By Somrita Ghosh and Gazal Gupta
New Delhi: It’s “tadka marke” (pile on the gravy) time at the Indyaki restaurant in west Delhi, where a Punjab Express food fest is on till the end of the month.
“We have been organising food festivals of different states as we want to promote the variety of Indian food,” Manoj Kumar Semwal, executive sous chef of Indyaki in Radisson Blu Paschim Vihar, told IANS.
“Indian dishes are undergoing changes in cooking styles. People often miss out on the local flavours. The Punjab Express festival will introduce people to the authentic tastes of the state,” Semwal added. To this end, interiors of the restaurant have been given an ethnic Punjabi touch with sugarcane stalks and miniature mustard fields and water wells.
As we comfortably seated ourselves, we were served the masala chaach welcome drink – spiced-up buttermilk in a kulhar (clay cup). The ambiance just got a little more soothing and the live music performance gave it more of an authentic Punjabi feel.
“The food festival offers you three options: dinner (welcome drink, starters and buffet) without alcohol, dinner with unlimited Indian alcohol and dinner with unlimited imported alcohol,” Ranvir, the junior sous chef, told IANS.
As we downed our welcome drink, the restaurant had an unexpected surprise for us, the signature Indyaki Punch made of cola, ginger slices, mint and lemon.
“This is not on our festival menu, but we couldn’t resist offering it to you,” Semwal said with a smile.
The drink was the perfect complement to the myriad vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters that came our way.
The sarson machhi was smooth as silk with a strong taste of mustard, while lagan ka mutton was a mite tough but amazed with its heavenly taste of cinnamon and black pepper. Ditto for Mogewala kukkar named after Moga town in Punjab, where the first instant coffee plant of an MNC was established in 1961.
The vegetarian starters were equally scrumptious. Rajma tikka was a little sweet in taste while bhatti da paneer, which is initially roasted in a tandoor and then on a tawa, was spicy. Then came the Punjab Express signature soups – paya shorba and kale chane ka ark.
It was now time for the buffet. We started off with the non-vegetraian dishes – Punjabi machhi curry, tangy in flavour with a strong aftertaste of tomato and ginger; murg Patiyala – made of kaju paste and butter; and Jalandhari mutton seekh in spicy curry form with lots of red chilli flakes and coriander powder.
Though our tummies were almost full, the mesmerising aroma of other dishes was hard to resist. We then delved into traditional Punjabi vegetarian delicacies like Amritsari choley – enveloped in white butter and Indyaki-ground spices – and Amritsari aloo wadi – a spicy curry which is rarely available in city restaurants. Along with these came mixed pulao and Amritsari kulcha sprinkled with coriander leaves and seeds.
The range of desserts was eye-popping. From balushahi to suji aur gud ka halwa, there are seven varieties on offer. Channa payesh was one such that made one crave for more.
So, if you want to satisfy your craving for “tadka marke” dishes, Punjab Express is the place to head for. The festival, which began on Monday, will run till April 26.
Location – Radisson Blu, Paschim Vihar
Timings: 7 p.m.-11 p.m.
Dinner (per head):
Without alcohol – Rs.1,760 (all inclusive)
With unlimited Indian-made alcohol – Rs.2,350
With unlimited imported alcohol – Rs.3,520