In the ever-bustling Kala Ghoda in Mumbai, the old and new co-exist in perfect harmony. It is here that Punjab Grill – the gourmet fine dining restaurant – has opened it’s latest outlet. It replaces Silk Route, an old oriental eatery, and is adjacent to the iconic Rhythm House. Punjab Grill has championed homestyle Punjabi cooking under the guidance of their new Executive Chef, Amitesh Virdi, and this truly an experience to savour.
The menu boasts of homely Punjabi food with dishes like tori ki subzi, baingan da bhartha, pyaaz waali bhindi, dhaniya mirch da kukkad, mutton curry, accompanied by the usual makhani gravies, and introduction of seafood with Punjabi influences as seafood is not primary to Punjabi cuisine. I am vegetarian hence couldn’t try those dishes, but from what I’ve heard about it from fellow foodies, it is exceptionally good. Roxanne Bamboat of The Tiny Taster highly recommends the hara masala lobster for all you seafood fans.
The kesari lassi is a must, for if you’re in a restaurant that serves Punjabi cuisine, according to me, the thickness of the lassi can very well be litmus test for them, and well Punjab Grill passed that with flying colours. The lassi was what any Punjabi’s dreams are made of – thick, sweet and nasha inducing! You literally need a spoon to devour this.
The bhatti da murg or chicken leg cooked in a bhatti (tandoor) and generously smeared in masalas was a favourite of my friend who accompanied me for lunch. The fact that it was delicious was visible when he went quite and his eyes lit up as he took a bite of this appetiser. In his own words, “this is the best tandoori chicken I’ve had till date.” He was also served a mutton sheekh as part of the platter.
The vegetarian appetiser platter came with tandoori shakarkand (sweet potato), dahi kebab and kurkuri bhindi (Okra). The shakarkand was just as I’d have it a home – crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and sprinkled with chaat masala. The dahi kebab was one of the nicest one’s I’ve had the opportunity of tasting as the subtle flavours in the hung curd were just perfect, and miraculously the kebab held it’s shape and didn’t crumble on breaking it, as is the case with dahi kebabs. Chef Virdi explained that this always depends on how long the yoghurt was kept hung for. It was also nice to see kurkuri bhindi as an appetiser, as I’ve always felt that a dish like that would always taste best accompanied with drinks.
Chef Virdi is a typical Punjabi person, I must say. His warm personality and love for his food and feeding his guests is infectious. I had requested him for tasting portions of the dishes and in keeping the meal light, but true to his Punjabi-ness, when the mains started rolling out, there was no end to it! With a sweet smile he exclaimed, “thoda thoda hi toh hai, Vernika!” You can see in the above picture what “thoda thoda” means.
Although, to be fair to Chef Virdi, when he promised to serve a light homestyle meal, he delivered it to perfection. A vegetable I detest – tori (ridge gourd) was magically the tastiest of them all and I finished it in one go without any accompaniments. The baingan da bhartha was right on the smokey and masala aspect and delicious. So was the pyaaz waali bhindi. Aloo palak, is another delicacy that one doesn’t get to taste outside of their homes, but here it was in all it’s glory and simplicity. Delectable!
What I truly loved about this meal was that it authentic food at it’s best. The word “home-style food” wasn’t misused for once and the chef his team delivered a spectacular fare of dishes, giving a glimpse into the real Punjabi kitchens. Every vegetable retained it’s natural flavour and wasn’t swimming in masalas and cream, unlike what is served in the name of Punjabi food. This was comfort food at it’s best.
Punjab Grill in Kala Ghoda has entered the SoBo market with a bang and is here to stay thanks to it’s authenticity and justice to a regional cuisine which has been corrupted a little too much over the years. Kudos to Chef Virdi and team!
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