When in Chandigarh, if you want good food, you would be spoilt for choices. And like me, if you are fond of Draught Beer, again you will be spoilt for choices. In a stay of less than a day, I had Beer, Lassi, Missa Parantha, Anda Parantha, Tangri Kebab, Mutton Rara, Dal Makhani, GolGappe, Tikki, Chat and what not. You want to know where? Please read on.
What triggered off this story, was a tweet from an online connect from Mumbai seeking recommendation for good Dhaba food in Chandigarh. I suggested a couple of outlets out of my long ago experience, albeit with a rider that those were good at a point of time and I may not be able to vouch for the current reality. This triggered the thought that sadly, I have not explored the city much for food. As the luck would have it, the very next week I had to go to Chandigarh for some work and the same day, this friend of mine tweeted about her great experience at Pal Dhaba in Chandigarh with due credits given to Yours Truly.
Chandigarh, the Capital of two states namely, Punjab and Haryana, has an influence of the food of both. And being a modern city, it beautifully blends authenticity and modernity. If one Googles about the food and places to eat, not many results throw up. A few videos on YouTube and a few blogs. All of them almost talk about the same eateries.
We were in Chandigarh about two weeks ago, for less than 24 hours, which allowed us to cover three meals in the city. So, have tried to put a framework for you to help plan your food itinerary when in the city. Here we go. But, before that, a word of caution. There is street food, there is authentic food, there is great food, BUT available from good, modern and hygienic outlets.
We were staying at The Lalit, Chandigarh. Had all the plans to go to Gopal Sweets in Sector 35 for their famous Chhole Bhature. But then, at the last moment, two out of the three of us decided in favour of the Buffet Breakfast at the hotel (which I normally resist). The thinking was that one gets much better Chhole Bhature in Delhi. So, lets stick to the hotel and have a leisurely breakfast. Frankly, I was not impressed with the spread in the hotel. So, stuck to my all time favourite Anda Parantha. Not the classic one but here is a hack for you. I normally ask the server to get me a freshly made Aloo Parantha from the kitchen and not the reheated ones from the buffet. And ask the Live Egg Counter to make me a plain Omelette. Normally, both arrive simultaneously. Let me tell you, this is my go to combo if I do not relish any other thing on the buffet. This is normally preceded by Cut Fruits, Fresh Fruit Juice and a bowl of Yoghurt and wrapped up with a cup of strong Masala Chai (Milk Tea).
Lunch At Hotel Grand Punjab
At about 20 minutes drive from Zirakpur, you reach Banur, a village in Punjab where on the main highway itself, you have this modern looking cafe. By the way, this has been there for about six decades. They are famous for their Lassi. I had had it many a times during my innumerous official trips to Rajpura, an industrial town nearby.
We had come here for their Lassi but a look at the menu and we decided to ditch our plans for having lunch anywhere else. We ordered Missa Aloo Stuffed Parantha which was served with Butter and Pudina Chutney. This goldish Tandoori Parantha was a normal Aloo Parantha but done with Besan Bater instead of the normal wheat one. The looks were enticing and so was the aroma. The first bite and it was piping hot, crisp on the outer and moist inside. The Aloo stuffing was aptly spiced. The Pudina Chutney had that Punjabi freshness of the mint leaves which were coarsely ground. Each bite, a combo of crispy Besan, Aloo stuffing engulfed in Butter and had with a dash of Pudina Chutney was an experience in itself.
Our Lassi order consisted a Mint Lassi, a regular Sweet Lassi and a Mango Lassi. One cannot describe this experience. The richness of silken smooth Lassi which was not overtly sweet and had a thick layer of Butter, which needed to be scooped with a spoon, is an unparalleled experience. The mint version had the hint of fresh Pudina while the Mango version had the rich flavour of the king of fruits and none of these flavours interfered with the taste of the quality Curd used. In fact the flavours enhanced the taste of the curd. If your are fond of Lassi, then this is the place to be at.
Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/HCPvi7U1AtB6XoED9
Chat At Garg Chaat
This, almost five decades old outlet, is quite famous with the locals and even in these times, one could spot locals coming in hoards and enjoying their tangy cravings. Even a local politician with his security in tow could be seen enjoying his fill along with his family.
