Tucked away in the narrow lanes of Chowk Passian, Amritsar, not more than 800 metres away from the majestic Golden Temple, you will find the Kesar da Dhaba which looks exactly as it did a 100 years ago. The dhaba, once a favourite of personalities like Lala Lajpat Rai, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, will take you back in time with its wooden benches and tables. Though, visitors may come for the name but stay for the dhaba’s mouth-watering, ghee-laden food.
However, Kesar da Dhaba was not always located in the bylanes of Amritsar. It was originally started in 1916 by Lala Kesar Mal and his wife, Parvati, in the Sheikhpura region of Pakistan where they sold Dal Makhani or ‘Mah ki Dal’ along with roti. After the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, the couple decided to shift the dhaba to Amritsar.
Today, the dhaba serves a wide variety of food like hot crisp paranthas, creamy lassi, delicious thalis and the traditional Punjabi dessert — firni. Despite the years, the dhaba remains famous for its Dal Makhani, a perfect blend of black lentils, red kidney beans, cream and fresh butter, cooked overnight in a copper vessel for almost 8 to 12 hours. The exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret that has been passed down the generations only by word-of-mouth.
Customers can walk through the open kitchen and watch as rotis are pulled out of the tandoor while curries simmer in copper vessels and firni is topped with a silver leaf. Kesar da Dhaba remains true to the Punjabi cultural heritage, and attracts hundreds of customers a day.
Watch this video to take a trip back in time to the 100-year-old historic Kesar da Dhaba!