“Jo Bole So Nihal”, I wouldn’t mind screaming this Jaikara, the shout of victory, triumph or even exultation a hundred times and again and again when I am called to experience the Sikh hospitality, perhaps one of the most loving and caring of all the vibrant cultures of India.
“Whoever utters shall be happy, shall be fulfilled”, that’s what this phrase in Punjabi means and I surely was happy when I walked in to the Nawab Saheb restaurant at Hotel Renaissance, Powai to enjoy the Baisakhi Food Festival. And when I walked out after an amazing treat, I was fulfilled, as well.
I know the maxim which goes, “All’s well that ends well”, but for a foodie like me, I always keep reminding that it’s the other way round. When I go to enjoy a gastronomic treat at a restaurant, the first dish presented to me makes the lasting impression in my mind as to what is in store for the course of the meal.
The Kulhad Lassi that I commenced my Baisakhi Food harvest was quite appetising. The yoghurt based drink had a perfect blend of yoghurt, water and sweetened just enough. It surely made me shake my leg for a few Bhangra steps before settling down for the culinary treat.
I would have surely expected a few more variants of coolers and ales to go with the spicy food that Punjab is associated with and I was a bit disappointed on this count that there were none other than the Lassi.
For the starters, the choices were as myriad as the moods of a Punjabi, skewed or grilled or even barbequed.
I started off with Multan Punjab Di Pasliyan which was Charcoal grilled lamb ribs in a ginger garlic paste and an abundance of home ground spices and it surely was rib tickling.
I moved on to Bhatti Da Murgh, the Tandoor cooked chicken thigh with bone which made me feel high in the yoghurt marinade.
The Amritsari Macchi Taliyan, the batter fried sole fish in gram flour with just enough Chilli and Indian spices surely stirred my soul.
Not the kind to chicken out so easily, I shifted back to Jalandhar De Tikke, again another variety of the Tandoor roasted chicken but this time with a distinct taste of the cream cheese marinade, which was so aptly cooked that the pieces just melted in my mouth.
The last on the list was the Kheema Di Seekh, which was the Lamb minced meat with cheese butter and all the Indian spices cooked on skewer. I would be candid to admit that I found this a bit rough and a little too bland than I would have expected.
After these amazing starters I savoured, I was eagerly waiting for the main course and I wasn’t disappointed a bit when it came.
The Khaasa Murgh, the pot roasted chicken cooked in tomatoes and lots of poppy seeds was surely as Khaas as it could get and a refreshing delight.
The next on the list, the Makhani Kukkad De Tikke, the Tandoor cooked chicken again in a gravy of tomatoes, cashews and cream was a pleasant surprise, being different from the normal butter chicken varieties that we get elsewhere, here the chicken pieces were first tandoor cooked and the tikka pieces were then cooked in the butter gravy.
The Naabe Wala Meat, the only meat variety in the main course was one of the best dishes of the evening for me, the Lamb pieces so perfectly cooked that the flesh would fall off the bones and with a perfect blend of onion, fenugreek powder and curd.
Though being a hardcore non-vegetarian, the Dal Makhani was surely the signature dish of the evening. The Stewed Urad Lentils with home churned butter tasted as if it was made the perfect way over hours to make the lentils and tomatoes blend the right way.
The rice to go with these amazing dishes was the Memna Pulao, the authentic Basmati Rice, with magnanimous pieces of baby Lamb, Indian spices and saffron.
There was an assortment of Rotis, the Indian bread too to go with it.
While I surely enjoyed all these, I surely missed the Makai Di Roti and the Sarson Da Saag, which I honestly believe should be an integral part of any Punjabi Food festival.
The desserts counter to end the meal had most of the Indian sweet variants and was a good choice to end a terrific meal. However, I was a bit disappointed not to see any authentic Punjabi variety of sweet and desserts in there.
For all those who must be wondering what’s there for the vegetarians, let me mention that there is enough and more than all this for the vegans too, though I had skipped and had decided to go full non-vegetarian in this #BaisakhiFoodFest.