Jiggs Kalra: the person who cooked and taught us to cook great authentic North-Indian food passionately. When I was in school, I used to watch his cooking show (Daawat) on TV and I am quite sure that it was the first cooking show I ever watched. Whether it is his newly opened Masala Library or his good old Punjab Grill at Ville Parle, it always promises one thing: the taste of India at its best! Punjab Grill has authentic Punjabi (and Kashmiri) food in its repertoire. When I got the invite from the Food Bloggers Association of India for tasting the winter menu at Punjab Grill, I already knew that soon I would be in for a distinctive experience!
What I loved about Punjab Grill is the way Chef Gurpreet preserved the Punjabi culinary heritage. He presented us with an array of delectable dishes, some of which were cooked in special ways, such as the chaat being smoked with apple wood or the kaanji fermentation in an earthen pot for 72 hours! At Punjab Grill, as I chewed each morsel, every dish took me to the beautiful land of undivided Punjab, where food was full of flavour and richness. People of Punjab believe in eating good food and eating well. Milk cream, ghee and yogurt are a few ingredients they love to add to their robust dishes.
The food at Punjab Grill echoes village-style desi cooking, and believe me, it is really out-of-the-world. If you love comforting and rich North-Indian dishes, Punjab Grill is the place to be. The portions are designed to be copious, and are perfect with anyone having real Punjabi appetite. The food is very promising and addictive, bursting with natural flavours, cooked skilfully.
One of the cocktails to die for at Punjab Grill, with the magical touch of Indian spices, is a fiery concoction of guava juice and rum, along with tabasco sauce, green chilli shreds and chaat masala! The grape martini was good. The strawberry cocktail and the Sangria were also impressive.
Among the winter menu exotica is the probiotic traditional soup called Kaali Gajar Kaanji, and the chef at Punjab Grill makes it in a special way, with black winter carrots. The carrots are mixed with some spices, including mustard, and fermented or matured in an earthen pot for 72 hours. The soup tasted just divine and I never had anything like this before. It is perfect to warm you up on chilly nights and serves as a great appetizer!
Shakarkandi Kamrakh Chaat (a tangy salad of sweet potato and starfruit) followed next. Growing up in Delhi (which has really cold winters), I had this chaat umpteen number of times with my collegemates on my way back home. It tasted sweet and sour and just perfect to satisfy that little hunger in a tangy way.
The same chaat got a new avatar in Punjab Grill and I absolutely loved the makeover. They served it with crisp, fried potato sticks and the whole thing was smoked with fragrant apple wood. How interesting!
The Kharode ka Shorba (a soup with lamb trotters) was comforting and delicious, and I particularly liked it as I love lamb trotters. It was served with cheese-stuffed bread balls and fried, crispy onions. However, this soup was a bit heavy, although I understand, that’s how all lamb trotter soups are meant to be.
The vegetarian beetroot kebab, called Chukander ke Kebab, was good, but the previous two dishes dominated my tastebuds and food memory. Just when I was craving for my dose of protein again, the Bheja Masala arrived, along with special breads. Bheja Masala was a no-frills, simple lamb-brain dish, oozing with taste with the addition of garam masala to it. You will love this dish if you love lamb brain. Bheja (brain) is a delicacy if cooked correctly, and the chef cooked it perfectly!
The Tabak Maaz (Kashmiri fried lamb ribs) was very succulent, as the ribs were cooked to perfection using fennel-flavoured milk. The portion was huge too!
The Methi Chicken Tikka was lip-smacking. The meat was soft and the flavours infiltrated right till the core of the chicken pieces. The tikka was beautifully done. I love the way these looked: big chunks of pure pleasure!
Next time, I would surely make it a point not to miss their signature Punjabi hot pot with mutton kofta, mutton jus and winter vegetables. I had to leave for home, so could not taste the rest of the dishes in the menu. The great winter meal at Punjab Grill was a truly memorable one, and I would strongly recommend to try their winter menu. Balle balle for Punjab Grill!