Kesar da Dhaba, Amritsar

[Rated: 3.5/5]

All that hype about “Kesar da Dhaba”, its tall claims of the real Punjabi taste and tarka of its food, its impressive list of celebrity patrons and its nomination as one of the top dhabas of Amritsar fuelled my curiosity and I had to have a first hand experience there.

I was not a first timer, but a lot of water has flown under the bridges of the mighty Beas since 2004, when I was last there. The legendary Kesar da Dhaba has led famished souls to satiety since 1916. Those times were different, simpler with border confined Indian cuisines and the prosperity of agrarian Punjab showed in its food rich in butter and ghee complimented by dripping Paranthas and Naans. If this still is the scale to measure opulence, Amritsar clearly wins with Kesar’s ghee laden fare.

Located in the narrow lanes of Amritsar, where parking can become a problem, the dhaba specializes in serving twenty three dishes every day. Mr. Mehra of Kesar claims to prepare each dish with the uniqueness of its taste and texture preserved.

However, I must say that the ambience could not get a lift with the centrally air conditioned hall as one couldn’t miss the ugly blemishes on the walls of the Dhaba but then I was not in a five star hotel. The regular thali with mah di daal, cholle, raita and laccha paranthas (Rs 130/-) failed to impress my taste buds. Perhaps the hype had raised the expectations very high.

The slow cooked mah di daal which is a must on every Punjabi thali had the characteristic taste of the pyaz and adrak ka tarka in desi ghee (minus tomatoes). It was good, but has a tough competition in Amritsar. The taste of Punjabi cholle was over powered by the garam masala. Having tasted preparations in the interiors of Amritsar which dish out the most mouth watering and heavenly Punjabi cholle, I would not recommend Kesar’s cholles.

Going by my instincts now, I ordered baingan ka bhartha (Rs. 40) cooked and bhunoed with lots of tomatoes and onions in desi ghee was good and made up for the disappointing channas. Shahi paneer (Rs.85) in its shahi andaaz was creamy and mildly spiced. The Punjabi style alu gobhi was made in desi ghee in traditional baraat style. This dish and dahi raita complimented each other well on my thali. I had my two thumbs up for the Palak paneer (Rs. 75). The soft flavoured paneer added to the palak while cooking it in ghee enhanced the real rustic dhaba taste in every bite. But it was the laccha Parantha (Rs. 20) that was the best. The crispy layered parantha done to perfection is the real highlight at Kesar.

The final highlight on my thali was the dessert, phirni served chilled in earthen bowls. This was a surprising departure from the routine ice creams and kulfis served in dhabas and a refreshing and sweet way to end my mission “Kesar da dhaba.”

Ratings out of 5

Food: 3.5 | Ambiance: 3.5 | Service: 4.0 |Overall: 3.50

Meal for Two: 200 | Alcohol: No | Credit Card: No|

Address: Kesar da Dhaba, Chowk Passian, Amritsar | Phone+91-98155-76117 , +91-80545-02227


  1. Very well written Aman..I think we should send a Delhi-ite to do the review since your benchmarks are really hard to beat. Will certainly plan something for Amritsar soon.

  2. Went to Kesar’s a few months back, wasnt very impressed with the food.

    I guess the hype has really done this place in & besides, they have suffered a distinct loss in quality over the years. In spite of your lovely article, I’ll just pass. thx.

  3. i love the food at Kesar Dhabha and my fav things are the Palak Paneer and Dal along with the Parantha’s dripping desi ghee and i Believe to get the best food one has to bribe the waiter just as you place the order and only then will the parantha’s and the dal, choley, palak paneer would have that extra dash of tadka that makes this place so popular

    the firni’s are good but one can get better firni’s in amritsar

    Himanshu Sharma

  4. Hi Aman !! you are a true foodie……. will love to have a food walk with you once I am there at Amritsar, it will be a great experience…. lot to learn from you…. keep it up brother :))

  5. Thanks for writing this piece on Kesar, I was waiting eagerly. Nice, though I would also like to visit the ones in the hinterland that you cursorilly mentioned.

  6. Bro, your views and reviews come spreading the steam and aroma in the air like an all American sizzler. It gets imperative for us readers to bite of – at the expense of mopping the floor later with either tears or drool!

