Anthony Bourdain in Punjab: 5 Spots Where Tony Ate

From the tropical coast of Kerala to the mountainous northern states that straddle the Himalayas, India is as geographically diverse as it is culturally diverse. There is perhaps no place this is thrown into sharper contrast than in Punjab, the Indian state bordering Pakistan – a border that was drawn artificially by a British lawyer and forever changed the face of the subcontinent and the lives of its peoples.

As was often the case, Tony Bourdain understood that these types of places – where the contrast is strongest – are what most of us at home need to see, and he purposefully spent time in Punjab, among the 28 states of India that he could have visited and shown us.

Anthony Bourdain in Punjab Hero

Anthony Bourdain visited Punjab to film season 2 (episode 1) of Parts Unknown; it was his only on-screen visit to this region, but not his only visit to India (he also visited Kerala, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Rajasthan). Traveling to the mighty Indian garrison state of Punjab, Anthony Bourdain finds an indomitable warrior spirit amongst the remnants of colonial rule as he samples the bevy of different foods found within the region.

If you’re planning a trip to India and want to eat at the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Punjab, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to where Tony ate in the Punjab.

This post was originally written in March 2023 and was updated most recently in March 2024.

Kesar da Dhaba (Amritsar)

Anthony Bourdain in Punjab Chole masala

Beginning in the city of Amritsar, Bourdain tests his belief that the “best food isn’t cooked in people’s homes, you find it on the streets” as he visits the Kesar da Dhaba backstreet eatery, known for its Punjabi thalis, a mezze style platter meal. Tony’s thali consists of chole masala (chickpea curry), paired with lentil daal, chapati bread, and a spicy saag (spinach) dish.

Golden Temple (Amritsar)

Tony then visits the famous Golden Temple in the center of the old walled city, where volunteers serve a daily langar, a vegetarian feast provided to thousands free of charge every day. There, he joins the meal, eating an assortment of vegetarian dishes.

All India Famous Amritsari Kulcha

Anthony Bourdain in Punjab - Kulcha

After witnessing the spectacle of saber-rattling that is the Attari–Wagah border closing ceremony between India and Pakistan, Tony continues his food journey to a restaurant called “All India Famous Amritsari Kulcha.”

There he enjoys kulcha, a type of small bread cooked inside a tandoori-style oven, covered with butter, and chole, chickpea curry cooked to perfection with various spices, onions, tomatoes, and herbs.

Beera Chicken House (Amritsar)

He then travels to the Beera Chicken House, a traditional tandoori restaurant to try tandoori baked chicken with lemon, and keema naan, a ball of spiced mutton, wrapped in dough, pounded flat then baked in the tandoori oven.

Unknown Station Vendor & Chapslee House

Anthony Bourdain in Punjab - Potage

Leaving the bustling city behind, Anthony next takes the Kalka-Shimla Railway into the foothills of the Himalayas, stopping at Barog Station for a quick snack of fried potatoes and salted vegetables from a trackside stall.

Arriving in the hill station of Shimla, originally a respite for colonial Britons from the fierce summer heat, Bourdain visits the incredibly preserved, stunning vestige of British rule in the region. Here, as a guest of current owner Kanwar Ratanjit Sing, grandson of the Late Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala, he is treated to an extravagant menu of Anglo-Indian dishes from days gone;

Dishes he is treated to include oef a la Florentine (baked eggs Florentine), potage mulligatawny (lentil soup made by Indian chefs to appease English palates), poisson vin blanc (chicken in white wine), mutton glace chops (lamb chops cooked in its own fat, served with potato and green beans), and pouding jalebi (a dessert of boiled milk and sugar).

Bourdain’s final stop as he takes into the spectacular views of Himachal Pradesh is with local motorcycle tour guide Hashim Qayoom. Together the pair look over the Himalayas as they enjoy a madra, a popular Himachali curry made with chickpeas and yogurt, slow-cooked with spices, and served with fresh chapati bread.

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in the Punjab? Let me know in the comments below.

Matt Young Headshot

Matt Young is a street food fanatic and world traveler, currently splitting his time between Europe and South East Asia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *