What: “Tales of Amritsar”, Amritsari Street Food Festival
Where: Up North - The Raintree, Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai
When: 4th – 13th November, 2016 (only Dinner – 7 – 11.30 PM)
Butter Chicken Masala, Paneer Butter Masala and some Lassi in a tall silver glass are the things that pop in my head when someone utters Punjab, Amritsar or about their food. And these are the only dishes most South Indians know, including me until I got the insight about the local food via the handcrafted (A La Carte) menu of Chef Amandeep Singh (also a special thanks to him for spreading his food knowledge). So it was an almost perfect night with breezy air, lovely Bollywood numbers and tasty food.
From now on it’s all about food. Not just the classics but they have brought in some gastronomical twists to their food. As I landed up there a few days before the festival for tasting, the food portions and presentation differs from original. But you have to see the rustic food stall setup that would grab your attention in no-time. North Indian = Chaat! And the nitrogen twist always amps up the excitement. The freezing cold Golgappa Dhuawala bursts with sweet, sour and spicy flavours in my mouth and simultaneously the Frozen Fruit Chat Katori arrives to the tables to take me on a roller coaster ride. The crispy sev, crunchy pomegranate and the blend of chaat masala, fruits, papdi sitting on the crispy potato basket was a frozen delight.
I am a Samsa wala ;-) Yes, I have an immense love for good samosa. The tangy and spicy flavours from the Samosa Chat along with the crunchy samosa, sev and the delicious potato, white chickpea masala was a bliss.
After some chaat over a chat, the must tries were the Non-vegetarian delicacies from the Grill Station, “heaven on earth” is the phrase each non-vegetarian fanatic would utter seeing the dishes. Except for Atta Chicken I didn’t taste the other dishes; so this juicy and moist chicken is a delight. A whole chicken is wrapped inside wheat flour and slow cooked for 4 hours approx., though that’s how it should be made I wished for more spiciness after munching down some spicy chaat.
And here are the other non-vegetarian dishes: Lawrence Road Wali Taka-Tak (mutton liver and minced mutton semi-gravy), Murg Kaleji Rarra (chicken liver), Bheja Fry (brain fry) and Adraki Chapayee (mutton ribs). Also it was surprising to see Paya Rass (mutton paya), all these years I have been thinking that only the people of Madras know about this dish. The taste was pretty much the same and it was too good; the only difference shall be the consistency as the one we make at home is slightly thicker.
The batter fried Amritsari Machli was good but the crispness was almost lost by the time I tasted them after clicking the pictures (#FoodBloggerLife).
Hey vegetarians, we still have more food coming our way. And the crunchy, spicy and one of the most flavourful Dal Ki Pakoda is my favourite. With the chutneys, the pakoda was too good to let go off. Though I am bored of Paneer at times, it’s the one ingredient that completes your North Indian meal. So the Paneer Tikka Shaslik with mild zest of masala and the soft grilled paneer is without doubt tasted delicious. And the Soya ki Champ is presented in three different flavours (makhan, malai and haryali), where the malai and haryali tasted the best. I don’t prefer soya chunks in any form but this would be an ideal substitute for chicken if the vegetarians ever feel like tasting chicken.
The stuffed Kulcha with Dal Makhni and Amritsari Chole was THE dish of the day. The creamy and rich dal makhni is lip-smacking and delightful. Nevertheless was the Amritsari chole, the chickpeas just melts in your mouth and the masala is a perfecto for the kulcha; it was different from the chole masala you get for chole bhature. I loved both the vegetable and cheese kulcha; but the cheese one did felt a little high on salt but I was so overwhelmed by the taste that the tiny detailing didn’t hurt me.
Finally some desserts to sign off, the Patiala Shahi Lassi – don’t forget to grab a glass of this if you are here – thick, creamy and yum. Another divinely delicious dish was the Falooda Frozen Fruit Topping, loved this one to bits. And something hot for the cozy weather – Garam Amararti Tai Doodh served with fruit jaleebi and amarti (known as jangiri in Chennai). Dip the jaleebi and amarti into the milk and relish the sweet delights; each time you dip them, the milk absorbs the jaleebi flavour thus making the doodh more delicious.
Let me sum-up the Amritsari food journey on the roads of Chennai at Up North.
Breaking Down Points
Ambience: Alfresco. Music and ambience sets a brilliant dining floor.
Food Variety: Amritsari food slides more towards non-vegetarian dishes but huge applause for presenting dishes that are unique and aren’t available here.
Taste: Thumbs-up! Kulcha, makhni and lassi – wah re wah!
Price: A meal for two would cost Rs. 3000 INR (plus tax) approx., definitely expensive but par with other fine dining restaurants.
So my Verdict!
Tales of Amritsar! There is definitely lot more than just butter chicken or paneer, when it comes to Punjabi or Amritsari food. If your at Punjab you have to check out the dhabas to get the essence of delicious street food and if your in Chennai now just head to Up North.
For reservations and enquiries: 044 30853633
P.S. On-the-house bloggers meet for Amritsari food festival tasting at Up North, The Raintree Anna Salai. Remember, no two person's palate can be same.
Tales of Amritsar at Up North, The Raintree, Anna Salai Chennai Reviewed by Divya Srinivasan on 19:03 Rating: