MIRCHI~CHOLLAY KULCHAY
MIRCHI~CHOLLAY KULCHAY by J I G I S H A a.k.a Nitin Badhwar

Chandigarh India – Best Places to Eat and Dishes toTry

Chandigarh is famous for its eating-out culture and its people’s love of food. It is a city that’s full of superb restaurants, fine dining venues, fast food joints and dessert parlours, catering for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian visitors with tantalisingly spicy savouries, traditional North Indian delicacies, and exquisite sweet treats.

Local food in Chandigarh

Chandigarh’s local cuisine is heavily influenced by Punjabi cooking, which uses generous amounts of ghee, butter, oil, garlic, ginger, onion, tomatoes and fresh herbs in various curries, usually, made out of pulses or lentils. These are traditionally accompanied by long-grain basmati rice or wheat-based rotis, paranthas or naan. Meat in Chandigarh is almost always on the menu, we recommend you try the sizzling tandoori chicken, cooked in a simple tandoor clay oven – a technique which Punjabi cooks adopted from the Mughals.

Most of the local food in Chandigarh is very, very spicy due to the liberal use of “garam masala”. Consequently, a meal among the locals is often followed by a lassi, buttermilk or curd.

Dairy products, particularly lassies, are very popular in Chandigarh and come in various shapes, sizes, and flavours. If you wish to try some of the best we suggest you head to Sindhi Sweets in Sector 17-C, which does a vast array of mouthwatering Indian dairy-candies, kulfis and excellent mango, nankeen, and meethi lassies.

Street food in Chandigarh

Chandigarh is renowned for its street food, which is widely available across the city. We recommend you check out Sector 11, which has an inner city market lined with small local dhabas and food stalls. This area is great for hot paranthas, masala chaat, dahi bhallas, ragda patties, bhel puri, tikkas, and curries.

Most of the dishes are made-up on the spot and are deliciously flavoured with sweet and saucy chutneys, fresh onions, curd, cheese and fresh herbs.

When in the area head to Kale Ka Dhaba to try their egg bhurji (INR50) or butter cheese masala (INR120), which are yummy and filling.

Sector 17 has a great number of fine dining restaurants as well as some fantastic street food options. You will find most of these near the local bus stand including a small casual eatery called Bhatura King, which serves very tasty curries, thalis, and bhaturas at pocket-friendly rates. Their channa paneer bhatura is famous (INR110) and comes with a crispy roti. We also recommend you try their aloo naan (INR65) and the super-spicy karahi chicken (INR160), which is cooked to perfection. For a quick bite in the area head to Snacks Corner where you will find fabulous pav bajis (INR60), dahi bhallas (INR60) and raj kachori (INR70) as well as great chocolate flavoured frappe coffee (INR80).

In this Sector you will also come across Punjabi Grill, which is the place to go for spicy kebabs (INR300), lamb tikka (INR320) and tandoori broccoli (INR300); and Sagar Ratna, an all-veg South Indian chain, which is famous for its paper masala dosas (INR170) and dahi idlies (INR149).

Bhoj in Sector 22 is renowned for its simple but absolutely delicious North Indian veg thali (INR120), which changes throughout the day. The nearby Sai Sweets does excellent kulfis (INR90), hot gulab jamun (INR25), pakoras (INR70) and samosas (INR70).

Local restaurants

Swagath Restaurant & Bar in Sector 26 does stellar Indian food with a focus on Mughlai, Punjabi, Mangalorean and Chettinad dishes. The restaurant is swish and modern, the service is superb and the menu is crammed with delicious authentic Indian dishes. Ideal for a family meal or a romantic evening out. Swagath does excellent golden fried prawns in ginger garlic sauce (INR945), a great kesari malai kofta (INR435) cooked according to a traditional Mughlai recipe and an extensive selection of seafood, mutton and chicken dishes including the heavenly methi murgh (INR505), which is the house specialty. The restaurant also serves a good selection of alcoholic beverages and zingy cocktails.

