News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Getahead » Food » Punjab on a plate: Recipes from the Golden City

Punjab on a plate: Recipes from the Golden City

By Vikas Khanna
Last updated on: November 09, 2014 12:31 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

In the second part of a series, we bring you recipes from chef Vikas Khanna's latest book Amritsar: The Flavours of the Golden City. Read part I here!

Vikas KhannaChef Vikas Khanna's latest book is a tribute to the rich and exquisite local cuisine of Amritsar, Punjab.

In the book Amritsar: The Flavours of the Golden City, Khanna revisits his childhood memories of living and cooking with his 'biji' (grandmother) in Amritsar.

In the first part, excerpted from the book, we told you about the best places to eat in Amritsar.

READ: What to eat when you're in Amritsar

In the second part, here, we bring you an excerpt from the book featuring some of the best recipes from the city.

From the traditional Sarson ka Saag to the hand-churned mango ice cream, which Chef Khanna learned to make from his grandmother, the book is intercepted with heart warming anecdotes from his life and career. 

In Khanna's own words, he describes the purpose of the book thus: 

"To the people of Amritsar… for holding onto my childhood, my memories, and my life and enriching it further.

"....My inspiration, my home, My Amritsar."


Seven-layered puff pastry stuffed with spiced potato.


The word Satpura is actually made up of two Hindi words: 'sat' meaning seven and 'pura' meaning layer.

So Satpura is basically a seven-layered (or more if you like) puff pastry with a warm, velvety spiced potato filling in the centre.

You could think of it as a variation of the famous samosa, just a little lighter and with a resoundingly delicious crunch.

Traditionally satpuras are fried, but you can also bake them at 250F for 15 to 20 minutes to create a healthier version.

As for the filling, you are free to play around with different ingredients and create a variety of mouth-watering stuffings.


For the puff pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (maida)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp carom seeds
  • 4 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 6 tbsp water

For the potato stuffing

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp ginger, finely grated
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green peas, fresh
  • 3 potatoes, medium-sized, boiled, diced
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/4 tsp mango powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp green coriander, fresh, finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying


  • For the puff pastry, in a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients mentioned (except water) and mix to a crumbly texture.
  • Knead in the water to form a smooth, stiff dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes till it is pliable.
  • Cover with a moist muslin cloth and keep aside for 30 minutes.
  • For the potato stuffing, heat the oil in a frying pan.
  • Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli; saute for a few seconds.
  • Mix in the green peas and saute for about two minutes till the peas soften slightly.
  • Mix in the potatoes along with the spices and salt thoroughly. Mash the potatoes slightly.
  • Mix in the green coriander. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool.
  • To shape the satpuras, knead the dough again and divide it into 6 to 8 equal portions.
  • Sub-divide each portion into 3 smaller portions.
  • Roll out each small portion into a paper-thin strip about 8" long and 3" wide.
  • Lightly brush each strip with oil and place the three strips one above the other.
  • Brush the oil over the top strip and dust lightly with flour.
  • Fold the entire stack into half lengthwise.
  • Brush the top lightly with oil again and dust lightly with flour. Fold into half lengthwise again.
  • Gently roll the folded pastry into a rectangle about 4" wide and 6" long.
  • Spoon a tablespoonful of the stuffing in the centre of the rectangle and brush very little water on the edges.
  • Fold the sides of the pastry over the filling and gently press the edges together to seal the stuffing inside.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough and stuffing.
  • Heat the oil in a wok (kadhai); deep-fry the satpuras over a medium flame till golden and crisp. Remove and drain the excess oil on absorbent paper.
  • Serve the satpuras hot with ketchup or any chutney of your choice.

NOTE: The pastry dough can very easily be substituted with phyllo pastry dough.

Company Baug Laddoo

Lentil dumplings served with pickled carrots, radish and tamarind chutney

These laddoos aren't your ordinary sweet laddoos.

In fact, they are not sweet at all.

It's the round shape that gives this dish its name.


