Early in the month of March we headed to Punjab Grill to try out their Rangla Punjab Food Festival menu. Two things that I love about Punjabis is their fun-loving attitude towards life and their rich diet, (turns toward the waiter) Lassi la oye! Malai Maarke!
Our journey through the Punjabi culinary started with Kaali Gajar Di Kanji. Kanji is a fermented winter drink made with Black Carrots, Beetroot, Mustard seeds and Heeng or Asafoetida. It is usually fermented for a day or two before it is ready for serving. I called it a winter drink for a reason; even though it was served chilled I could feel it warming up body with every second sip. The flavours were strong. It is not the kind of drink you’ll love in the first sip; it’s the kind that gradually grows on your tastebuds.
Dahi Ke Kebab was the first appetiser served to us. I’ve had Dahi ke Kebab at a couple of places but nothing like this one. Unlike the other places, this one didn’t have bread holding the dahi together, which pleasantly surprised me. It was all curd inside. Dahi had a lovely sweetish flavour with light masala that made the kebabs very appetizing.
Dahi Ke Kebab were followed by Amritsari Babycorn, babycorn marinated in spicy amritsari masala served with chutney and chips. Another perfect starter that vanished in no time. The flavour of the marination had an interesting blend of ajwain, ginger, garlic, jeera and chili powder adding on the spicy touch.
For the mains we had Pind Da Saag and Khoya Paneer. With the first couple of morsels of Pind Da Saag I felt I was running through the Sarson Ke Khet. The dish felt so fresh and homely that it evidently brought a feeling of Biji Ke Haath Ka Khana. I’ve been told that it takes skills to make Sarson Ka Saag / Pind Da Saag. A little variation in the proportions can introduce a bitter flavour. But this one was made to perfection.
The Khoya Paneer was a sweet malaidaar paneer ki subji that suited very well to my Gujju tastebuds (we’re used to sugar in almost every dish we Gujaratis make). The subji was definitely rich and the softness of the paneer made it a pleasant one.
But the Hero of the dinner had to be Maa Choley Di Dal. Wow! Wow! Wow! Is all I said with every spoon I ate. It was made with a variety of pulses with an irresistible flavour. We loved it so much that we ordered for another serving. This time they added an extra dollop of desi makhan on top with took the flavour 2 notches higher. My God I just went crazy! I wiped my bowl clean with the last bite of the roti; truely the most delicious dal I’ve ever had. I fell in love with it, so much that I parcelled one more portion. The staff was kind enough to also pack a small portion of desi makhan with it.
Harey Chholiya Da Pulao was served with that legendary Dal. Every grain of the basmati rice was cooked to perfection. The caramelized onions added a sweet touch while the Chickpeas and Peas brought in a slight crunch making the pulao a wholesome affair.
The Chaach served as a palate cleanser before we dug into the mind-boggling desserts. It had a thick foam on top was smooth and had freshly ground masala giving it a rustic flavour.
Now you must be wondering ki yeh sab toh theek hai pra lekin meethe mein kya tha? Well meethe mein we had Gurh Wale Chaawal – sweet, jaggery rice with ginger and almond shavings that had a lovely after-taste of Fennel. Masala Gud was quite similar to the God Papadi that is common in the Gujarati household. Jaggery is the main ingredient in this dish. What sets this one apart are the flavours of black pepper corn, ginger, ghee and garam masala
Finally came in the Heroine of the Punjabi culinary affair, the Makhane Di Kheer – fried makhana kheer with rabdi and dry fruits. What was it like? Legend – wait for it – a little longer – dary!! LEGENDARY! (Barney Stinson style) I would trade any, I mean any, western dessert for this mind-boggling desi dessert. We were so stuffed that we decided to share one amongst the four of us but I was sold. I alone finished two entire portions of this insanely awesome Kheer (drooling with the mere thought of it).
I loved every dish from the Rangla Punjab menu for its simple yet rich taste. With every bite I experienced a burst of joy within me. The experience was so delightful that I felt like doing Bhangra with Chef Sunny. What was worth noting is that even after eating so much food I did not feel sick-heavy; the reason being that all the preparations were made with desi ghee. I was happy-stuffed!
While Punjab Grill had designed the Rangla Punjab menu to celebrate Lohri, a popular Punjabi festival celebrated to mark the end of peak winter, you could visit the restaurant today to try out some of the aforementioned dishes and celebrate the festival of Baisakhi.
Baisakhi is the Punjabi harvest festival which falls on the first of the solar month of Vaisakha. The day is observed as a thanksgiving day by the farmers where they thank God for the abundant harvest and pray for future prosperity. The harvest festival is also characterised by the folk dance Bhangra which traditionally is a harvest dance. Baisakhi fairs are held at many places in the Punjabi regions as a part of the celebration.