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1498 AD




While cuisines from every state in India and most countries of the World have already made a mark in Bangalore, it is now the turn of the cities in India to bring their best to the Bangalore. And one of the first mouth watering dishes that comes to mind is that of our Punjabi city Amritsar. Oye Amritsar on church Street truely lives upto its name and the Punjabi tradition. Our Special correspondent Githa U Badikillaya relished the Amritsar taste and reports to our visitors.

Oye Amritsar
on Church Street

The place exudes a rustic charm. With the graffiti on the walls, the stainless steel cutlery, the loud speakers from where mellifluous Hindi music was relayed (fortunately in muted tones), the large copper serving vessels, a hand pump and the humungous portions of lassi(yoghurt smoothie @ Rs 75/=), smells of pure desi ghee wafting –its undoubtedly Punjabi dhabha (highway motel) flavour all the way. Only the balle balle josh (joie de verve) was missing. Afternoons are only buffet fares (199/=) with a choice of refreshing drinks being the exception. Punjabis are known for their largesse and bonhomie, but the lunch buffet was just minimal and the dessert line up was a vanilla ice cream, water melon pieces and shahi tukda (Deep fried bread pieces in rabri-thickened milk and sugar). This was very good.

Opened in June 2007 this roof top restaurant uses fresh ingredients and the spices are balanced. The manager tells me that “We do not compromise on the quality and use pure ghee. Oil is taboo. Family and office crowds are our regulars. The Lassi is much sought after.” Full marks for the lassi done in typical Punjabi style. Rich but not creamy and a mini meal by itself. It’s VFM (value for money). In fact we had to drag ourselves on our feet after the lassi.

For Starters there was the samosa ka chaat, the typical Punjabi variety that had an experts touch. Very tangy, sweet and a little fiery I should say with the moong phalis (peanuts) giving it a twist. But it was a bit soft, maybe prepared early or an extra large dose of the chutneys. There was the papad with a green salad and a Boondi raita. Starters are either tawa or tandoori cooked. Aloo kebab with sweet chutney and green chutney was a treat with the range of spices well combined with ajwain. Makai Punjabi ka sheekh as lollypops was scrumptious and the corn well cooked its juice still discernible as I could make out the texture. The basic Amritsari masalas are onions, garlic and ginger. The pickle of Sukhi bhendi achar that had quite a few vegetables sizzled (literally and otherwise). Very spicy though. I think that the ancient art of Pickling would have been fine tuned at Amritsar, though the Rajastanis and Gujjus may beg to differ. Palak paneer and dal makhan wala (soft lentils cooked in butter) teamed up very well with rotis, naans and kulchas that were nicely done and soft. The paneer was fresh and made in house.

The tawa macchali as the non veg starter scored high on points. The fish was tenderly done. Crumb fried, probably, river fish seasoned with fresh lime juice. The mutton biryani was a disappointment. The mutton pieces were over cooked and a bit chewy and the cream dominating. The greeny Malai methi kukad ke was not bitter though the cream was the spoil sport. There was a curry-kukkad bhatinda curry, which I am told is a typical Punjabi fare. For the veggies there was the sabji pilaf that was insipid being just coloured rice with some fried onion pieces and hints of carrot and beans pieces. I could not make out the smell of the Basmati rice. OA could have included such popular Amritsar specialties such as the Tandoori chicken or its substitute Murg Makhani, the very popular stuffed Paranthas, Rajma and makki dal. Recession???

Punjabi food was influenced by the Mughals but at OA fortunately the composition of butter, ghee and masalas was right. In the winter months I am told, they have a fest that sees the likes of sarson ka saag (mustard leaves delicacy) and makki da roti making special appearances.

The a la carte presents a wide choice and the chef tells me that some of the favourites are Tandoori phool Gobi chowkwali which is baby cauliflowers marinated in special Amritsari Khara masalas charcoal grilled to a juicy perfection and topped with special tadkas (seasonings). The Bewazani panner de tikke which is spongy chunks of creamy paneer marinated in special pindi masalas and cooked in the earthy smell of the tandoor. Bharwon Aloo highwaywali which is a tandoori delight from dhabhas on the Jullandar-Amritsari highway is stuffed Aloo. There is the unusual Arbi leaves preparation cooked in authentic Punjabi masalas. There is the Jeera jingha masaledar-prawn sautéed in cumin with hing (asafoetida) at Rs 300/=. The menu card says that the first thing to order in the last city of Punjab is Pathankot di mashoor Tangi which is chicken legs stuffed with spiced lamb mince or kalmi and char grilled. The veg dishes are priced @Rs 165/= and the non veg @ 195/=.

The Chaat section has some interesting names such as the Dhahi balla khomchewalah which is lentil balls soaked in spicy and sweet curds with mint and date chutney. The tawa murg tikka @ 200/= cooked in chaat masalas seems appealing. The rotis and kulche are at Rs 30/=. No soups served but shorbas at 60/= that are thicker like the black whole chicken shorba flavoured with coriander. I think that the sugarcane mock tail which has sugar cane juice topping is worth a try.

This place is not for those weight conscious as the fare is heavy duty North Indian Khana with the formula full in place -- The gravies all rich and creamy with the ghee permeating through the layers.

Ambience 3

Food 2.75

Situated on the 2nd floor of Brigade Garden Towers, Church Street.


* Amritsar denotes “Pool of nectar”. The pool was constructed by the 4th Guru that surrounds the remarkable Golden Temple.
* Their cuisine is tailor made for a robust rustic life style. The not to miss delicacies are fried fish, mutton tikka, puris, jams or murabbas, Channa Batura, BBQ chicken, Pickles, Tandoor chicken, Chola Kulcha(typically Amritsar and not made anywhere in Punjab), lassi and rabri. In winters the Roi de kheer which is rice cooked in sugar cane juice is a big draw.
* The land of ghee, butter and milk is Punjab’s showcase of hearty eating. Incidentally it has the country’s highest incidence of heart disease.
* Must visit place at Amritsar is the Chole Kulchawale Dhaba on Muqbool Road.

Githa U Badikillaya



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