Punjabi cuisine is all about lavish dishes, aromatic flavours, abundant gravies, versatile platter and age-old recipes. The cuisine, which is much more than Chole-Kulche and Makki di Roti and Sarson da Saag, is as colourful as the Punjabi culture itself. From Dal Makhani to Tandoori Chicken, Naan, Paratha, Lassi, Rajma-Chawal, Alu Gobi, Chole Bhature, Butter Chicken and so on — there’s a lot of variety in the cuisine which leaves you asking for more. The rich flavours and appetising aroma of spices make it one of the most popular cuisines not only in India but across the globe.
To bring the ‘asli Punjab da swad’ to Pune, Eighty Eight Hyatt Pune, Kalyani Nagar, has organised Punjabi Food Carnival. If you want to dig into Fish Amritsari, Mutton Champ, Bhatti Da Paneer, Dal Phirni and other delicacies, head straight to the place. The menu has been specially curated by chef Ashish Sharma from Hyatt Amritsar who has joined the Hyatt Pune team. Besides mouthwatering dishes and an ambience which will instantly transport you to the ‘land of five rivers,’ you will get to enjoy the foot-tapping beats of bhangra and Punjabi folk music. The servers dressed in traditional Punjabi attire add to the carnival gaiety.
The opulent restaurant has been transformed into a village-like set-up decorated with life-size cutouts of Punjabis doing bhangra, bullock carts, the entrance of a dhaba and so on for you to soak up the rustic atmosphere. As we stepped in, we were given a welcome drink — a glass of Gulabi Lassi (a popular, traditional, yoghurt-based drink infused with rose syrup). It is a known fact how delicious and filling Punjab’s Lassi is and this too kept up to its reputation.
As we enjoyed the drink, the aroma of deliciously cooked food wafted through the air and tempted us to go and check out the buffet counter. Starters like Tandoori Chicken, Paneer Tikka Salad, Gosht Shorba, Soya Malai Chaap, Bun Tikki, Bhutte ki Kebab, Aloo Tikki, Mutton Chaap, among various other delectable Punjabi snacks, were on the platter. One could also enjoy starters right from the live counter.
Sharma, who hails from Amritsar, says, “Chaap having both a vegetarian variant made with soya and a non-vegetarian version cooked with chicken or mutton is a traditional Punjabi street food. Aapko har gulli mein yeh milenge (you’ll find them in every lane and bylane of Amritsar). Besides Chaap, Kulche-Chole, which again has many variants, is one of the most popular foods in Punjab. And Amritsari Kulcha is the best!”
About the menu at Punjabi Food Carnival, the chef, who feels that there is nothing better than ghar ka khana, says that he has tried to recreate his mother’s recipes. He says, “It is impossible to showcase every single item which is a part of our cuisine, hence the curated menu has the most popular items enjoyed in Punjab. Most of the items that we are offering here are the ones cooked at home — something my mom too cooks at home everyday.”
At the festival, in the main course section, you can savour dishes like Aloo Gobi, Kulche-Chole, Sarson da Saag, Punjabi Pakoda Kadhi, Amritsari Macchi Curry, Mutton Curry, Mixed Vegetable Curry, Palak Paneer, Jeera Rice, Butter Chicken, and so on which have been prepared using traditional Punjabi ingredients, spices and techniques.
“Tandoor is an essential part of Punjabi cuisine hence Tandoori Roti and Tandoori Chicken are so popular. Vegetables, especially the leafy variety, constitute a big part of our diet which is why saag is relished. We cook in mustard oil but never refrain from using homemade ghee in our parathas and desserts. In Amritsar, traditionally, people domesticate cows hence dairy products remain a large part of our cuisine. So whether it is ghee, butter, lassi or desserts, we are totally in love with milk products,” he quips.
He further adds that amchur, and other roasted and ground masalas like garam masala, jeera and red chillies are essential spices for Punjabi cooking.
The culinary journey is incomplete without tasting traditional desserts like Dodha Barfi, Gulab Jamun, Pinni and Moong Dal Ka Halwa. We did devoured a few of them. Guilty pleasures you know!
ST READER SERVICE
Punjabi Food Carnival at Eighty Eight,
Hyatt Pune, Kalyani Nagar, continues till Sep 18 for dinner buffet from 7-11 pm