Serves 4 to 6

For the dumplings

  • 2 cups chick peas soaked overnight, drained
  • 1/2 cup split yellow lentils, soaked overnight, drained
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying

For the tamarind chutney

  • 1/2 cup tamarind pulp, diluted in 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly roasted
  • 1/4 tsp carom seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp sugar

For serving

  • 12 to 15 slices pickled carrots
  • 1 cup White radish , peeled, thickly grated
  • 1 tbsp black salt, powdered


  • For the dumplings, in a grinder, combine the chick peas and lentils with cumin
  • seeds, coriander seeds, salt, turmeric powder and very little water, and grind to a thick coarse paste.
  • Remove into a large bowl or vessel, cover and keep in a warm place for six hours to ferment.
  • For the tamarind chutney, in a frying pan, combine the diluted tamarind pulp with salt, cumin seeds, carom seeds, red chilli powder and sugar and cook over medium heat till the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Reduce the flame and simmer chutney for 3-4 minutes till it thickens slightly. Remove from flame and cool.
  • When the prepared batter ferments, stir it thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  • Heat the oil in a wok (kadhai) over medium flame.
  • Using two spoons, shape the thick batter into round dumplings and carefully drop 2-3 at a time in the hot oil.
  • Deep-fry the dumplings, gently turning them with a perforated spoon, till they are cooked and are evenly golden and crisp.
  • Remove and drain the excess oil on absorbent paper.
  • To serve, portion the dumplings in serving plates and arrange the pickled carrots on the side.
  • Drizzle over with prepared chutney and top with grated radish.
  • Sprinkle over with a pinch of black salt and serve immediately.

Saroj Aunty’s Keema Kofta

Poached lamb balls in yoghurt-based sauce

Keema Kofta

There was a difference of only one digit between our home address and that of Saroj Aunty. 

The postman would often mistakenly deliver her letters to our home.

I made it a point to go only at lunchtime to return Saroj Aunty’s mail.

It was not mischief, but my love for her cooking and food that led me to her doorstep time and time again.

One of the most important things she taught me was how to make these delicious keema koftas.


Serves 4 to 6

For the koftas

  • 400 gm lamb minced
  • 1 onion, medium-sized, sliced
  • 1 potato, medium-sized, boiled, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chillies, medium-sized, roughly chopped
  • 4-6 black peppercorns 
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the broth

  • 4 cups lamb stock
  • 2 bay leaves, medium-sized
  • 2 cloves
  • 1" stick cinnamon

For the curry

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, large, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt (dahi)
  • 2 tomatoes, large, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tbsp poppy seed paste
  • 3/4 tsp salt


  • For the koftas, in a grinder, combine the lamb minced with the other ingredients
  • mentioned and grind to a thick, slightly coarse paste.
  • For the broth, in a saucepan, combine the lamb stock with the ingredients mentioned and bring to a boil.
  • When the broth starts boiling, reduce the flame and allow to simmer.
  • Divide the mince mixture equally into large, lemon-sized portions and shape into round balls or koftas.
  • Gently slide in the koftas to the simmering broth and poach till cooked. Remove and keep aside. Reserve the broth.
  • For the curry, heat the oil in a large pan over medium flame; add the cumin seeds.
  • When the seeds start crackling, add the onions and saute till golden.
  • Remove from flame and keep aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Blend the fried onions with yoghurt and tomatoes in a blender till smooth.
  • Remove into the same pan in which the onions were fried.
  • Place the pan over medium flame.
  • Mix in the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala powder; saute.

Masala Pomfret

Stuffed Pomfret

One of the latest additions to Amritsari cuisine is pomfret.

During my last visit, I was very happy to see pomfret being sold in the markets.

I promptly decided to make some for my family.

The recipe I used was my Biji’s tried-and-tested recipe for masala fish.

The lime, turmeric and fennel gives it a very subtle flavour, which enhances the original taste of the fish rather than overpowering it.


