Eat the Strip

Punjabi Canteen

1234 Merivale Rd, Ottawa, ON K2C 4C3

March 19, 2023 1:11 PM

By: Ameya Charnalia


For our first Eat the Strip adventure, it was fitting that we chose something close to home.

Not only is Punjabi Canteen, a busy corner unit in the strip mall by Merivale Drive and Central Park Drive, in our neighbourhood of Carlington, but it also serves up cuisine from the country of my birth: India.

More specifically, the food is from Punjab, a region that was divided between India and Pakistan after a long anti-colonial struggle, during the partition of India.

The food is rich and reflects the agricultural tradition of the region. You'll spot the classics on the menu right away: butter chicken, chicken tikka and palak paneer. Solid choices. But where Punjabi Canteen really shines is breakfast. Yes. Delicious Punjabi breakfast dishes such as paranthas are available until 3 p.m. daily.

We visited on a Sunday afternoon. Servers were bringing piping hot breads and curries to families chattering over the latest Punjabi music playing on the speakers.

Amristari kulcha, one of Punjabi Canteen's specialities, and a popular dish from Punjab
Amristari kulcha, one of Punjabi Canteen's specialities, and a popular dish from Punjab

Staff recommended we order the Amrtisari kulcha, originally from the city of Amritsar in Punjab. The kulcha is stuffed with mashed potatoes, paneer and spices. However, unlike its more popular stuffed-bread cousin—the parantha—kulchas are usually served with a spicy potato or chickpea curry. The portions were sizeable, with one giant kulcha cut into four servings, each measuring around the same as a slice of pizza.

We decided to share an order of the Amritsari kulcha between the two of us. The bread was delicious. It was piping hot, flavourful and a smattering of coriander seeds added a welcome crunch to each bite. While the chickpeas were still a little tough, the curry was spicy and a perfect remedy to warm you up on a cold Ottawa day in March.

Coriander seeds were a welcome addition to the Amrtisari kulcha
Coriander seeds were a welcome addition to the Amrtisari kulcha

The dish was also served with a side of pickled onions. Tangy and crunchy, the onions provided heat relief between mouthfuls of kulcha and chickpea curry.

We wrapped up our meal and headed to the counter pay. The total damage, after taxes, was $14.68. We left with our bellies happy, already discussing the paranthas we’ll order next time we visit our local desi joint.

As I wrap up writing this review, my partner Danielle reminds me to give a shoutout to Punjabi Canteen for their Indian sweets and samosas, both of which we rely on heavily for apetizers, or as a last-minute purchase for potlucks.