April 9th, 2014
04:00 PM ET
Share this on:

World-renowned chef, author and Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Punjab, India, in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, April 13, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

Chances are if you've ordered from an Indian restaurant in the United States, the intensely colored and spiced dishes have been Punjabi in origin.

"Most of the good stuff we refer to simply as Indian food comes from here," host Anthony Bourdain says in the season three premiere of "Parts Unknown," where he travels to the northern region of the world's second most populated country.

In Amritsar, India's holy city of the Sikh religion, carnivorously-inclined Bourdain finds himself among a bounty of vegetables cooked in rich, spicy gravies served with freshly baked kulcha, a type of flatbread, out of clay ovens.

“If this is what vegetarianism meant in most of the places that practice it in the West, I’d be at least half as much less of a dick about the subject,” Bourdain says during a meal at Kesar Da Dhaba. (Dhaba is a term for a roadside eatery.)

Cookbook author and chef Vikas Khanna was born in Amritsar, but is currently based in New York where he is the executive chef of Junoon restaurant. His upcoming book "Amritsar – My Soul, My Soil" pays tribute to the intricacies of his native home cooking. These recipes will surely heat up Sunday's premiere.

Maqbool Road Kulchas
Makes about 8 kulchas
Recipe reprinted with permission from "Amritsar – My Soul, My Soil" (summer 2014 release)

Maqbool Road and kulchas are synonymous. When you say "I’m going to Maqbool Road," pat comes the reply, “Can I come with you to eat the kulchas?” It is absolutely impossible to pass that road without stopping to relish a couple of kulchas. The difference between other kulchas and the Maqbool Road kulcha is that these have a thin, crispy crust on the outside while the inside is soft and creamy. The creaminess is lent by the potato stuffing that gives it a melt-in-the-mouth quality.

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon soda bicarbonate (baking soda)
1 teaspoon, or to taste salt
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil

For the filling:
2 large potatoes (boiled, peeled and quartered)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
2 large green chilies (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh coriander (finely chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried pomegranate seeds (powdered)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (lightly roasted and crushed coarsely)
3/4 teaspoon, or to taste salt
3 tablespoons butter (plus extra for greasing a baking tray)

1. For the dough, in a mixing bowl combine the flour with baking powder, soda bicarbonate and salt and mix thoroughly.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the yogurt, milk and sugar until sugar dissolves.

3. Gradually stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture and knead well to make soft, smooth and pliable dough. Knead the butter into the dough, cover with a damp muslin and keep aside for one hour.

4. Once the dough has rested and risen, knead it again and divide in half. Roll out each half into a thin square about 1/2-inch thick and brush with oil. Fold the square into thirds, brushing oil at every fold. Then fold the resultant rectangle into thirds again, brushing oil at every fold. Stack both portions of dough atop each other and roll out into a large square. Cut the square into 8 equal portions. Cover with a moist muslin cloth and keep aside.

5. In a mixing bowl, mash the potatoes with onion, chilies, coriander, powdered pomegranate seeds, crushed cumin seeds and salt. Ensure that potatoes are properly mashed and all ingredients are well combined.

6. Preheat oven to 350◦F. Grease a baking tray with a little butter and lightly dust with flour.

7. To shape the kulchas, spoon a tablespoonful of filling in the center of a portion of dough. Gather the dough around the filling and pinch dough together to seal the filling inside. Shape the stuffed dough into a ball and flatten it into a patty.

8. Place the patty on a lightly dusted surface and using a rolling pin, roll the patty out into a thick round kulcha about 6 inches in diameter. Repeat for remaining dough and filling.

9. Place the rolled out kulchas on the prepared baking tray and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with butter and return to the oven. Bake until kulchas are cooked and light golden in color. Remove from the oven. Repeat for remaining kulchas.

10. Serve hot.

Spiced Black Chickpeas (Kala Chana Masala)
Serves 4 to 6
Recipe reprinted with permission from "Return to the Rivers"

1 cup black chickpeas, picked over and rinsed (regular chickpeas can be used if black chickpeas aren't available)
7 1/2 cups water, divided
Pinch of baking soda
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or mustard oil
2 red onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of asafetida (optional)
2 whole green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl, cover with cold water and soak overnight or at least 6 hours.

2. Drain the chickpeas and place them in a Dutch oven with 6 cups salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the baking soda, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and cover to keep warm.

3. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and fry until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, asafetida (if using), cardamom and cumin and cook, stirring until very fragrant and darker in color, about 1 minute. Immediately add 2 tablespoons water to avoid burning the spices.

4. Stir in the chickpeas, cayenne and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated.

5. Season with salt to taste and serve hot.

6 secrets of Punjab

Previously on "Parts Unknown":
The dog-eat-dog turf of Detroit's classic coneys
Tasting Tokyo's treasures
South Africa
Taste the Rainbow Nation
Sicilian food to soothe the soul
10 things to know before visiting Sicily
A sense of place in Copenhagen cuisine
New Mexico
In New Mexico, choose a side: red or green
Bourdain cops to mistake on Frito pie canned chili claim
10 things to know before visiting New Mexico
– Granada, Spain
Traditional tapas in Granada
11 things to know before visiting Spain
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
In Jerusalem, even food origins are contentious
10 things to know before visiting Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Bourdain has traditional Palestinian meal
– Congo

SPAM and coq au vin on the Congo River
Peruvian food, from guinea pigs to pisco sours
Peruvian food is having a moment
Make perfect pisco sours and ceviche
South America's pisco enjoys North American revival
Breakfast in Libya
Where fast food tastes like freedom
iReport: In Morocco, eating is the spice of life
Street snacking in Morocco
O Canada! Our home and delicious land
Come for the strip bars, stay for the poutine
Colombian cuisine – from aguardiente to viche
Americans just don’t understand the potato. Colombians do.
Los Angeles Koreatown
The ever-changing flavor of L.A.'s Koreatown
Bridging generations and cultures, one blistering bowl of bibimbap at a time
Los Angeles food trucks are in it for the long haul
Fall in love with Myanmar's cuisine
In Myanmar, drink your tea and eat it too

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. kakgab

    Anthony, as an expat of 40 years (who last worked in India) I thank you not only for your food advice, but also for your excellent political and cultural background provided. Loved your Punjab show (and Korean, and Mexican, etc.)

    April 13, 2014 at 10:05 pm |
  2. Aditya Chauhan

    I LOVE Punjab except that in Golden Temple they have put pictures of terrorist leader Bhindrawale as though he was a guru! They insult the Sikh gurus by putting pictures of terrorist leader next to them. I wish politicians will leave religion out of politics & vice versa.

    April 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
    • ASikh

      My dear friend, for you he may be a terrorist but for us he is a hero who saved our troll in the most difficult times when India was hell bent on eliminating Sikhs from the face of the planet. Just like you worship the rulers who saved your troll from the afghan invaders, we treat our messiahs in same manner. Dont forget that had there not been Sikhs, Indian would have been a muslim state. Bitter, but its a truth that people like you are most unthankful and ungrateful creatures on this planet.

      April 13, 2014 at 9:54 pm |
      • Indian

        He was a terrorist and a coward. Freedom fighters don't pull out innocent hindu families from buses and murder them in cold blood or use a temple as a dug out for their operation. All the terrorists were sponsored by Pakistan which provided them with monetary support as well as training and weapons. So called freedom fighters were fighting a proxy Pakistani war with india.

        Do your research and you'll find out all the heinous crimes committed on the premises of the Golden a Temple by bhindrawala and his gang of terrorists.

        April 13, 2014 at 11:11 pm |
        • True Punjabi

          He fought against the system, and your mother Indira Gandhi what she did..... You guys called bapu to Gandhi.. He was more than terrorist, he did backbiting and asked hang to Bhagat Singh.
          Who fight for his/ her own right, you guys give him/her the name of terrorist.
          Punjabi Never called him Terrorist no matter, which religion they belong, Punjabi always stand with true.

          April 13, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
        • ASikh

          It is high time you open your eyes and see the damn truth. Just becuase Sikh fiercely resisted Indira's oppression during emergency does not make them terrorists. You do some research and you will find what your govt did to Sikhs from 1980 to 1995. You do some research on what your military is doing in Kashmir, a small valley where 700,000 Indian troops are deployed to crush the freedom of innocent Kashmiris. You have killed 7000 sikhs in Delhi 1984 state sponsored massacre and 3000 muslims in Gujrat in 2002. Just because Sikhs defend themselves and fight against oppression does not make them terrorists. As long as Bhindrawala lived, he choked the pseudo indian democracy and fought a brutal dictator Indira. He lived and died like a warrior and not like someone Nehru of yours who got his a$$ whiped by chinese in 1962 and also not like someone Ramdev of yours who fled in a woman's disguise just because a tear gas was used on him. And please stop believing the propaganda of Indian media. The world know the truth.