Serves 4

  • 2 nos pomfret, large, cleaned, trimmed, scored on each side
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp carom seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil


  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt, carom seeds, fennel powder and lemon juice, mix thoroughly.
  • Using a small spoon or brush, ‘stuff’ the spice mixture into the scores on each side of the fish. Also apply some of it all over the fish. Keep aside for 5 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan / griddle over medium flame.
  • Place the fish on it and sear on both sides.
  • Reduce the flame to low and cook turning over at regular intervals till the fish is just done.
  • Remove from flame, cut into pieces and serve hot with phulkas.

Sarson ka Saag

Mustard greens

Sarson ka saag

How can a cookbook on Punjabi cuisine be complete without Sarson Ka Saag?

Forget about calories and cholesterol for a bit.

Eat it with a generous dollop of unsalted butter and jaggery, and you will want to have it every single day of your life.


Serves 4

  • 2 cups mustard greens (sarson), fresh, cleaned, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup spinach fresh, cleaned, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, large, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, medium-sized, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp or to taste salt
  • 3 tbsp gram flour
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, large, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, finely grated
  • 2 tomatoes, medium-sized, finely chopped

To serve

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tsp brown sugar, powdered (optional)


  • In a heavy saucepan, combine the mustard greens, spinach, garlic, green chillies and salt with 4 cups water and place on high flame.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the flame and simmer till the stems of mustard greens have cooked through. (Add more water, if necessary, and stir occasionally.)
  • Sprinkle the gram flour over the mixture and mix it in using a whisk.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes till the raw fragrance of the gram flour disappears, then remove the mixture from the flame and whisk till the mixture is almost smooth. Keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium flame; add the cumin seeds.
  • When the cumin seeds start to crackle, add the onion and ginger, and saute till the onion turns golden.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, till the tomatoes are mashy and mixture darkens very slightly. Add the green paste and mix thoroughly.
  • Adjust salt, if required, cook for 5 minutes then remove from flame.
  • To serve, spoon 1 tbsp of butter and sprinkle over with some brown sugar (optional).
  • Serve hot with Makki Di Roti.

Chandan Sherbet

Soothing, sandalwood sherbet

Chandan Sherbet


A sip of this drink brings to my mind memories of Amritsar's temples, where the sweet scent of sandalwood incense wafts through the air.

Though I've used sandalwood to infuse a 'temple-feel' into some of my other recipes, Chandan Sherbet is by far my favourite.


Serves: 4

For the sandalwood paste

  • 1" sandalwood stick
  • 1 tsp water
  • For the sherbet
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 5 pods green cardamom, powdered
  • A small flat stone with a rough surface, washed clean


  • For the sandalwood paste, spoon the water on the centre of the stone and rub the sandalwood stick in a circular motion on the surface in the water.
  • Keep rubbing the stick on the stone in a circular motion till 1/2 tsp thick paste is made.
  • Scrape off with a spoon and keep aside.
  • For the sherbet, combine the sandalwood paste with water, lemon juice, sugar and cardamom powder. Stir till the sugar dissolves.
  • Refrigerate to chill.
  • Pour over ice and serve.

Anar Dana Jeera Goli

Pomegranate-cumin digestive pellets

Anaar Dana Jeera Goli

Whenever I leave Amritsar for America, I take a big packet of dried anar dana with me.

I then make these jeera golis and pop one into my mouth every now and then.

I sometimes gift them to my friends.

They are tasty and good for health and digestion.


Serves: 4

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate powder
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds, lightly roasted, powdered
  • 1 cup sugar, powdered
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lemon (nimbu) juice


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the pomegranate powder, powdered cumin, 3/4 cup powdered sugar and salt; mix thoroughly.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and using your hands, knead the mixture lightly till it comes together like stiff dough. The lemon juice may seem inadequate in the beginning but once the sugar dissolves a bit, the mixture will come together.
  • Using your fingertips, pinch off a small portion of the dough and roll into a ball and place in the remaining powdered sugar. Repeat with the remaining ‘dough’.
  • Toss the small balls or golis in the powdered sugar to dust them.
  • Spread the prepared golis out onto a large plate and keep aside to dry for 2 days.
  • Fill into a clean, dry glass jar and store in a cool dry place.

