Kolkata’s famous North Indian restaurant opens its first outlet in Bandra and promises dining with a touch of quirky fun. Shirin Mehrotra stops by for lunch.
With just a handful of restaurants offering decent North Indian fare in the city, a restaurant run by a Punjabi Chef brings with high expectations, “The food here is unlike the usual run-off-the-mill restaurants but is something that can be found in a Punjabi house,” says Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi. “I have tried adding a little twist to the food that my mother used to cook while staying true to the flavours”, he adds.
The host of Turban Tadka on Food Food channel, Chef Harpal is famous for his antics and jokes on the show. The interior décor of the place reflect just this humour starting at the entrance. A Mario Miranda-esque mural welcomes you to the space inside with a few random photographs and quotes.
We started our lunch with flavoured lassi served in cutting chai glasses, the thick creamy mango and chocolate flavoured yogurt (Rs 140) is a must try. There’s an Oreo lassi too (Rs 140) – already a popular with children, we hear.
As we sipped on a tall glass of cool lassi, the starters were served. What we tried was something very different from the regular kebabs and tikkas; Arbi karari (Rs 170) – boiled colocasia patties coated in cornflakes and shallow fried. The added crunch from the cornflakes added a nice textural contrast to the otherwise soft patty. The Mushroom ki galouti (Rs 195) – mushroom kebabs served on small crispy parathas, Popcorn chicken (Rs 240) – boneless pieces of chicken dipped in a spicy batter and deep fried, Bheera da seekh kebab (Rs 280) – succulent mutton kebabs.
All the starters were served with a side of pickled beetroot, Pomegranate chutney, Gud ki chutney with muskmelon seeds and a very Punjabi-styled mango pickle. In fact, the chef even tells us that the pickle is specially ordered from Delhi. After a quick taste, we thought it was delicious and all we wanted to do is to take home a jar.
The bar in this restaurant sits behind a walled partition. While we saw little activity on this weekday afternoon, we sure hope to see more guests enjoying their Patiyala pegs soon.
The main course was a great respite from the oily red and green curries often passed off as North Indian food. We were served four different kinds of dals or lentils including Methi palak dal (Rs 175) – slow cooked dal with fenugreek and spinach and served with a generous ladle of cream and butter, Andon wali dal (Rs 175) – black dal with boiled eggs, Dhaba dal (Rs 175) – a spicy concoction of mixed dals tempered with fried chillies and garlic usually served in the dhabas of Punjab. The methi dal stood out from all of these and is a must try with a crisp buttery Lachcha or Pudina paratha (Rs 60).
With all the delicious fare at the table, we were curious to see what Chef Harpal did with the oft abused and sometimes barely recognisable Butter chicken (Rs 280). Here the gravy is not cooked with tomatoes. Lemon juice is added instead to cut through the rich gravy and add a slightly tart twist. We were a little apprehensive about eating a butter chicken which was white in colour but this can easily be one of the best we’ve had so far. There was also a subtle flavour of lemon grass which was used as a garnish. Surprised? So were we!
Given the amount of butter and cream in the food you might have to walk around a bit to let it settle down and make some space for the dessert. Though the Mirchaan wala halwa (Rs 175) is worth a few minutes of spot jogging. The semolina halwa is made with green chillies and has quite the kick of spice as an aftertaste. Caution: Swallow the halwa carefully! Even so, you should try this dessert, if only to try out this innovative combination by the chef.
We wouldn’t mind heading to The Funjabi Tadka the next time we have a belly rumbling for some asli Punjabi food. This time around, though, we’d like somewhere to curl up and sleep off our very indulgent meal.
Must try: Mango chocolate lassi, methi palak dal.
Meal for two: Rs 1200 +taxes.