is a speciality of this region with beautifully spiced minced meat stuffed inside a soft naan and served with a spicy gravy. Beera Chicken Corner seems to have a monopoly on this unique dish.
The fresh water singara fish is marinated and fried making it crisp on the exterior and juicy on the inside. It is well flavoured with ajwain. Makhan Fish on Majitha road is a highly recommended to enjoy your Amritsari fish under the stars.
Chai is ubiquitous throughout India, but certain chai stalls have a charm which is inexplicable. Amritsar has many of these famous stalls for their adrak ki chai, masala chai, lemon chai. Giani Tea Stall is one of those. It serves its special chai with cardamom in it and seems to attract people of all ages and nationalities.
Kulfa and lassi
This milk parlour serves some unique preparations. One of them is a Kulfa. That’s right – a Kulfi Falooda. Can it get any better? The lassis in Amritsar are thick with generous dollops of butter and definitely not for the faint-hearted! This absolutely delectable sweet dish, Kulfa, as they say, is the cherry on top of the culinary experience in Amritsar. A-One Kulfa is the original mastermind behind this dish. Do not miss it!
After your visit to the Wagah border and you’ve soaked in all the patriotic fervour, do check out Sarhad and its Museum of Peace, a restaurant that celebrates the shared culinary heritage of India and Pakistan and quite literally gives us food for thought on the need for harmony and peace between countries.
Amritsar combines its spirituality, historicity and agricultural economy into a love for food that is both divine and delicious. It sends the food lover into a frenzied hunt for its delights. It wouldn’t hurt to spend an extra day at Amritsar tasting and relishing all that you can. Do share your gastronomic experiences with us!