Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ikk Panjab

"Ek Dal Makhni, Ek Paneer Butter Masala aur Do Butter Naan"

If I had a thousand rupee note for every time my family dinners constituted various renditions of the abovementioned, I would be a crorepati, albeit of illegal, unwanted tender.

Having grown up in a vegetarian Punjabi household of teetotalers, Tandoori and Buttered platings of our brethren, the chicken and mutton, have stayed off the usual dinner orders during family outings. So, the Dal and Paneer reign. Now, with changing Punjabi trends, such as replacement of the words "kudiye" with "swag Gucci saree wali brown patola", it was about time that our vegetarian Punjabi dinners be given an equivalent upliftment.

Enters another Punjabi restaurant in the middle of Dilli da Brampton aka Rajouri Garden Market - Ikk Panjab.

Focused on "rediscovering lost recipes", the restaurant is an attempt to bring authentic flavors from pre-partition India. While it says so as its official tagline, the claim resonates equally in the decor - blown-up monochrome prints of the Sikh Regiment from 1940 amidst models of the rifles used in the Mutiny.

Nothing short of a museum, the restaurant tries its best to add to the minutest details, wherever possible - such as food being plated on a sil-batta; handcrafted copper bottles complete with perfectly aligned dents of a coppersmith's hammer; and types of achaar paanch - signifying the "punj" on a custom-designed wooden platter with the restaurant's branding.

The menu, however, plays with flavors authentic, yet differentiates itself in what it does with the offering. "Oh Teri" is the gimmick you begin with - a butter chicken samosa, followed by the choicest picks from The California Boulevard menu that fit the theme - the Palak Patte ki Chaat and Ambarsari Fish n Chips.

I'd recommend you try the Adraki Matran di Tikki, even if the "adrak" in the name may sound intimidating, and the Rahra Soya Missi Roti Taco - which is a filling of soya nuggets in a taco shell of missi roti.

For non-vegetarians, I'd trust the good fellow who accompanied me for dinner and swore by the quality of the Raan, which I've been told is done so well only at the Bukhara's or in Pakistan. (Disclaimer: The said friend has never visited Pakistan. When I questioned his claim, he reminded me how I liked this facebook post in hope of benefiting this gentleman half a rupee for his cardiac cancer. I then shut myself about trust and belief. Born debater, I tell you. Give him the benefit of the doubt). 

In my search for the substitute of a Dal and Paneer combo, I'd ordered the Achari Baingan and Punjabi Kadhi, both worth every dime you throw here - almost like the bhaint of an anna in a wishing well from Sikh history.

And how could I forget the drinks! To a Punjabi true to his roots, the Gud Wali Lassi may sound inviting, but I'd recommend you trust the signature items - the Tikhi Punjaban, a drink of tamarind juice, laal mirch and churan in a base of pomegranate; or the Dudh Soda, your favorite Roohafza Milk from a sunny Gurpurab afternoon spiked with some bubbly of the virgin variety.

The place is quite a drive from Gurgaon, but if you've lived in one of the refugee colonies of Delhi for a part of your life, and have some relatives still inhabiting one such in Western Delhi, there's a high chance this falls en route their address.

If my experiences of Punjabi women count, I'd recommend you save yourself some bickering on the way back home from your relatives', by skipping lunch/ dinner that your chachi/ maami/ bua would have prepared and bringing your mother here. I promise neither the servers nor the chef would mind if they hear her say, "Main koi isse kamm achha khaana banaati hoon?" The way she would devour it despite her diabetes will be enough signal for the staff to smile.

And I dare your pyo to suggest skipping dessert for an ice-cream from the thela outside. The Pathani Kesar Badam Kulfi and the Taran Taaran Jalebi are hard to miss. 

If you own a Punjabi restaurant in Rajouri Garden or Timbuktoo, I urge you to visit this spectacle and order just their Jalebi. That my friend is what you call a Jalebi. Trust me, I run a blog with that name.