Watching western movies and realizing how strong the cafe and bar culture overseas is, I always try to find places in India which serve tea and provide avenue for locals to ‘hangout’ and enjoy a quick bite. There are not many which I have found yet, however Giani Tea Shop of Amritsar seems to be one such place.The place is on a busy Amritsari road, gets as Old School, Desi and Rustic as it can get. Probably not the cleanest or most well managed place where you would let your foot in, but then some of us are suckers for old world charm and Giani offers that by the truck loads.
My first experience with them was when Dr. Aman Kahlon and Jaideep Riar took us there for tea, and as they say fortune favors the brave, at that time of the day the old man of the shop himself was at the helm of the things. And when I say at the helm, I do not mean managing the joint, but the man himself was sitting on the bhatti and making chai.
|Special Chai, you can see bits of Pista on top.|
A quick word from Aman Paaji to the owner, 5 minutes of waiting, and what we had on our table was probably the best Chai I have ever tasted in my life (and my 4 foodie companions from Delhi also claimed the same). This particular chai was made in Milk only, however still was dark enough to tell us how well it was brewed. Giani ji himself goes to the old part of the town and selects Chai Patti (tea leaves) of few types from tea merchants there and makes his own unique blend. Most of the times when you have tea outside you appreciate a combination of masala, ginger, elaichi, long or dalchini in the chai, however in this cuppa we could appreciate the actual flavors of the tea leaf blend.
Besides that it had some froth over it and was topped with a sprinkling of crushed pista, which was something very unique and new for me and my companions. Not sure if the pista comes from some traditional style of serving tea or Punjabi fixation of making everything rich and grand, but it went surprisingly well with that chai.
Coming to the food on offer, we tried their Omelet with bread, half fried eggs (sunny side up) and Gulab Jamun. Omelet was quite delicious, you cannot go wrong with half fried eggs and Gulab Jamuns were one of the better ones if not the best that we have had. That said, the chutney concoction that they offer with those dishes is what makes them stand out.
|Their Chutney ‘mix’.|
We went to the shop again next day and unfortunately it was one of the ‘boys’ making the tea and the owner’s son was sitting at the cash counter barking orders to them boys. We ordered the same tea, which though tasted great by all standards, still lacked the punch of day before. I hope our judgment was not hazed by our knowledge of the fact that his tea was made by a different person. Will have to make more visits in future to establish that fact.
|Another illustration of how to eat your Half fry.|
Then comes the second hand knowledge about the shop from Aman Paaji, who told us that people who come to nearby Ram Bagh, which is the most popular spot in Amritsar for morning walks, make a stop at Giani’s Tea Shop for their Chai, snacks and Gup-Shup sessions with friends. The claim collaborated by Madhup Bhutani who was one of our companions from Delhi, who happened to visit the shop a bit earlier in the morning. He tells us that the busy road in the daytime is actually deserted from traffic in the morning, and is taken over by people hanging out and enjoying their morning cup of tea.
To end it, I would say Giani Tea Shop is definitely and probably the only tea shop that I look forward to visiting again and can recommend it to anyone who appreciates their Chai, the old school way.Location : Queens Road, just before Bhandari Bridge