I wouldn’t be surprised if my tea came with a melting square raft of butter in Amritsar. This sinful fat stares at you on everything you eat and the Amritsaris make no attempt to hide it. In fact, I think it borders on inhospitable if you serve anything in this holy city without a generous dollop.
My first encounter of the buttery kind was at “Gianni Lassi Walla”. I was prepared for butter smeared onto my paratha, but when the old man at the counter served me a tall (half-glass if you please) thick, sugary concoction with a dollop of butter half the size of the glass, I promptly returned it. I thought he had made some kind of mistake. So I politely told him that someone had accidently put some butter instead of malai on my drink. He simply stared at me, befuddled in a ‘what-is-your-point’ kind of way. In Amritsar having malai (fresh thick cream of the 1million calorie count) on your lassi is not an extra topping, it is the lassi. The real topping is the butter on top of the malai. Fresh, white, ultra creamy melt in your mouth into a pool of sweet trickly clogging butter!
He didn’t take the lassi back, he reached under the counter and raised his hand at me. I thought I was about to get a taste of the famous Sikh fighting spirit. But he only mistook my confusion as a complaint. And before I knew it (to the envy of the line that had formed behind me for their mid-morning lassi fix), the outstretched hand had plopped on an extra topping of butter on my butter.