Housing the Golden Temple, Amritsar, beckons travellers from all over the world in search of an experience that gets etched vividly in everyone’s hearts who pay a visit to this flamboyant city. With myriad food options, according to some, Amritsar, is the culinary capital of India; think makki ki roti with saag, crispy fish fry, white butter topped lassi or the infamous Amritsari kulcha with choley.
For its warm hospitality, history filled lanes and drool-inducing food, Amritsar has always been close to my heart and even though I have visited thrice, I always feel that there’s still a lot that needs to be explored.
My last visit, however, was one replete with delicious grub, all thanks to the magnificent Punjab Food Festival organised by Dainik Jagran on 11th and 12th February 2018.
While getting up in the morning isn’t something that I look up to, but 10th February was an exception where I happily woke up at 5 in the morning to catch a train to Amritsar at 6:30 AM. The train journey wasn’t as comfort-filled but I knew what I had in store over the weekend and hence, I didn’t fret a little. I finally reached Amritsar at 3:00 and jostled immediately to the hotel.
Located in Ranjit Avenue, around 15 minutes away from the railway station, Best Western Merrion was my haunt to rest and unwind for the next 3 days. Having over 4000 hotels across 180 countries worldwide, I knew that Best Western wouldn’t disappoint and it didn’t. With an all-day diner, a coffee shop, a cocktail bar, bar beside the pool and a well-equipped gymnasium at the disposal, Best Western Merrion turned out to be the perfect hotel to stay at. Being centrally located, I was able to navigate my way through anywhere I wanted to go within 20-30 minutes!
While day 1 was spent relaxing at the hotel and enjoying delicious grub for eateries in the vicinity, the next two days were filled with a gluttony journey comprising of nothing but food and more food!
Held at the historic Gobindgarh Fort, the Punjab Food Festival became a melting pot of culture, tradition and food. A “gidah” performance commenced the enormous food festival being held for the first time in Punjab. Multiple dance performances, camel and horse rides, traditional arcade games and live music added on to the charm of the festival.
The Food Festival featured food from our neighbouring country: Pakistan and Iran along with state specialities from UP, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Local Restaurants, dhabas, eateries, hotel management institutes further added charm to the extravagant festival.
While everything that I ate was delicious in its own decided decadence, Saal Flavours, the Kashmiri Food stall by Mr. Sunil Tikoo became the unrivalled winner, with multiple people flocking towards the stall, only to grab on to some tabak maas, kashmiri dum aloo, zafrani pulav et al. Binge eating at its prime saw me demolishing chole bhatur, Amritsari fish fry, kebabs, kulche and what not. Over 35 eateries took part, some of which were: Pandit ji di Hatti serving aloo paranthas, Bubby’s serving Amritsari fish fry, Pritam dhaba serving good old North Indian food amongst others.
Dr. Pushpesh Pant embraced the festival by sharing his piece of knowledge about the food and culture of Punjab, making us understand in further detail, how intricate and beautiful it is. Interaction and live cooking by famous celebrity Chef’s, Ajay Chopra, and Amrita Raichand was like icing on the cake.
Celebrity Chef Amrita Raichand, from the famous show “Mummy ka Magic” showcased the recipe of her version of samosa made with beetroot and sweet potato, the recipe of which I will definitely try out. Master Chef Hiral, too, demonstrated a healthy recipe, prepared with leftover vegetables, stating that everything that be utilised and can be converted into something delicious.
Both the days showcased some great flavours in terms of food along with a wide variety of performances and a dose of knowledge with discussions. And both the days concluded on a musical note with band performances, making everyone groove to the tunes of classic pop!
The experience was unlike any other and I’d like to thank Dainik Jagran and Food Bloggers Council of India(FBCI) for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the festival. It was a weekend well spent!