          April 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm |
      • Sardar Aulakh Singh

        As a devout Sikh, I find your comments deplorable. Bhindrawale was a Sikh version of Bin Laden and Hitler. He and his followers perpetrated horrendous crimes against not just Hindus but also moderate Sikhs. I find it disgusting that people worship and lead many in the next generation to go astray not just in India, but also in Canada, UK, and even US. People like you in Islam have misguided a whole generation; don't do the same to Sikhs. Bhindrawale was a terrorist, no ifs and buts about it.

        April 14, 2014 at 12:22 am |
        • jatt_singh

          you are not a Sikh you are a traitor... a bandit. go convert to hindu we don't need you in panth.

          April 14, 2014 at 12:47 pm |
        • ASikh

          Had someone from your family been a victim of Indian system and died, you would have realized the truth. And I am damn sure you are not a Sikh or Sardar you just a fake person.

          April 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
    • JGN

      All over the world it's always he said she said; you each need to be right and righteous but you entirely miss the point which is that EVERYONE has a different way of seeing each event in life, and the only way you can possibly find peace with each other is to accept the different points of view. Deplore violence, absolutely, but starting your own private wars over these events only proliferates them. Being alive is more important than being right.

      April 14, 2014 at 2:18 am |
    • Raj Grover

      As a Punjabi Hindu, I think showing the Golden Temple highlights a famous historical landmark, which needs to be showcased. It is you, Aditya, who is bringing politics into a well-written article discussing food and the difference between Sikhs and Muslims (like the bearded Talibans). Just enjoy the food and chill, bro!

      April 14, 2014 at 10:45 pm |
      • RC

        Well said. What the he!! just happened here? I was really enjoying learning something about a cuisine I know nothing about and the whole thing just went off the rails. Go find another avenue for your rantings and leave the food blogs to those who enjoy food.

        April 16, 2014 at 10:54 am |
  3. Vikas

    I am glad that Bourdain is realizing that vegetarian does not mean salad. The concept of vegetarian cooking is highly underdeveloped in the US, hence most people feel that it would be sort of ridiculous to be a vegetarian. (In the same way, in vegetarian regions of the world, people have little idea about the variety of meat cooking and dishes). Vegetarian dishes, as made in different parts of India, can offer a large amount of variety, and are very filling and tasty. Punjabi food is good, and so is South Indian, Gujarati, and Bengali food.

    There is actually no such thing as "Indian food" any more than there is "European food". You don't go to a European restaurant, you go to a French or Italian restaurant. Similarly in different parts of India food is different (along with languages, culture, and customs).

    April 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • sardarji

      You right except for one thing, gujurati food is NOT good. its a known fact, even gujuratis dont like their food. in fact, at most gujurati weddings they serve punjabi food.

      April 12, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
      • Lara

        I attended different Gujarati weddings, who are rich they want to add different flavors so they had stalls for north, south and also east. And at the authentic regular Gujarati wedding didn't find any Punjabi food, it was regular Gujarati tasty food, Puri, Undhiyu (it's yummy), Aam raas, patra, sandwich dhokla, khandvi, gulab jammoon, boondi ladoo, raas madhuri, fruit salad, sitafal shake, gulkand shake, regular rice, colorful rice, boondi raita, colorful raita, 2 type of daals, nice royal paan. And all was good.
        Every city and state has its own taste, my friends from south they don't like any Punjabi food they say its too spicy, have to drink water again and again. So you may not like it but Vikas liked it and even guru chef Sanjeev Kapoor liked it.

        April 13, 2014 at 9:12 pm |
      • hunterofdawn

        Don't know where you got that from, my friend.
        Gujaratis don't like Gujarati food? They don't server Gujarati food at their weddings?
        Both are assumptions, and as far as assumptions go, highly misleading.
        Gujarati food is different from Punjabi food and is pretty good, and certainly much healthier.
        Additionally, it is entirely vegetarian.

        April 13, 2014 at 10:27 pm |
    • Aditya Chauhan

      Well said!!

      April 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm |
    • JGN

      I don't know where you possibly get the idea that vegetarianism in the US is 'highly underdeveloped' since we in America have access to every variety known to man, all the vegetarian delights of every nation. Unlike many other countries, we not only have huge choices in the kinds of vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts we can eat but huge choices in how they are prepared!