We tried Golgappe (Panipuri), the Atta version. One of the best, crispy and refreshing. The mildly tangy water with a hint of sweetness was a delight to enjoy. Mix Chat is their specialty which is a version of Dahi Bhalla where besides the Bhalle, you get Pakori and Papadi with Boiled Potatoes, Black Chickpeas mixed with Curd, Sweet and Tangy Chutneys and spices. Practically, it is ensemble of textures and flavours in a single bowl which is not only good looking but a delight for the palate. The crispy Aloo Tikki was our final call at this outlet. The Tikki too was crispy outside with flavourful stuffing inside and was served with a dash of Beaten Curd, Sweet and Tangy Chutneys and garnished with radish and beetroot. They have a long menu and serve some modern stuff too but since it was a chat outlet, we preferred to stick to the chat items which are really good.
Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MRbxBdAQJB8cqwaa9
Tap Beer At The Brew Estate
It would not be an exaggeration if I say that it was Chandigarh which introduced the concept of Draught Beer to North India. In my college days, whenever I visited Chandigarh, and even later, the first choice used to be the Draught Beer. In those days, the choices used to be limited though. This time, after a gap of many many years, I was in Chandigarh during the evening and wanted to have Tap Beer. A quick search on the net threw up so many options which confused me further. Best option was to check with the hotel Concierge. I was recommended The Brew Estate.
A short drive from the hotel and we were there in this decent Microbrewery. The evening started with a tasting session of German Wheat Beer, Belgian Wheat Beer, German Lager Beer and German Dark Lager. I settled for the Belgian Wheat, a light bodied craft beer with refreshing notes. Others settled for a drink and some Fresh Lime Soda.
A couple of Mugs of that freshly brewed Beer were enjoyed with Feta Stuffed Mushroom Caps served with Mango Salsa. We went by the local advice and were happy. However, I am sure there would be many more such breweries and are to be explored. Next time, I shall research a bit more and try a few more. Our evening had begun on the right note and we were tanked up to hop to at least two outlets to enjoy our dinner.
Google Location: https://g.page/the-brew-estate-chandigarh?share
Tangri Kebab At Tehal Singh’s Dhaba
I had enjoyed dinner at this place about twenty years ago and remembered that they served good food. So went to this place to have our starters for the evening. Our choice was Stuffed Tangri Kebab. Four reasonably large sized Chicken Leg Pieces, engulfed in White Creamy Sauce sat pretty in a steel plate, making a good photo op.
The aroma of freshly roasted chicken meat coated with spices and butter hit the nose. This was an invitation enough of what lied ahead. The first morsel and the meat was silken soft. The coating of spices with the cream over the meat enhanced the flavours. The inside was juicy and succulent meat. I had decided to have just one but could not stop having two. This is a must try. Their dinner menu is also very good but we had decided to try at least one more place, so left after the very enjoyable Tangri.
Google Location: https://goo.gl/maps/mn7iDvHjmQqoirTy7
Dinner At Pal Dhaba
You reach this market and would get confused for there are two outlets with the same name. One is right in the middle of the market and confronts you while the other one is on the corner with a wide seating capacity outside. This corner one also displays “Orignate 1960” on its signboard. Without getting into any debate, since it had an open seating, we opted for this one. But then it was not a cake walk. It was almost 10 in the evening and the place was completely full with each table taken. We had to wait for about ten minutes and then got a table in the middle. Later this one turned out to be a good table.
It so happened that the table next to us also got vacant and a handsome guy with a girl and a friend came an occupied this one. Then we noticed some hustle bustle around and realised that this was the new celeb, Rahul Vaidya, the finalist of the recently concluded famous TV reality show Big Boss. He had come to have dinner with his friend Actor Disha Parmar. This ensued a quick chat and him asking for a recommendation on what to eat there. Yours Truly was more than happy to recommend Mutton Rara.
Our order comprised Mutton Rara (of course) and Dal Makhani. And we were glad that we ordered these. While in the vicinity of Punjab and that too at an iconic Dhaba, one can never go wrong with Dal Makhani. Yes, it was that typical slow cooked, silken, rich, flavorful and aromatic. The Mutton Rara had big pieces of meat engulfed in a thick gravy of minced meat. The meat was succulent soft which needed no efforts to come off the bone. The thick gravy was flavoured with well balanced spices enhancing the taste of the meat. By the time we wrapped up our dinner, the place had become almost deserted for the markets were shut before 11 to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols.
These were just a few outlets which we tried and were quite happy with the food. Yes, there are many more to be explored which I shall make it a point to try during my future visits and shall update this food story. If you have favourites in the city, do share with me. Till then….
Bon Appetit !!
You could read my other food stories on nearby Punjab here: