5 Places to eat at Srinagar

Okay this time, I am back with it again. Srinagar this time. The Paradise on earth.

Disclaimer: I am not pro. I can only write about my experiences. Forgive me for my innocence

1.Ahdoos

  • Best for Kashmiri delicacies.
  • Located at Ahdoos Hotel, Residency Road
  • My Favourites: Wazwan, Mutton Badami Pasinda, Mutton Dhania Qurma and Rogan Josh.

2.  Muhal Darbar 

  • Best for Kashmiri delicacies
  • Located at Residency Road
  • My Favorites: Rogan Josh, Mutton Yakhni, Rista, and Keema Naan.

3. Lhasa

  • Best for Chinese and Tibetian food
  • Located at Boulevard Road.
  • My Favorites: Thukpa and soups.

4. Asha Bengali Dhaba

  • Best bengali food available in Srinagar
  • Located on the ground floor of Claridge guest house.
  • My Favorites: They mostly have thalis. Its the usual bengali meals alu posta, katla macher jhal, murghir jhol. **Recommended only for bengali tongues like me who feel deprived without macher jhol ar bhaat, otherwise skip this, its not the best bengali food.

5. Nathus

  • Best for breakfast and strictly vegetarian.
  • Located at the Boulevard Road.
  • My Favorites: Chola Bhatura, Pav Bhaji and a range of sweet dishes.
    **Highly recommended for breakfast.

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Something I cant skip mentioning:

  1. Try Peera’s rajma chawal enroute Srinagar
  2. Sheep kebabs in old Kashmir Streets.
  3. Sewaiya in various streets of Kashmir.
  4. The home-cooked food the houseboat owners provide is awesome and its a must try.

 

 

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Things to do in Amritsar

Places to Visit:

  • The Golden temple: the main attraction of Amritsar, holiest shrine of Sikhism but millions of people, both pilgrims and tourist visit from all over the world. Its open all day, the temple door shuts down from 1am to 3am.
  • Wagah border: Located 29kms from the city, wagah is the only road border crossing between India and Pakistan. It lies between Amristar and Lahore. Thousands of people gather daily at sunset, to see the extraordinary and boisterous ceremony of lowering the national flags on the border crossing. Autos/Taxis are available from the Golden temple Gate on both private and shared basis.
  • Jallianwala Bagh: At a 2min walking distance from the Golden temple is this Garden. But it holds a very important place in our Indian history for its tragic event in 1919. It has a museum which shows us some parts from history. And, there is a light and sound show happening in the evening which recreates the events from the past. Usually open from 7am to 5pm. The light and sound show’s timming varies with winter and summer timmings.
  • Town Hall: 1km from the Golden temple is the town hall, the house of a lot of restaurants and shopping centres.  Very near to it, is the Partition Musuem.
  • Durgiana Temple: Around 2kms from the Golden temple is the Durgiana Mandir. Its the virtual replica of the Golden temple.Its devoted to Goddess Durga, but they also call it the laxmi narayan temple. Open from 6am to 10am.
  • Gobindgarh Fort: Another 2kms from the Durgiana Temple is this Fort. I couldn’t visit this one because it is under construction since the last one year. But what I have read and heard is its an architecture lover’s wonder. It’s made of bricks and lime, and is laid out in a square. It has 25 cannons mounted on its ramparts. The main entrance, Nalwa Gate, Killer Gate is the back entrance. An underground tunnel runs towards Lahore.
  • Mata Lal Devi Mandir: 2kms from Gobindgarh fort and 3.5kms from Golden temple. The temple is the shrine of 20th century female saint Mata Lal Devi Ji popularly known as ‘Pujya Mata Ji’. It was built on the lines of the sacred Vaishnodevi temple in Katra, Jammu. You have to walk across caves and little water channels to reach the temple and the locals call it ‘Gufa Vaishno Devi Ji’.
  • Rambagh Gardens, Summer Palace, Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama: 3.5kms from the golden temple and 2.5 kms from the Amritsar railway station. Visit these places if you have time and is interested in the historical past of Amritsar. The battles fought and won. The summer palace is now being restored and converted into a museum. It is one of the earliest examples of a maintenance free cooling system.
  • Ram Tirath: 14 kms from Gobindgarh Fort, 15 kms from Golden temple is Ram Tirath.This historic temple is famous for Hindus. Popularly believed to be Rishi Valmiki’s ashram, Luv-kush’s birthplace, The natives believe the famous battle between Luv-Kush and Lord Rama was fought in the surrounding forests.