      April 14, 2014 at 2:21 am |
  4. t.feldscher

    Reblogged this on One Year of Zen and commented:
    Delicious, and could be made vegan with a little tweaking. :)

    April 11, 2014 at 11:22 pm |
  5. umasub

    I NEVER eat vegetarian food in any cuisine except Indian. The only 'vegetarian' food in most cuisines is Steamed veggies with pepper/salt; or cheese dripping in sour tomato sauce. the only spices known to them are cumin and cinnamon (that too, mostly in desserts). We have a joke, just put these things in the blender and it will probably substitute for Gerbers.

    April 11, 2014 at 11:42 am |
    • ehomer

      That could not be more ridiculous. You simply have no idea of what you speak.

      April 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
      • JGN

        i agree. There is wonderful vegan and vegetarian food in China, Japan, South America, Africa; all over the world, and has nothing whatsoever to do with steamed veggies. One can only assume these are the ravings of a devout meat eater.

        April 14, 2014 at 2:24 am |
        • Thinking things through

          Or a devout vegetarian Indian cuisine eater. I do say vegetarian Indian cuisine is a high bar which I love, even if there are other good vegetarian cultural cuisines (that do not rely on steamed veggies or seitan).

          April 16, 2014 at 10:11 am |
  6. Cecce

    Asafetida is nicknamed "Devil's Dung." Don't use it; you will never be able to get the stench out of your house for a long as you live. Just substitute a little minced onion.

    April 11, 2014 at 12:25 am |
    • BW

      I've never had that problem. Then again, I took the advice of the recipes I used, and barely used a fingernail sliver amount of it. It gave the dish a lovely garlicky oniony flavor. Use too much, and yeah, it stinks like sulfur.

      April 11, 2014 at 11:36 am |
    • Aditya Chauhan

      Depends how you use it. Get all spices ready. Then put the pan on flame. High flame. Add oil. When hot, add Asafoetida (powder form). In seconds, add other spices, and veggies etc. If you don't have power form and instead have rock form, then heat up water, dissolve Asafoetida in it, then add. There's a method to Indian cooking and not many folks know it,not even many Indians as they have different foods, very different foods, in different regions.

      April 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
  7. Thinking things through

    I'll note if I ever get converted to vegetarianism, it will be through the REAL foods offered via the appropriate regions of India. (We in the West apparently largely haven't gotten past TofuPups and "Garden"Burgers, with their long lists of non-food ingredients.)

    April 10, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
    • Aditya Chauhan

      True! I may move to India just for food. If people can't even eat good food, what's the point or all the hard work :)

      April 13, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
  8. Retta'sVegas

    I think he has a drinking problem, in past shows he gives me the impression that he needs to start drinking in the morning, then continues remarking about needing another drink, before lunch.
    He complains about his schdule when it seems to me his staff has to deal with his arrogance, whinning, and slurred speech while he get's another drink.
    I'm glad he does not drive, I don't think staff would let him even if he wanted too, he would get a DUI, and disgrace them & CNN.

    April 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Yeah, I've seen him shined up in a few episodes.

      April 11, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
  9. AK

    He should also do a season on the non vegetarian cuisine from various parts of India. So diverse and just awesome.

    April 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
  10. AK

    As an Indian, I can tell you that this statement is wrong.
    "Most of the good stuff we refer to simply as Indian food comes from here," host Anthony Bourdain says in the season three premiere of "Parts Unknown," where he travels to the northern region of the world's second most populated country."

    Punjabi food is good. No doubt. However the cuisine of every state in India is as good. It is so diverse.

    April 10, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
    • Thinking things through

      I agree with you, good food is endemic throughout India, and includes various styles and entirely different cuisines. (I'm not even Indian, I just love good food...)

      April 10, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
    • EuphoriCrest

      I don't think Anthony meant that the best Indian food comes from Punjab; I think he meant that the Indian food westerners are most familiar with comes from Punjab.

      April 10, 2014 at 11:34 pm |
    • rahul

      you missed bourdain's point.

      April 11, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
  11. Mark L

    I prefer British Indian food. Brick Lane anyone?

    April 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

      Slave food? No thanks.

      April 10, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
  12. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    That's giant bowl. Can't wait for the new season.

    April 9, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
    • Stoner Dude

      Giant bowl dude?

      April 9, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

        I had jokes, too, but was actually impressed. :D

        April 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm |
| Part of