Sunday, April 29, 2012

In search of Good Food-Visit to Amritsar,Part-3(Kesar Da Dhaba)

Amritsar is the city of divine flavors and after you have paid your respects to the Guru. 
Head straightaway to Kesar da Dhaba..
There are dhabas in the country... and then there is Kesar Da Dhaba..
The locals here love it as much as they love Maa ke haath ka khaana...( Home food)
You will be happily directed through the bylanes, to the legendary Mecca of Vegetarian food,whichever part of Amritsar you may be in..

PS: Visit it only when you are strictly HUNGRY!! otherwise you will find it tragic to waste these delights..
You are greeted with this board, as you finally reach through a maze of  narrow lanes, of the market..
Menu is simple and the food wholesome..No Taam jhaam as they say.. 
Decor is simple as you sit down for your meal..
Prices- Affordable & Taste -Just wonderful..
Dishes are strictly made in Desi Ghee(100% Clarified Butter)  and you are served in a jiffy.
Before you know,you drown in the heavenly aroma of good Indian vegetarian food.
The Menu

Locals here are crazy about the Dal served,as much as we, after tasting the delicacy.. Chapati(Indian Bread) is crushed a bit before being served so that Ghee (clarified butter) spreads and you relish each morsel with the oooohs and aaahs... :)

A Chapati thali and Glass full of Lassi is all you need, for a good delightful lunch..
We were delighted by the sheer purity of the curry and dal being served.
Palak Paneer, Dal and 2 Parantha is all you need if you are in the mood for a good lunch but you end up ordering more & more..

We pay a visit again next morning for Breakfast, as one visit to this place, just doesn't suffice.
Aloo Paratha doesn't disappoint you either,you gulp it down with good Lassi and big bowl of curd.and huge Smile on your face.and thanking God for such a place. 
You are after all in the land of Great people and good food... 

We could not stop ourselves, from a quick chat with the owner..We enter the kitchen premises just to know how this place happened.
Estabilished in 1916 and now run by the next generation.
Not surprisingly, the warmth of the people exudes from within & we are greeted with smiles and mutual admiration of good food.
No wonder the food is so pure and fulfilling..

All the cooks and helpers here have been associated with this place for decades.They are warm and gladly show you around.You now see how much hard work goes into making that FOOOD!!
The legendary Dal ,is cooked for 12 hours, slow and steady ,before its served hot...
As we walk around,they continue telling us the history about the place and work in the same rigor.
Locals here love it so much that they do not cook it at home.. Its only a phone call away :)

Be it the Chole or Baingan ka Bharta or Paneer....Each taste is distinct and flavors as pure as the recipe itself Baingan ka Bharta and Palak Paneer wins your taste buds hands down.
Absolutely a blessing ..Served hot.

As we walk along,taking pictures, we see a man busy making hot Chapatis in the Tandoor.He has been here for 35 years, as a co-helper tells us...You only realize that it takes pure passion, dedication and patience to make a place in everyone's hearts 
After all you are in the land of Punjab... The land of 'Khalsa' & Of desi ghee, pure milk ,great people & good food...

There is also a takeaway counter adjoined to this kitchen, if you want to enjoy it at home for dinner..Dal stays good for 6-8 hours without a refrigerator..
We take it along as we head to catch a train and head back to Mumbai..

But before we leave,.How could we not have a sweet...A Desi Indian Meal can never be complete without a dessert!! 
Savour the Gulab Jamuns,Ras Malai or the Phirni before you head to the streets for more shopping!!

I tell you,God has been Kind & smiled up above..and You are spoilt for choices...
Gulab Jamuns


Phirnis..Also a clear favorite with the locals..& a must try here!!

As we walk back with a smile, we only realize what more do you need in life.. 

A clear sky, Fresh Air ,a good home and Great food...

Bon app├ętit!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

In search of Good Food-Visit to Amritsar,Part-2(Community Kitchen-Langar)

With these words, we enter the community kitchen(langar) at the Golden temple complex,Amritsar

The Lord himself is the farm Himself is the farmer Himself he grows and grinds the corn
Himself he cooks Himself he places in on a platter And Himself he eats too
Himself is the water Himself the toothpick Himself he offers a handful of water
Himself he calls the men to eat Himself he bids them off  
The Lord is merciful  He makes him walk in his will

Guru Amar Das created the community kitchen during his time as the third Sikh guru in the 16th century. Its purpose, he said, was to place all of humanity on the same plane.

As you enter the complex, you hear the clattering of the vessels is sure to catch your attention. Before you realize, you are passed on the plates and spoon for the meal.

Golden Temple’s langar(Guru ka langar) is the World’s largest free eatery.Each visitor here gets a wholesome vegetarian meal, served by volunteers 24/7
Anyone can eat for free here, and many, many people do. On a weekday, about 100,000 come. On weekends, almost twice as many people visit. 

Each visitor gets a wholesome vegetarian meal, served by volunteers.A regular meal consists of Roti(Flat Indian bread),lentils,vegetable curry and a sweet dish(generally kheer, i.e. dessert made up of milk and rice).
The meal is very simple and tasteful and why not, when hundreds of volunteers gather to prepare the food ,listening to the hyms being recited in the complex.

Tea is also served in bowls.You can sit down and thank God for the grace showered upon.The Tea has unique flavour because of the spices.
Next we visit to the kitchen , where the real action takes place. First we go to the 'roti machine'.
Here they are making Roti/Flat Indian bread from wheat flour. The flour is kneaded with water.

Then its pushed down in the machine.

The machine makes equal sized balls of these and passes them on to the next stage.

There a heavy roller, which rolls them to a flat ,round shape.

These flat round Rotis, when go into an oven, which is heats up the iron surface  on which these rotis are placed.

Straight from the oven, we get the Rotis/flat breads. They fall in as in an assembly unit.

Then a manual intervention is required, where volunteers, sort out the Rotis,remove the half baked ones and stack them together.

There is a one more kitchen in the complex, where they make these Rotis in the old fashioned way.

Some parts of the kitchen are powered in the same ways as done in olders times. they use logs/wood to fire up the stove.

The biggest pot/kadai that I have seen, is used to make the lentils. They say it can make upto to 4 quintals i.e. 400kg of Lentils in each shift and they do this 3 times a day. There is one more kitchen to assist, but not in this much quantity.

Constant churning and churning

This is how the dessert 'kheer' is made.

Also,there is a part of the kitchen, where the Utensils are washed and stacked.. All this is done by Volunteers, who perform 'Sewa' and experience the divine blessing.Its like working for lord himself.
The taste and purity of the food speaks for itself in the atmosphere.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In search of Good Food-Visit to Amritsar,Part-1

We required divine intervention to continue ahead with the blog, and what better place than Amritsar.
Amritsar:the spiritual capital of the Sikhs and gained its name, meaning "Holy Pool of Nectar", from the body of water around the Golden Temple.
We start our journey for search of good food with a visit to the golden temple(Harmindir Sahib). So in this part we will cover the visit to the Golden temple and continue with the places known in Amritsar for excellent mouth watering food.

To reach and plan your Visit to Amritsar, refer to the below link
Amritsar Wikitravel
More details on Golden temple(Harmandir_Sahib)
Golden Temple,Amritsar

Harmandir Sahib is considered holy by Sikhs. The most holy text of Sikhism, the Guru Granth Sahib, is always present inside the gurudwara. Its construction was mainly intended to build a place of worship for men and women from all walks of life and all religions to come and worship God equally

The Golden temple is open all around the year,365 days and for 24 hrs. You may visit the complex at any time of the day/night, however, there is a ceremony at sunrise and sunset,so 'darshan' is stopped at that time. The morning ceremony (Palki Sawari) is around 4.30 am and the evening one (Samapti) is around 9.30 pm,this depends on the winter/summer season,so you need to check accordingly.

It's one of the calmest place We have ever visited,you can straight away walk into the complex ,just need to deposit the shoes at the shoes stand in the complex and cover your head.(which is a mark of respect)

Construction of the gurudwara was begun by Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, and completed by his successor, Guru Arjan Dev. In 1604, Guru Arjan Dev completed the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and installed it in the gurudwara.

The present day Golden Temple was rebuilt in 1764 by Maharaja Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (1718–1783) with the help of other Misl Sikh chieftains. Between 1802–1830 Ranjit Singh did the sewa of adding gold plating and marble to the gurudwara, while the interior was decorated with fresco work and gemstones.

The gurdwara is surrounded by a large lake or temple tank, known as the Sarovar, which consists of Amrit ("holy water" or "immortal nectar")

Devotess line up for the 'darshan',which generally takes 1 hr.

At the exit, you receive the 'prasad' (Sacred pudding),made up of wheat flour,ghee,sugar and lots of devotion.

Most Sikh people visit Amritsar and the Harmandir Sahib at least once during their lifetime, particularly and mostly during special occasions in their life such as birthdays, marriages, childbirth, etc.

A Sikh gaurd at the Golden temple.

One of the most important festivals is Baisakhi, which is celebrated in the second week of April (usually the 13th). Sikhs celebrate the founding of the Khalsa on this day and it is celebrated with fervour in the Harmandir Sahib. Other important Sikh religious days such as the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur, the birthday of Guru Nanak, etc., are also celebrated with religious piety.

Similarly Diwali is one of the festivals which sees the Harmandir Sahib beautifully illuminated with Divas/Diyas (lamps); lights and fireworks are discharged.

In the next part, Visit to the community kitchen at Golden temple.