 

Things to Shop:

  • Amritsari juttis
  • Woolen garments
  • Punjabi salwaar suits
  • Phulkari stoles and dupattas
  • Sandalwood carvings
  • khandas, Karas (sikh religious bangle), swords, daggers and Sikh symbols made in metals

Things to Eat:

Aalo Kulcha, Amritsari Fish, Lassi, sarson ka saag. For restaurant recommendations.. 5 Places to binge in Amritsar

For the whole travelogue: A day in Amritsar!

5 Places to binge in Amritsar

Okay.. I know there are lots and lots of options in each city.. but here I am starting a “Top5”. My Favorite Five rather.

I hope this will be quick and short.

1.Surjit Food Plaza
+91-1835115606 +91-1833294334

Nehru Shopping Complex, Lawrence Road

My Favourites: Amritsari Fish, Tandoori Chicken, and Makhan Fish.

2.Kesar Da Dhabha
+91-183 2552103
+91-183 2532227
Shastri Market, Town Hall.

My Favorites: Alu Paratha Thali, Gopi Paratha Thali, Dal, and Rajma.

3. Crystal Restaurant
+91-183-2225555
+91-183-2229999
Crystal Chowk, Queens Road.

My Favorites: Kadai paneer, Biriyani, Amritsari aalo, and Butter chicken.

4.Bharawan Da Dhaba
+91-183 2532575
+91-183 5020575
Town Hall

My Favorites: Amritsari aalo kulcha, Dal Makhani, and Lassi.
**Highly recommended for breakfast.

5.The Golden temple Langar.
served inside the temple premises. ITS A MUST TRY IF ITS YOUR FIRST TIME IN AMRITSAR.
**I could have included “Sarhad, Attari” at Number5, but its fancy interiors impressed me more than their food.

A day in Amritsar!

We’re suppossed to reach Amritsar at 8:55am but surprisingly our train was some 15 mins early. We had no pre-bookings done. So, once we reached the station. We started searching for some options to stay. I made my mom sit with all our luggage, while me and my sister started walking out in the streets of Amritsar. I entered some hotels nearby, but was highly disappointed with their untidy rooms and high tariff.

I was busy clicking photos when my sister pointed out the PUNJAB TOURISM OFFICE, which was about some 5mins from the station. We entered the office and that is where I decided staying at the GOLDEN TEMPLE was the best option.

I feared the idea for we had a late night train to catch that very night. Precisely we had only one day at Amritsar. We’re hungry and planless.

I found a small road-side stall selling the famous ‘amritsari-aalo-kulcha’. We hurried to eat. The Sardarji at the stall told us again.. to stay at the golden temple was the best option. We finised eating our ‘aalo-kulcha’, packed another 2 for my mom and decided to stay at the golden temple. We went back to the station, hired an auto and started for the golden temple. We had to bargain to get the fair from rs.100 to rs.60/- Later, we got to know the fair was rs.50
Golden temple was some 20mins away from the station. We reached the golden temple at something around 10:30am. We had a slight confusion for this was our first visit to the city and the golden temple premises had many gates. After wandering for something about an hour or so, we finally found Hari Niwas. We immediately booked an A.C Room for a tariff of Rs.300, and since it was already 12noon. We checked in. We took half an hour to de-stress and then started for the temple. picture-110

In about half an hour, we were done with the darshan. picture-087

Followed by our darshaan, we went to eat at the Langar. We kept strolling for about another half an hour at the streets nearby, looking at the small stalls.
We found many auto-drivers shouting “Wagah-border”. We found that if you hire your family a car, they’ll charge you Rs.800 whereas, if you agree to go on share.. they’ll charge you rs.80 per head. We kept strolling along the shops for a little while and then we entered Jalianwala bagh, which is about a 5min walk from the temple premesies. It was supposed to close early and there was not much to see. So, I clicked some quick pictures and we got out of it. There was not much to shop apart from some “amritsari juti” in the huge street market in and around the Golden temple and Jallianwala Bagh. I bought a few pairs and decided to hit upon the famous Amritsari Food. I was very excited about the Punjabi Food.. Cuisine rather; and I did quite some homework too. I had certain names in my head. I started with the very familiar ‘Gol-gappe’. Post that we took our ride to Attari or like they Say Wagah Border. After sunset,  it was almost mid-evening by the time we returned from Attari. We made a quick trip to Durgiana Temple, shopping complex. And finally filled our tummies at the “Kesar Da Dhaba”. And about the temple, I didn’t see much resemblence though but localites say, it’s the replica of the Golden temple. However post that we took an auto to the Surjit Food Plaza. We thought of snacking their specialities- ‘Amritsari Fish’, ‘Tandoori Chicken’ and ‘Makhan Fish’.
We took an auto back to the golden temple area. We’re amazed to see the ‘papad-bazar’. We shopped for some ethnic ‘patialas’ and finally head towards the temple. My mom and my sister headed for our room whereas I ran towards the sarovar. I wanted to click the evening lights of the Golden temple. We sat by the sarovar, it was so calm and serene. whatsapp-image-2016-10-17-at-22-07-48

But like all good things come to an end.
It was about 9:30pm, when we decided to check out. It was 10pm when we hired an auto for the station. We asked him if we could have our dinner somewhere on our way. He recommended Crystal Restaurant at the Crystal Chowk. It was on the way towards the railway station. We had kadai paneer, biriyani, amritsari aalo and butter chicken for dinner. And, I must say, The FOOD WAS AWESOME.
After our food was done, we headed towards the station to know our train was some hours late.
We had our reservations at Bhatinda-JammuTawi Exp(19225). The scheduled departure was at 1:10am. It arrived at 2:00am and departed at 2:10am. That is how the beautiful day at the north-western city of India ends.

Keypoints.
1. there are two train by the name hwh-asr. but dont get confused. follow the numbers. hwh-asr mail(13005) takes 37hrs and hwh-asr exp(13049) takes some 44hrs.
2. Pre-bookings are not required, rooms are quite easily available at the golden temple premises.. unless you aren’t travelling during any of their festivals.
3. For people visiting GOLDEN TEMPLE for the first time, and willing to stay there, make sure you enter the temple through the ‘Panitanki’ gate or ‘hariniwas’, thats the place to stay in golden temple.
4. Start for Jalinwala Bagh early, we missed most of it, for it shuts down by 5pm.
5. We missed Oswal Factory Outlet. Yes, Amritsar has it. Do check it out incase you want to shop for winter garments.
6. Make sure you go to ‘Attari/Wagah Border’.
7.For people willing to eat at ‘Surjit Food Plaza’. Its at Nehru Shopping Complex, Lawrence Road..
8. For people willing to eat at ‘Crystal’. Its at Crystal Chowk, Queens Road.
9. There are some 3 trains that go to Jammu from Amritsar. Firstly, the one that we travelled at. Secondly, the Tatanagar one, and the other one is the Rourkela one. In anycase if you are thinking of taking the next two, let me tell you they are long distant trains.. and would always be late from their scheduled time.

P.S- All the fares and tariffs are of 2011.

“Rajma-Chawal” en-route Srinagar!

So, it was around an odd October of 2011 that I visited Srinagar. It was the day of odds.. but admist all I found this wonderful cook who almost burnt my tastebuds.. and made a hardcore non-vegetarian believe that there exists vegetarian food thats drool-worthy too.

To the Odds of the day.. We boarded Bhatinda-Jammu Express, which was scheduled to arrive Jammu at 06:20 but amazingly and unlikely according to Railways, arrived early. I pre-booked the car that was supposed to take us up. The driver kept calling me and I was dead asleep. Finally the attendants in the train shook me off to sleep as they came up to clean. Imagine how embarrassing can that be! Finally I met the friends I were to travel with, who arrived a night earlier and we got in the car. Our car broke down 37kms before we reached Patnitop. The driver asked us to sit at a nearby dhaba.. and tried fixing and calling some people up.

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Caged! A view down from the dhaba where our car broke down.

