It was my first ever trip to Punjab. My grandparents originally came from Punjab before they moved to central India but I had never had a chance to visit before December 2015. My whole family decided to take a trip to Amritsar in Punjab as I had long wanted to visit the Golden Temple.
We took a train from New Delhi to Amritsar which is always a little adventure for the kids. The Indian railways are unique and New Delhi Railway Station is the busiest and largest in India! We love to do atleast one train journey whenever we are in India and this time was no exception. We were served snacks, a hot meal and pudding in our 6 hour long journey. The next day we went to the temple and the moment I entered through the arches of the temple it was amazing. I have seen so many pictures of the temple but to actually be standing in front of it was surreal.
The lungar, free kitchen, is an essential part of any Gurdwara. Here the food is cooked by sevadars (volunteers) and is served without discrimination to all. They make fresh vegetarian food every day and serve it hot.
The Golden Temple kitchen feeds upto 500,000 people a day. I was totally amazed at how organised and systematic the kitchen was. Every department had loads of volunteers doing their job in silence and with great speed. From the chopping of the vegetables to the cooking, serving and then the washing up, it was all done smoothly and super fast. I was just amazed at the scale of things, from the amount of peeling and chopping to the size of the pans and then the amount of washing up at the end, it all works like a well oiled machinery.
We went back to the temple in the night to get the stunning views of the Golden Temple in the night lights. It was all so quiet and calm. We sat there for a couple of hours taking it all in and came back very relaxed and refreshed.
The next day we went to the local markets, and the colours and buzz there was very exciting. There were all sorts of fantastic and beautiful varieties of fabric and also amazing handmade shoes. And in the midst of all that was some very delicious street food from piping hot alu tikki to super sweet jalebi, lots of chole and bhature and some crispy chaat. I could not get enough of it!
The next few days in Amritsar I tried to find a bit more about their special dishes. I have grown up eating punjabi food but to actually eat that amazing food in Punjab itself was very satisfying. With the knowledge of a few locals we found just the right places to eat, little hidden gems where we found the most delicious food.
Punjabi food has a wide variety of flat breads which they serve with all the lovely curries. Here I tried quite a few and absolutely loved the fact that they always made the bread fresh to order, even in most homes bread is made fresh and served piping hot with the meal. In the trip I tried a lot of food, each dish better than the other.
The food highlight of the trip was this butter chicken I tried in Makhans Fish and Chicken corner, a street side dhaba. This was hands down the best butter chicken I have ever eaten. And the best bit was this crispy, flaky delicious laccha paratha, piping hot from the tandoor, which they served with the curry to scoop up all the deliciousness. You can try my version of Butter Chicken here.
Over the next few months I will try and share some of these recipes with you, meanwhile you can check out some of the north Indian curries on my Youtube channel ‘Food with Chetna’.