NOTE: The quantity of powdered sugar may be increased slightly if the mixture tastes too sour. But take care not to add too much sugar as it overpowers the flavour of the pomegranate seeds.

Sushma Didi's Aloo Parantha

Shallow-fried bread stuffed with potato

Aloo Paratha

Sushma Mehra, whom we fondly called 'Sushma Didi' had, what was in my opinion, the ideal farm house where she grew phalsa (a tropical fruit) and had a swimming pool.

I would eagerly wait for her car to honk outside our house exactly at 11 am, and Nishant, Radhika and I would be driven to her farm.

Once we reached the farm, all of us would jump into the pool and splash about.

Then it would be time for lunch where we were always served the most amazing aloo paranthas made by Gianji, Sushma Didi's very talented cook.

After lunch, she would drive us back home.

With a blissfully full stomach, I would sit back in her car with my eyes shut, listening to Mozart playing in the background.



  • 3 potatoes, medium-sized, boiled, peeled, quartered
  • 1 onion, medium-sized, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, medium-sized, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3/4 tsp mango powder
  • 1 tbsp green coriander, fresh, finely chopped
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • Vegetable oil for shallow-frying


  • In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except flour, milk and oil.
  • Using a masher, mash the mixture till the potatoes are smooth and all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Knead the potato mixture in the flour and mix well to make dough.
  • Gradually knead in just enough milk to bring the dough together and make it soft, smooth and pliable. Take care to ensure that the dough is not sticky.
  • Divide the dough equally into lemon-sized portions.
  • To shape the paranthas, roll a portion of the dough into a ball and flatten it into a patty.
  • Place on a lightly dusted surface and using a rolling pin, roll out evenly into a disc of about 5" diameter. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough.
  • Brush a griddle with oil and heat over high flame.
  • When it starts to smoke, reduce the flame to medium and place a rolled out parantha on it.
  • When small bubbles appear on the lower side of the parantha turn it over using a flat spoon and cook for about 30 seconds.
  • Brush the surface of the parantha with oil and also drizzle about 1/4 tsp oil around the edges.
  • Cook the parantha on both sides pressing gently with the flat spoon till the parantha is light golden. Remove from flame. Repeat till all are fried.
  • Serve hot with plain yoghurt and pickle.

Hand-churned Ice-cream

Homemade mango ice-cream

Hand-churned Ice creamIt was the happiest day for us when, with Biji by our side, we got to make hand-churned mango ice cream in our backyard.

We took turns to add cracked ice into our wooden machine and rotate its handle.

It was hard work for our tiny hands, but we loved doing it.

We were all very excited the day my father bought an electric machine to make ice cream -- all except Biji.

On asking why she was so upset about the machine when it would actually make her job easier and save time and energy, she immediately replied, 'It is not about saving time, it is about spending time together, which will never happen now.'

I miss those old wooden machines; it makes me happy to see one at times, at some old run-down corner store.

It makes one wonder -- electric machines do make life easier, but do they always make it better?


Serves 4

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mango pulp, fresh
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • A pinch salt


  • Heat the milk in a heavy saucepan over a medium flame; cook, stirring constantly, till the milk thickens and volume reduces to 1 and 1/2 cup.
  • Remove from flame and cool to room temperature.
  • Mix in the sugar and stir till it dissolves completely. Also mix in the mango pulp.
  • Pour into a metal bowl and freeze till the mixture becomes slushy.
  • Whip the cream till light and fluffy and mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Remove the slush from the freezer and beat it using an electric whisk.
  • Fold in the cream and salt and freeze till half set again.
  • Remove and blend the mixture once more using the electric whisk. Refreeze the mixture till set.
  • Scoop out portions and serve immediately.

Photos: Amritsar: The Flavours of the Golden City by Chef Vikas Khanna

Excerpted with permission of Roli Books from the book Amritsar: Flavours of the Golden City by Chef Vikas Khanna priced at Rs 995

Love food? More recipes and food features here!

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Vikas Khanna