Localites came up and fixed the car, we started again, and in about half an hour the car broke again. Fed up with the whole process.. we decided to quit on the car and take a car-pull instead. We did! It took us to Patnitop. We took a quick hault. Had refreshments and booked us another car to Srinagar. After about 1.5hrs of a good drive.. I got stuck in the weirdest traffic jam ever. Oh yes.. all of you complaining about the traffic in metro cities.. you have no idea how long one can be stuck in traffic in the mountains. It was 3pm, the mountain sickness hit my friend and my little sister, the cars weren’t moving. There seemed no option for food either. I requested the driver so that he could help us with some food considering he may know locals. He asked us to wait.

2
the long queue of cars

Its not like the cars weren’t moving at all.. Just that it was moving but like an ant.

3
Caged! A view down from the dhaba where our car broke down.

After about 1 hour the driver got us to a place. It was a small and shabby hut. We had to bend our heads to enter ( I am just trying to explain how small that was 😛 ). There sat a fat man with two odd cots for people to sit at. The driver was talking to him in their local language, they call themselves dobris but they all sound like punjabis to us bengalis. I enquired aloud if they had anything from their non-veg section? The fat man replied that they don’t cook non-veg during the Navratras. I frowned and was about to say something to my sister when the man spoke.. “Okay letme cook for you guys today and you will forget all the non-vegetarian food you have ever had in your life”. That was quite a statement! For people who know me personally call me chicken-tarian.. Yup bongs are fish-fans but I am not.. I can’t go without chicken even for a single day. Munching on chips .. I watched him cook. He cooked Rajma for us (Red-Kidney Beans). He had them soaked overnight and boiled. So, that was fast and easy. And, we sat down for lunch at around 5PM. Undoubtedly it was one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. It was so yummy.. and I eat it all inspite of the fact it was very hot and hot. (And this was not the first time I was having Rajma Chawal in my life.. I have had it before, but I disliked Rajma then. #JustForTheInfo )

This dish changed my likes and dislikes.. Lol. I washed my hands, took a paper and sat in front of him, pleaded for the recipe. I noted down his tricks.. And ever since then.. on odd days whenever my mom insists on vegetarian food.. this is what I cook. This has become a family favourite now. Today, in the evening.. when I was cooking this.. I thought why not share it with the world. So, here I am sharing the recipe and tricks for the best Rajma-Chawal that I have ever had in my life.

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Procedure:

  • Soak rajma overnight for at least for 12 hours. If you have got the right beans, they will get double in size after soaking.
  • Pressure cook the soaked rajma in about 3 cups of water and the “masala potli” created in pressure cooker until rajma is soft and tender. Don’t throw the stock, it makes the gravy tastier.
  • Heat oil in a pan, fry cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf for a minute. Then add chopped onions. Saute it till the onions turns to golden brown.
  • Add ginger garlic. Fry till golden and cooked. Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder, cumin powder, and green chillies or red chilli powder which ever suits you best.
  • Grind the potli’s ingredients into a paste, add about one teaspoon of it when the tomatoes are soft and cooked.
  • Add boiled rajma to it with salt and the rajma stock. Add some water. Cover it and let it simmer it for 20-30 minutes. When the rajma gets nicely blended with the curry, add a tablespoon of butter.
  • Garnish it with few coriander leaves or mint leaves, either.

Best served with hot rice. 5

Please Note:

  •        1. the dobri man used red chilli powder, my bong taste likes green chillies more so I changed that bit. You may opt any one that you like.
  •        2. Coriander or mint, neither was used by the man there .. I used it for garnishing. You may wish to add or not, your choice.

     Now that I have successfully posted my first blog post.. I want you guys to please try this at home and let me know in the comment section.. how this turned out for you guys.
    P.S- the odd day didn’t just end there.. After lunch, we got in the car and the cars kept moving like an ant. We reached Srinagar at 3am at night, when the real distance should have taken us 6 to 7 hours maximum.. It took us almost 20 hours to reach Srinagar. But then the moment I stepped out of the car at Srinagar.. all my complaints disappeared for there is a reason why they say.. It is the paradise on Earth.
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    the view of Dal Lake from our Houseboat. #TheMorningSun

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    Thankfully what follows an odd night is a good morning. The first morning in Srinagar.

    Rightly said.. Paradise on Earth!