Another excellent place for a cosy sit-down meal is Grapewine, located in Hotel Aroma (Sector 22). Their set veg and non-veg lunch (INR472/532) and dinner (INR591/710) buffet options are delicious, plentiful and sating. If, however, you opt for the à la carte menu we recommend you try the seasonal fish tikka with mint sauce (INR475), the hara bara kebab, which comes with potato patties (INR250) or the mutton malmali cooked in a tandoor (INR399). This place has a nice, relaxed atmosphere, quick service and a varied selection of alcoholic beverages.

For a more casual meal head to Faraabi Cafe in Sector 10, which does a great traditional paneer kofta (INR325), a tantalising chicken biriyani (INR395) and scrumptiously rich chocolate ice cream (INR215).

Western and International food

Chandigarh also has plenty of restaurants offering Italian, Chinese, American and European food.

Hunka Hunka Town in Sector 26 is set up like an American diner and does a good selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian mains, starters and desserts. Try their fish and chips with tartare sauce (INR525), the exotic veg pizza (INR395) or the southern fried chicken burger (INR375) before sampling a slice of the tangy New York cheesecake (INR225), which comes with a delicious blueberry compote. Hunka Hunka Town is a great casual place with a laid-back atmosphere, friendly staff, and some excellent old-school rock n roll, which adds to the overall ambiance.

Mainland China, also in Sector 26, specialises in authentic Chinese food. Try their truffle flavoured zucchini spring rolls (INR365), the delicious Sichuan vegetable hot pot (INR435) or the chili basil fish (INR560), which is delicately spiced and flavoured. This place caters for vegetarian and non-vegetarian diners, which plenty of options for both.

Magritte, which is an Italian affair located in Sector 10, is small, cosy and perfect for a romantic meal. The menu is compact and offers a perfect balance of pasta and risotto dishes as well as tasty cheeseboat pizzas. Try their Tuscan pasta bowl with cherry tomatoes (INR345) or the chicken Alfredo pizza topped with melting mozzarella (INR440). The house carrot cake, which comes with vanilla ice cream, is divine (INR180).

For some truly fine dining head to Black Lotus at hotel Taj Chandigarh in Sector 17, which is slick, sophisticated and does fabulous in-house grills. The grilled sesame lamb option is superb (INR750) as is the lemongrass crème brulée (INR275). This place has exceptional food, service and champagne cocktails – perfect for a truly memorable night out.

Cafes and Coffee Houses

Chandigarh also has some great cafes offering coffees from around the world.

Indian Coffee House in Sector 17 is a fantastic little place, which serves tasty hot-cream coffee (INR46) and a wide selection of snacks, sandwiches hotdogs and burgers. The Barista chain, which can be found across the city, does an impressive selection of coffees including a delicious brownie frappe (INR345), which goes well with their freshly baked blueberry muffins (INR250).

Bars and other drinking venues

The city of Chandigarh won’t disappoint on the drinking front either. It is full of great pubs, bars and uber-cool hotel lounges with some truly impressive wine lists.

Ministry of Bar Exchange in Sector 26 has a great, buzzing atmosphere, quick and friendly service, live music and a trendy young crowd. The food menu includes a sizeable selection of Indian and European dishes, ranging from the tantalizing MOBE chicken taco (INR329) to the awesome vegetable doughnut burger (INR349) which goes well with their house beer (INR150).

FLYP@MTV is another great drinking venue in Sector 26, which has an artsy interior, courteous staff, live music and a good selection of alcoholic beverages. It’s a great place to try some exotic cocktails – we suggest the Terimaki from Japan (INR399) – meet new people or chill out with old friends.

The Back Room, located in Toy Hotel in Sector 34, is a suave and stylish place, perfect for a romantic drink or two. The bar is dim-lit and decadently luxurious and has super cosy sofas, ideal for lounging. Their expresso martinis (INR350) are rich and intoxicating and their Lebanese falafels (INR360) are the best in town.