Punjabi food in Leicester

A typical Punjabi breakfast of mooli paratha and thick yoghurt.

A typical Punjabi breakfast of mooli paratha and thick dahi.

Although it was the Gujaratis of East Africa who first made their home in the Belgrave area of Leicester, later waves of immigrants from India-proper, especially from the Punjab, arrived to the city, bringing with them their own regional dishes and ingredients. Though Punjabi food is perhaps best represented in Southall  (a kind of mini-Amritsar in the heart of suburban West London), you can still enjoy authentic versions of this famous Indian cuisine amid Belgrave’s myriad Gujarati-owned paan, farsan and thali outlets.

For an authentic, worker-style breakfast, (known in Punjabi as nashta) I opted for Punjab Palace, an unassuming little café diner run by a friendly elderly couple cooking up traditional fare out of what looks like their home kitchen. Here I went for a simple mooli paratha with dahi, a thick, low-fat yoghurt, and a sweet masala tea. Hearty and filling, this was the sort of solid, starchy breakfast designed to keep you going until lunchtime.

Chole bhatura at Sharmilee in Leicester.

Chole bhatura at Sharmilee in Leicester.

Despite feeling happy and full, I was already eagerly planning my next meal, which I’d decided was to be the iconic vegetarian dish chole bhatura, a medium-spicy chickpea curry served with bhatura, a puffy fried bread rich in carbs and calories. For this, I headed down the road to Sharmilee, something of an institution in these parts and popular with local Punjabis and non-Punjabis alike. Doubling up as a caterer for lavish Punjabi wedding feasts, the place is packed pretty much every time I walk past, and the plates of food always look copious and appealing. Indeed, chole bhatura was hearty and delicious, and exuded a rich, satisfying home-cooked flavour.

As a way to round off my brief foray into the cuisine of the Punjab, I couldn’t quite resist a couple more snacks back at Punjab Palace. First, a papdi chaat, basically a plate of Indian crisps and chickpeas blended with a spicy tamarind and yoghurt sauce, and a cloying cham cham sweet to round off yet another wonderful culinary adventure.

And a sickly-sweet cham cham to finish.

And a sickly-sweet cham cham to finish.


Punjab Palace
131A Melton Rd

71 Belgrave Rd
LE4 6

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