Punjab Grill: Where ‘real’ gastronomic Punjab comes alive

Ludhiana, Jan 26 (IANS) Punjab is India’s top destination for mouth-watering gastronomic indulgence. A culinary abundance of flavours for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike makes it one huge foodie capital. The kaleidoscope of aroma, tastes and spices covers everything from butter chicken to attewala chicken and the very famous sarson ka saag with makki ki roti – these are reason enough to visit Punjab!

“Punjab Grill” has now brought these very delicacies to the national capital at three outlets that bring out the best of the state’s cuisine – a taste of which was afforded to food writers from Delhi with a trip to rural Punjab.

The journey to Sohian and Bagrian villages in the heartland of Punjab lent a deeper insight into the culture and the roots from where the Punjab Grill takes its inspiration of presenting the real Punjabi food.

Punjab Grill has three outlets in Delhi and totally eight across India. The cuisine offered here is some of the best food the state has to offer.

The setting was Sohian Heritage, styled in Anglo-Indian architecture and nestled in a 70-acre sylvan and picturesque estate.

The lunch that comprised our first meal at the property was cooked in clay ovens and tandoors in the traditional style of the region.

To start with, a dish that everybody liked the most was kumma Meat. It was brown in colour with earthy flavours and a beautiful aroma. It was cooked for hours in a clay pot that had been buried underground. The round clay pot is called kunna in Punjabi and the mutton turned out earthy in its flavour because of the pot and slow cooking process, so as to provide an ethnic taste.

Another delicious dish was meethi roti, served as a dessert with lots of desi ghee on it, which impressed with the taste and presentation. The secret ingredients were fennel seeds and big black cardamom.

“This style of cooking requires great expertise on the part of the chefs, since the meat is not accompanied by any sauce or gravy, but is only pre-marinated and cooked before serving,” Punjab Grill’s head corporate chef Gurpreet Singh told IANS.

The team did an amazing job, it went to Punjab a month earlier and learnt the exact recipes of rural Punjab. But sadly, these dishes would not be available at the city outlets.

“The base kitchen was set up in the Sohiya kothi only. I got to learn many new recipes from Punjab like Sarson ka Saag, and its important key rule is to cook it overnight and on slow heat,” the chef said with an engaging smile.

The day ended with the authentic dinner, but the dish that made everybody crazy was lachcha palak paneer – a well-known north Indian curry made of blended spinach and delicate paneer. Cream gave it a rich smoothy composition.

After a morning tractor-ride in nippy and foggy weather to the farms to get the real feel of the fields of Punjab, lunch was a laid-back affair in the field and under the sky – an unexpected set-up in chilly weather.

To uncover the world of authentic, mouth-watering Punjabi food, we had countless tasty dishes for lunch. Amidst them, the one that elicited a big smile and amazed everybody at the same time was Kotkapure da attewala kukkad – served directly from the flour shield in which it was cooked.

The chicken was figure licking with true Punjabi flavours and dry fruits in it. When asked about the recipe, the chef said the chicken is marinated and dressed with specially-made spices, tightly wrapped in muslin with a thick covering of kneaded flour and roasted in a slow-fire oven and the chicken is served steaming hot.

The day ended with soothing qawwalis sung by Irshaad Rehmad at Bagaria Fort, situated on the Malerkotla-Nabha Road. It was a lovely evening with delectable food that was luscious, palatable and finger-licking yummy.

All the meals that I had on this trip were pure Punjabi fare – starting from the first serving, the hot milk locally known as tauri da dhudh to the last serving, aam papad and a very well known sweet: dhoda barfi from Kotkapura.

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