Holding the title of the most populous and largest city in the Indian state of Punjab is not trivial. The city of Ludhiana, however, has never been a place of irrelevancy. Founded by the members of the ruling Lodhi dynasty in the 15th century, it has always been an important outpost, a centre of economy, and a hub of sporting events and celebrations. The city has many historical and cultural sites and sights, boasts a developed transport infrastructure, and all the pleasures of modernity combined with traditional Indian sensibilities. Food is no exception.
It's exotic Indian street food, a set of tangy spicy snacks from North India. This dish is made from potatoes, crispy fried bread, chickpeas or gram and aromatic spices. Chaat means "licking one's fingers while eating" in Hindi.
To really feel the ambience and the atmosphere of an Indian city, you should first try the food consumed every day in any condition. For example, there's chaat, a kind of savoury snack that originated in India, typically served as an hors d'oeuvre or at roadside tracks from stalls or food carts. The original chaat recipe is a mixture of potato pieces, crisp fried bread dahi vada or dahi bhalla, gram or chickpeas and tangy-salty spices, with sour Indian chili and saunth, fresh green coriander leaves, and yogurt for garnish.
Sharman Jain Sweets is the place to go in this case.
Bhatoora is a traditional Indian puffy bread that is fried and seasoned with curd and maida. It can be stuffed with mashed potatoes or cottage cheese and it is served with chole or chickpea curry.
If snacks are over and done with, it's time to try something more substantial. The meat of the issue will come later, but now it's time for bread. For example, the fluffy deep-fried leavened sourdough bread called bhatoora. Its main components are rather simple: the all-purpose flour "maida", dahi yogurt, ghee or oil, and either yeast or baking powder. Small balls of dough are either hand-rolled or flattened, then deep-fried until they puff up into a lightly browned, soft, fluffy bread.
Shree Ganpati Ji Channe Bhature will have you covered in this regard.
It's a popular dish in India, a spicy snack or entree dish made of a mix of vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes and onions), spices and herbs and served with soft buns. Bhaji can be accompanied by a salad a slice of lemon.
Now it's time for more hefty dishes. For example, you can always try bhaji, a type of fritters made from spicy hot vegetables, commonly onion, and has several variants. These variants include chili bhaji, potato bhaji, onion bhaji, plantain bhaji, and bread bhaji. Bhajis are a component of traditional Punjabi Pakistani & Gujarati Marathi, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu cuisine served on special occasions and at festivals.
Have a cup of tea or coffee with a bhaji at Pandit Ji Special Pav Bhaji.
Momos are steamed meat, cheese or vegetable dumplings, their name means "steamed buns". This dish was introduced by Tibetan refugees who came to India in the 1960s. It's a common food in the Himalayan regions of North India.
Upping the stakes, let's talk about dumplings. Indian cuisine has different variations of those, including cute bite-size dumplings made with a spoonful of stuffing wrapped in dough and called momos. The trick in the preparations of momos is that when they are steamed or steam-fried, the meat or vegetable fillings become succulent as they produce an intensely flavoured broth. Fun fact: the name "momo" actually came from China where such dumplings first became the concept.
Urban Turban has some of the nicest momos.
It's an authentic Indian dish that originated in Muslim centers of Delhi. Biryani is cooked from meat or fish, basmati rice, vegetables, eggs and local spices. Rice is usually made separately from the thick sauce. The name of the dish means "fried" or "roasted" in Persian.
Here's something even more unusual to the wandering eater. Biryani has become popular in Europe and across Asia in recent years, but this mixed rice dish actually originated among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. The general recipe includes Indian spices, rice, and usually some type of meat - chicken, beef, goat, lamb, prawn, or fish. In some cases, the dish is made without any meat whatsoever.
Biryani By Kilo - Ludhiana is a good spot to check out.
It's a delicious tandoori snack coming from India. Paneer tikka is cottage cheese chunks marinated in yogurt curd and local spices, grilled in a tandoor and served hot with chaat masala and lemon juice. It's a vegetarian alternative to chicken tikka.
After trying decent Indian food mixes, we should proceed to something even spicier. Paneer tikka is a beloved local food made from chunks of paneer marinated in spices and grilled in a tandoor. The chunks are marinated in spices and are then arranged on a stick with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. These sticks are grilled in a tandoor and the dish is thereafter served hot, seasoned with lemon juice and chaat masala.
THE YELLOW CHILLI has great vegetarian tikka.
This national Indian dish is cooked from chicken marinated in a dahi yogurt and fragrant spices and grilled in a clay oven - tandoor. Tandoori chicken is such a juicy and flavourful appetizer.
If you don't want purely vegetarian options, there's always the magnificent Indian approach to making meat-based dishes. One example is tandoori chicken, a chicken dish prepared by roasting chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices in a tandoor, a cylindrical clay oven. There is actually a range of tandoori recipes for whole grilled chicken, some of which are cooked in a tandoor and others over charcoal.
Aman Chicken has some of the best tandoori recipes around.
Butter chicken is also known as Murg Makhani, it's a common Indian dish made of tandoori chicken marinated in a spiced tomato gravy. This sauce is rich in cream and butter and it consists of lemon juice, salt, ginger garlic paste, dahi yogurt and garam masala.
Traditionally known as murgh makhani, this Indian dish continues the tradition of perfecting chicken-based recipes. Butter chicken comprises a type of curry made from chicken with a spiced tomato and butter sauce called makhan. Chicken is marinated for several hours in a mixture of lemon juice, dahi yoghurt, Kashmiri red chili, salt, garam masala, ginger paste, and garlic paste. Tandoor is the cooking method of choice, but the dish may be grilled, oven-roasted, or pan-fried.
Chicken Plaza is the venue of choice for butter chicken.
Naan is a very popular Indian oven-baked flatbread with a chewy texture. It's traditionally served hot and it goes with butter or ghee. This type of bread is widespread in Asian countries.
After all the serious dishes from the paragraphs above, it's time to settle for something smaller again. Naan is a leavened, oven-baked or tawa-fried flatbread usually leavened with yeast or with bread starter which is leavened naan dough left over from a previous batch. The dish is cooked in a tandoor, making it stand out from other variations of naan found across Asia. Milk or yoghurt may also be used to impart distinct tastes to the naan.
Baba Chicken is a good place to have a meal with naan.
It's a common Indian dahi drink, a tasty blend of water, yogurt, fruit and spices. Lassy can be sweet or salty but in any case, this drink is so refreshing and healthy.
With all the hot spicy food on this list, it would only be sensible to end it with a drink. One of the more popular regional drinks in Ludhiana is a variation of buttermilk called lassi. It is a blend of yoghurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. There's a variation of the classic recipe, a sweet lassi flavoured with sugar, rosewater or lemon, strawberry or other fruit juices. Classic salty lassi is similar to doogh, while modern sweet lassi is like milkshakes.
Friends Dhaba (R) is the place of choice.
As you can see, Ludhiana is a city full of life and of great food offered in many interesting places. Enjoy it if you get the chance.