Dhaba Estd 1986 Delhi, recently came to Pune, opening its 10th outlet in the country. The restaurant’s primarily North Indian cuisine has been previously accepted in Delhi NCR, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Each of these Dhabas is an ode to the Indian highways that have always served as fantastic food memories for everyone at different points in their lives.
A venture of Azure Hospitality, the Dhaba displays vintage collages and posters, as the décor pays tribute to the ’80s and ’90s India. With folksy artwork on the walls along with signature Dhaba posters, the 80-seater restaurant gives a complete highway feel, replete with Bollywood music. The signature truck art adds to the overall dining experience. The outdoor area is designed like an akhada for pehelwans or a wrestler’s den as seen in the villages of North India. There is also a mock façade of a building, which is designed like a small town.
Coming to the kitchen, it carries the legacy of over 30 years. There are our favourite age-old recipes as also some redesigned ones inspired by travels down the highways of India and the eccentric by-lanes of old towns famous for unique recipes. While the essence and soul of Dhaba is Punjabi food, a whole range of regional dishes are available for indulgence.
We began with starters as is the norm. While there is a wide range to choose from — Tandoori Bhune Aloo, Amritsari Macchi and a lot more — what we loved most was Galouti Kebab. Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions melted in our mouth the moment we took a bite. These are a must-have at the Dhaba.
There is also Amritsari Kukkad (made with chicken marinated with curd and has a dominating flavour of ginger and garlic), Tandoori Prawns and Highway Chicken Tikka for the non-vegetarians, and Tandoori Bhuni Sabziyaan made with yogurt marinated vegetables and a hint of ajwain, and Dhaba Paneer Tikka for the vegetarians.
Before we moved on to the main course, we were also served a tray full of desi mocktails. From kala khatta, to sugarcane juice and jal jeera — everything was given a unique twist and called Ganne Ka Ras, Jal Jeera, Shikanji, Kala Khatta, Aam Panna — by the in-house chefs and served in a rather interesting tray that looked like a pull-cart.
The main course had everything that our Indian tummies crave for. For the vegetarians, there is Chitta Butter; and for meat lovers, there is Balti Meat and Butter Chicken. Balti Meat is what we couldn’t get enough of. Cooked just right, this mutton preparation was perfectly spiced. For vegetarians, there’s Lahsooni Palak, Paneer Makhan Maar Ke and Kanastari Baingan Bharta, which is the Dhaba’s signature preparation of eggplants cooked in tandoor, mashed and finished with royal cumin, tomato, ginger and green chilli. Age-old favourites like Daal Dhaba, Chitti Aloo Gobhi and Amritsari Chole are available too.
There was also Chitti Butter Chicken, chicken cooked in white gravy, which we didn’t particularly like, but can find takers among the not-so-spicy foodies.
There are also innovative dishes for those who want to experiment beyond the traditional — Mushroom Hara Pyaza, Tawa Chili Paneer, Mutton Tak A Tak and Tawa Punjabi Kukkad Masala made with spicy chicken in thick tomato and onion gravy cooked on cast iron tawa. Palak Paneer Ki Seekh, Khade Masale Ka Paneer Tikka, Malai Soya Chaap Murgh Malai Tikka and Mutton Seekh Kebab are also delicious.
The Dhaba has our favourite desserts too. To end our meal on a sweet note, we chose Dhaba Da Meetha and Gulab Jamun. The Dhaba Da Meetha was a layered sweet with rasmalai, phirnee and a tiny gulab jamun. There are also other options like Badam Halwa, Rabri, Gulab Jamun, Rasmalai and Kesri Phirnee.
ST READER SERVICE
Dhaba Estd 1986 Delhi is located on the 2nd floor at The Pavillion, Senapati Bapat Road, and is open from 12 noon to 4 pm; and 6.30-11 pm on weekdays, and 12 noon-11 pm on weekends. Meal price for two is Rs 2,100 (approx)