    Surprisingly there is a fair mix for Kesar in here, frankly i am not surprised. But my not being surprised is unfortunate, i would have loved to be proven wrong with my belief that the age old Tastes & Recipes are passed on as they should have been (something like how the case is with our Heritage monuments). Or in some cases the new generation tries to experiments which at times are not needed, that said – i would love to dip into the palak paneer , aloo gobi (which sounds just like how i like it) , the dal (it shall be better than Delhi/Gurgaon still is what i am assuming).

    On a light note, bad part of being in Punjab is that you tend to develop such high standards for tastes & spices that any less is just not acceptable. In arguably the competition is huge in the flavor rich state & well – thankfully. I am not too sure that i shall have my heads up before i gobble this whole of thali (may be two more laccha paranthas too! insane me.)

    The only aspect i would not want to be changed with times is the essence of course – which here is the taste but also the ambiance – which is reminiscent of the soul of the place nurtured through the years, the dirty walls can be cleaned for sure but cladding them with tiles & modern decors et all – is not the idea i personally as a food lover would want any restaurant known for its age & traditions to change. We have able heeled joints to do that jazz, for here are some joints that i’d love to eat with Kishore and Rafi still being played on a small Philips radio placed alongside the creaking wooden shelf behind the saheb on the galla. 😀

    There is so much to Kesar (that the new generation doesnt probably realize) that It still can enable me ignore one off tangent on the palate and still look around for other dishes to immerse into.

    More ..when i visit Amritsar

    1. Sid ,
      I would agree with you on the ambience of the place , Mr.Mehra told me that he loved to sit in the same environment as his Great Grandfather.The benches and the tables gave it a rustic Dhaba look. Yes u might be right about my Prince’s cut taste buds 😀

  7. I just came onto your post and found it quite interesting. I am also associated with hotels in amritsar, hotels near golden temple and enjoy to read the stuff on the same as it’s rarely found on hotels.

  8. Amritsar is world famous for its Lassi. You will find a plethora of shops involved this business. The cuisine of Amritsar is not complete till you relish its Lassi. There are many shops in Amritsar but place to be visited is Gian Chand Lassi Wale o/p Regent Cinema, Katra Sher Singh, Amritsar. It mixes the right kind of flavors to give a strange kind of tang to your tongue and then settle down in your stomach comfortably. It is served with cream on it. Its die hard customers who keep on coming in large number are crazy for his Perre wali Lassi. His face was beaming with pride and happiness. For him, it is the be all and end all of life. It is more important than making money. That is the trait of a typical Amritsari.

  9. All reviews from the people who have visited kesar da dhaba and there thoughts:-

    Sahil Arora
    reviewed 2 months ago
    Bakwas food now..coslty ..chane dal have no taste ….pehle wali gal nhi reh gayi hun taste di…

    Kumar Vikram
    reviewed 5 months ago
    Khana to bot swad hai par rate bot jada hai

    Arun Saxena
    reviewed 4 months ago
    Food not at all worth appreciation,our local dhaba serves much better. LASSI was good

    Adit Ankit
    reviewed a month ago
    Good but very untidy place

    Gurshabad Bakshi
    reviewed a year ago
    awesome dal makhni….and truly delicious phirni….love eating here… must try…

    Ekas Daat
    reviewed 5 months ago
    Vry costly no guarantee bad food

    jyoti julka
    reviewed a year ago
    I had yummiest dal n parantha ever…inexpensive and hygienic food…m loving it..

    Vimal Joshi
    reviewed 2 months ago
    Good place

    Kawaljit Singh
    reviewed 6 months ago
    Only repution,no good food here,no spice as kesar da dhaba is known,i m so disapointed…

    Baljinder Singh
    reviewed 9 months ago
    Bakwas. No namak no mirch no masala. tel he tel. 145 de 2 parothe. Is nalo kulcha land da 20 rupe wala kulcha kite changa

    Shyam Seshadri
    reviewed 9 months ago
    Excellent lip smacking finger licking good food. Lassi to die for and parathas that are awesome enough to be eaten just by itself. Don’t miss the chana fry!!

    Mrinal Mehra
    reviewed 10 months ago
    The best typical Amritsari food. Just love to go to this place again and again. Pure veg prep. My favorite dining area.

    Vinay Singh
    reviewed a year ago
    must be good as per highway on my plate latchacha parantheses great

    Vishal Saxena
    reviewed 10 months ago
    For the most awesome Lassi in Amritsar..This is the place to be..

    shivam sharma
    reviewed 7 months ago
    Nice remembarable

    These are some comments from the people who had visited this place. As guys staff was to arrogant and the place was so untidy that is my personal experience and some staff over there stares at girls so badly.