A Foodie's Guide To Punjab University's Must-Visit Eateries
Image Credit: Our food trail starts from Punjab University's Students' Centre or StuC

This article is part of Slurrp's Friday Food Walks. Catch up with our previous tours, through Chennai's SowcarpetKolkata's Simla Mishti Para, and Srinagar's Dargah Hazratbal.


THE partition of India in 1947 spurred the need for East Punjab to have its own university as the Punjab University founded in 1882 was left to Pakistan in Lahore.

The present-day Punjab University (PU), after being moved a couple of times to different cities post 1947, eventually shifted to its current campus at Chandigarh in the year 1956. Designed by the architect duo Corbusier and Jeanneret, PU was conceptualised as a self-contained township on 550 acres. The University precinct is home to some heritage buildings and shopping areas that boast of an extensive list of food and drink outlets. Some of these outlets had very humble beginnings back in 1956, but over time they've become iconic landmarks not just within the University but also in the city itself. Here's a list of some of those popular places that you should try inside the Punjab University Campus, following a trail that starts from the Students' Centre or StuC.

📍1. Coffee House

Students' Centre or StuC, (a heritage building) is the best starting point. It's always bustling with student activity as it comprises the Students' Council, a Common Room, Library etc. Opened in 1975, a ramp that runs around the cylindrical architecture leads you to the top floor that accommodates the Coffee House (formerly Indian Coffee House). This place is synonymous with South Indian fare, and serve their extremely popular masala dosa and coffee from 9 AM to 8 PM. The dosas (under ₹ 70/-) are legendary here and the dining area provides 360-degree views of the University. Much of the food and interiors have remained the same since its first day of operation and a meal here is like stepping back in time. The Coffee House shut down during the COVID pandemic for over three years but has reopened as of July 2023 to serve the fantastic food it was always known for.

📍2. Shake Club

Exiting the ramp from the StuC brings you to a small market consisting of innumerable shops serving Indian food, Indo Chinese fare, sandwiches, burgers, shakes, juices etc. This market started around the turn of the century, adding affordable food and drinks catering to the changing preferences of the students. While most of these outlets do good sales every day, Shake Club is one that sees phenomenal crowds throughout its opening hours from 9 AM to 9 PM. The Oreo, chocolate, banana shakes and juices fly off the shelves, the most popular order being the 1.25 litre-mug brimming with your preferred beverage. We tried the fresh watermelon juice and three of us couldn't finish it. Priced at ₹ 140/- it's one of the best drinks for this humid season, and will easily be good enough for 3-4 of you!

📍3. Kailash Tea Stall

A short five-minute walk from the StuC takes you to the administrative block where you'll find this extremely popular 'hole in the wall' shop. The elaichi (cardamom) chai served with three kinds of samosas (aloo, noodle and pasta) priced under ₹15/- each have made Kailash the top spot for casual catch-ups over the past 23 years or so. Nothing much seems to have changed and a tungsten bulb placed over the samosas to keep them warm and the tea served in thick porcelain cups are testament to it. However, it's the way they serve the samosas — cut into equal halves and smothered in their heavenly chutneys — that brings students back over and over.

📍4. Panjab Sweets

Crossing over the road from Kailash Tea Stall, you come to one of the oldest shops in the PU Main Market. Panjab Sweets was started in the residential quarters of PU at the invitation of the VC back in 1956 and eventually moved into this structure in 1958 where it still operates from. The eatery started off with making pakoras from within the (proprietor’s) residential quarters and those pakoras are still the most popular eats here. The bread roll and paneer pakoras, priced at ₹20/- a piece & ₹36/- per 100 grams respectively, are my picks at this place. Paired with chai or lassi, these are an absolute delight in the monsoon.

📍5. Babe Da Dhaba

Another short five-minute walk from Panjab Sweets, towards the staff flats near Gate No. 2, is where you'll find 'Babe da Dhaba'. Started in 1998 at the request of the then VC, it's hard to miss this temporary structure serving home-style cooked, affordable meals in a rustic setting. The pavement slabs supported on bricks make for tables and a tarpaulin serves as the roof. Cooking starts every morning at 8 and lunch is served between noon to 3 PM. A simple meal consisting of dal, rajma, chana, seasonal vegetables and curd, with tandoori roti or parantha, costing well under ₹100/-, finds many takers. It's hard to find an empty table during lunch time and by 3 PM they usually run out of food. The delicious food aside, it's quite an experience sitting and dining with strangers, getting their recommendations on what to try and striking up unexpected conversations. A one-off experience that's highly recommended.

While there are several more food outlets within the PU campus, these few have carved a niche for themselves; most either have a story behind them, a unique experience, or simply fantastic food. It's this trail to follow for a food lover — from the iconic heritage building of the StuC to the Staff Flats near Gate No. 2. The walk amidst some heritage buildings, landmarks and green parks also offers a peek into the daily life of PU students. It's one experience that while centred on food is about much more than solely food!