The Indian city of Chandigarh is a thriving metropolis; the joint capital of both Haryana and the Punjab, which presents a snapshot of the wealthy and cosmopolitan side of Indian culture. Wide, pedestrianised boulevards,ornamental green spaces and a smattering of town squares – this city was an architectural experiment that began in the 1950s and has resulted in a modern day landscape that divides opinion. Some applaud it as a great feat of town planning, others decry it for stepping so far away in style from traditional Indian culture. But, however much the visual appeal of the city might churn up a debate, there is one matter in Chandigarh that unites opinion: that of the authentic, decadent and downright delicious cuisine.
Chandigarh is renowned amongst foodies of the Indian world as being a hot pot of scrumptious street food, mouth-watering mains and irresistible desserts. Many typical characteristics of Punjabi cuisine are prevalent in the city, though you will also find an abundance of South Indian favourites too. The diversity of India is perfectly encapsulated in this city where traditional Indian flavour sits alongside the city’s partiality for Chinese food – the two cultures blending together, contributing to an exciting culinary experience. Chandigarh is an Indian foodie’s paradise.
Punjabi food stands out amongst the many different culinary traditions of India due to its rich flavours and heavy use of spice. Descended from the royal courts of the opulent Mughals, you can expect Punjabi dishes to be high in cream, ghee, cheese and butter – yes, these recipes may sound high in calories, but they are equally high in texture and taste. Spicy food is also favoured, such as the signature chanabhatura, a chickpea curry served with crispy, puffed bread on the side.
Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians will find something to suit in Chandigarh. Vegetarian delicacies like shahi paneer, dal makhani, sarsonkasaag and sheer korma are staples of the city whilst bhunagosht, murghmakhani, biryanis and the famous Tandoori meats, baked in the heat of the Tandoor oven, are popular amongst carnivores.
In Chandigarh, you will find a range of tasty bread – the people of the city appear to have more of a preference for wheat-based produce they can scoop up all those thick, luscious curry sauces with, rather than sticking to just plain rice. A rolled up paratha makes for a tasty dunking device in a hot cup of masala chai, or if you are looking for something a little more substantial, Chandigarh loves its stuffed parathas – spiced potato, vegetables and/or shredded meats are popular options.
In terms of dessert, many sweets and drinks in Chandigarh are based on dairy produce. Thick, refreshing lassis are a favourite tipple, as are glasses of buttermilk. Fluffy malpuas and crunchy jalebi are enjoyed throughout the city, however, the signature sweet of Chandigarh has to be roh di kheer, a rice pudding cooked with raw sugarcane juice.
In many of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants, you can see dishes inspired by classic recipes from all over India – take a culinary tour of this fascinating country, all without buying a plane ticket.