Amritsar and Jalandhar, the two neighboring cities of Punjab are just about 80 kms apart. However, strangely though, while the food of Amritsar is very famous, one does not find food of Jalandhar being much talked about. Remember that Punjab is known for its rich and pure food. So, last week in Jalandhar, we had Amritsari Kulcha, Poori Sabzi, Chhole Bhature, Dal Bara, Fried Fish, Kharore, Dal Makhni, Gajar Halwa and so on. The list is long. I give here a broad itinerary for your Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in the city. Mind it there is yet more to explore which I shall, during my future visits.
Even a search on the net does not throw many options in Jalandhar. Last week, I was in the city for about 24 hours and explored quite a few places with the help of my local colleagues, online friends and the net. We visited some famous and some not so famous outlets and the locals swear by the food they serve.
Poori Subzi at Gandhi Di Hatti
Our first stop for breakfast was this outlet in Jalandhar Cantt. The place is famous for their Punjabi Poori Subzi. We were first served the Subzi. It had a clear demarcation of colours. The one half of the bowl had a fiery red colour while the other half was a golden yellow curry with a dash of Curd. It was a basic Aloo Subzi (Potato Curry) with Chhole, topped up with Methrey Ki Chutney (the red coloured). Unlike Delhi, this Chutney is a bit sweet. The curry was spicy and yet the hint of curd and the sweetness of the chutney balanced the spices. Fresh out of the Kadhai, the golden fried Poori was impressively inflated. It had a hint of stuffing with mild seasoning. Was a quite an enjoyable and satisfying breakfast. Besides the tasty Poori Subzi, they sever the typical Khatta-Meetha (Sweet & Sour) Gajar-Shalgam-Gobhi Achaar (vegetable pickle). That was the highlight for me and I would have had at least three helpings. Google Location: Gandhi di hatti
Chhole Bhature at Oberoi Special
Although I was looking for Punjabi Luchi / Katlama with Chhole which we could not figure out, so this outlet, recommended by quite a few in the city, caught our fancy. The signboard says, “Delhi Paharganj Wale“. Why would I eat Paharganj Chhole Bhature coming all the way from Delhi? But then our curiosity took us in. A relatively bigger sized flat Bhatura stuffed with Paneer and Dhania was served with dark brown Chhole. The Chhole were topped with a dash of Coriander Chutney. The Bhatura was fine to taste and Chhole, to my surprise, were quite good. The taste was even a shade better than Delhi. A quick chat with the second generation owner revealed that they had brought the cooks from Paharganj, Delhi to replicate the taste here in Jalandhar. Google Location: Oberoi Special
Amritsar Kulcha at Swami Refreshment
When in Punjab, Kulcha for lunch is always a good idea, provided one is able to lay hands on a no-frills version. We were taken to this eatery which was jam packed for lunch. We had a waiting of about 10 minutes before we were let in and allotted a table. Our order comprised Aloo Pyaz Kulcha, Aloo Kulcha and Lachhewala Kulcha followed by Lassi. The order came in quite fast and the aroma it gave was invitingly enough to attack the plate without any further wait. The plate comprised One big sized stuffed Kulcha topped with a stick of Butter, a lavish serving of Punjabi Chhole, the tangy watery Onion Chutney and Carrot Pickle.
The Kulcha, fresh out of the Tandoor, was crisp and had a garnish of Sabut Dhania (whole Coriander). The outer crust led to a soft and silky inner which had a stuffing of Potato and Onion with a taste of Coriander and a lavish application of butter. The first morsel and it was like effortlessly melt in mouth, sign of a great Kulcha. The Chhole were typical mildly spiced Punjabi version done with soda. The Lacchewala version was again a stuffed Kulcha, with layers and hand crushed before serving so that one could pick up bite sizes morsels.
The cold Sweet Lassi had a rich body and a thick Malai floating atop. Served in big Steel Glass, a trademark of Punjab, was so refreshing that despite the satisfying lunch, the Lassi was a welcome wrap up. Google Location: Swami Refreshment
Bara With Chhole at Shri Narayan Dass Ji Bare Wale
I am told that this is an old establishment of the city started by the person after whose name the business is now run by his children and has few outlets in the city. The dish I tasted here was quite a revelation for me. The Vada or Bara or Bada is somewhat a cousin of the famous South Indian Vada, but with a Punjabi twist. It was closer to the Punjabi Urad Dal Bhalla but shaped in Vada style. Was flatter in shape as compared to the fluffy vada and yet had that customary hole in the middle. A bit pale in colour and did not have onions or garlic and was slightly high on Black Pepper. This crunchy outside and super soft inside Bara was served with Chhole (Chickpeas Curry). What a great combo !! The taste has to be experienced. I would recommend this as a must try, at least once, for sure. Google Location: Sh. Narayan Dass Ji Bare Wale
Fried Fish at Fish Corner
We had no problem in locating this place on the Cool Road as during the evening, there was a long queue of cars parked in front of the outlet. Since it was raining, we were served in the car itself. The service was pretty quick and the stuff was of great quality. Our Fried Fish portion had six large sized fillets of Sole Fish. The outer was super crisp which was not very thick and led the palate to a silky soft fish which had its own flavours. Served with runny green chutney and radish, the fish was a big hit with us. In no time, we demolished this portion and were ready to hit the next pitstop. Google Location: Fish Corner
Gianni Kharore Wala
This seems to be a famous place in the city. Located slightly off the main road, the place is yet easy to locate. It seemed that the place had a loyal fan following as there was rush of cars and the place was full inside. The straight faced Sardar ji, seemingly the owner-chef, on the counter was unwilling to listen to any request and would look towards you only when your turn comes.
Our order naturally was Kharore Soup. Unlike Delhi, the Kharore Soup here was a thick broth having quite a few pieces of meat or the Paya (trotters). While the broth was quite spicy and was just ok, the mutton pieces were super soft and flavourful. The meat melted in your mouth, effortlessly and one could suck out the tasty bone marrow with out any difficulty. I personally was not very impressed with the soup but the mutton took my heart. Google Location: Giani Kharore Wala
Aar Kay Vaishno Dhaba
Please don’t get mislead by the term Dhaba in the name. It is a decent restaurant in the city which is quite popular with the locals. At around 930 in the evening, the place was full with families enjoying their meal. The staff seemed to be quite professional and each table was being taken care of by the supervisors.
Our order comprised Dal Makhani with Lachha Parantha, Kadhi with Rice and was wrapped up with Gajar Ka Halwa or Gajrela, as they call it in Punjab.
Dal Makhani was typical rich Punjabi Kaali Dal which was silky in texture, indicating that it was slow cooked. The golden yellow Kadhi had a velvety texture, was aptly tangy with a seasoning and a flavourful Pakora. The Gajar Halwa was well done and had granular texture which I like, but for me, it scored less on the Ghee quotient. Our dinner was quite satisfying as we got an authentic Dhaba taste in a decent setting. If you are looking to have some typical Punjabi Meal in a comfortable setting, then this is the go to place. Google Location : AAR KAY VAISHNO DHABA
On our way back, we went to the famous Lovely Sweets, the iconic Halwai shop (turned into a huge business and educational chain) and got some stuff packed for home. We had just one day, so could explore only these many places. There is an outlet which serves one of the best Jalebi and sadly we had no time left to go there. Similarly, there is an outlet which is famous for its local ice cream and the kulfi and again we were short on time and had to give it a miss. I am sure, there are quite a few more. If you know of any such outlet, do share with me so that I could include it in my list for the next visit. Till then….
Bon Appetite !!