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Punjab on a plate: Recipes from the Golden City

Last updated on: November 09, 2014 12:31 IST

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

For the potato stuffing


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

For the tamarind chutney

For serving


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

For the broth

For the curry


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


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

To serve


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


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


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.




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


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

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Vikas Khanna