On the 17th of this month, I was cordially invited to the anniversary celebration of The Punjab Grill, here in Pune. They turned a year this day and to celebrate the occasion a cocktail evening was hosted with the who’s who of Pune adding to the glamor, tagging press and paparazzi along with them. For no apparent reason, I felt like a star myself.
The terrace set-up for the celebrations was done up magnificently with tall tables and some plush red and black couches making the space look even more chic. Not only was the bar setting apt and attractive the bartender along with the waiters ensured the guests had a good time and that their glasses never stayed empty for long. So as far as service is concerned, Punjab Grill, Pune, has top notch staff at hand.
Since it was a cocktail evening, the entrées were doing their rounds, and frequently too. Each delicacy was plated to perfection, making the presentation truly spectacular.
The Kakori Kebab was delicate and simply melted in my mouth, possessing that perfect blend of flavors which balanced the meaty taste the dish packed away in its small dimensions. The Minced Chicken Cigar Rolls flavored with fennel offered a distinct taste to the palate which was rather refreshing. It’s not easy to cook minced meat to perfection but Chef Gurpreet sure knew his art when he prepared this one.
This and more is what make Punjab Grill, Pune, different from the usual barbeque and North Indian cuisine restaurants. The Chingri Kebab in the form of coin sized tikkis topped with wasabi paste was another treat. It took a while for me to realize that prawns were the key ingredient in this dish, mashed to an elegant finish and capable of tickling the taste buds of even a vegetarian, if they’re into ‘branching out’.
The Parmesan Tokri Chaat is quite the innovative dish they have going for them. The fragrance of it (especially the parmesan scent) filled our senses the moment Umesh and I picked it up. The filling was tangy, sweetened with chutney and the sprouts and raw mango and was cooked to be eaten by royalty. This is not something you can enjoy at your regular chaat joints.
The Pancho Crusted Pakora which essentially has small green chillies wonderfully stuffed with spicy potatoes and served with a sweet tangy dip was yet another fall-in-love dish for me. The crisp crust unveiled the soft chilli in all its tasty delight.
Also served were Burnt Garlic Chicken Tikka and Sesame Crusted Paneer Tikka. That latter choice is passably good, though its presentation in shot glasses with tangy mint chutney was rather appealing.
Post cocktails, they arranged a special table for us to continue with dinner. We started with the Badami Murg Shorba which wasn’t impressive enough to write home about, but had its moments. The Lassi, however, was one of the best I’ve ever had. I prefer only a dash of sugar in my desserts and hence the Lassi appeased my taste buds the most.
For the main course we ordered the Paneer Lababdar, Meat Punjab Grill, Garlic Naan and Chicken Dum ki Biryani. The meal did take a while to arrive but it was definitely worth the wait. We could smell the garlic in the Naan from a distance and that was a salivating moment in itself. The Naan was soft and loaded with butter.
Umesh is a fan of dishes that have Paneer in them and he loved the Paneer Lababdaar. It contained a mild flavor of caramelized onions and light spices to impart that singular soft melt-in-your-mouth taste. The lamb had a nice thyme flavor, coriander and peppercorns included, but wasn’t very spicy, which I’d have much preferred to see going in this dish.
The best part was the food wasn’t oily at all. Most north Indian restaurants have their food coming out as if they were soaked in oil and that’s such a put off. Punjab Grill, Pune, on the other hand, satiated that concern for me, putting health first. Amit Burman, CEO and Mr. Rohit Aggarwal, Executive Director and co-founder, who were also present at this event, happen to promote Lite Bite Foods, which among other things focuses on making food healthy.
Heading back to our gourmet dining experience at the Punjab Grill, Pune, the Dum Biryani was superbly aromatic and ideally moist. I found myself, at one instance, pronouncing it as ‘Best Biryani’ without second thought. Suffice to say the next time I want to have a plate of lip-smackingly good Biryani, I know I can head to Punjab Grill.
When it came time for dessert, we ordered their signature Gulab Jamun Trio and Lychee ki Tehri. The trio had one Gulab filled with chocolate, the other with nutella and third with cardamom. A little sweet for my taste buds but I’m certain it will come across soft as a dollop of butter for people with a sweeter sweet-tooth. The Lychee ki Tehri is essentially simmered and reduced milk garnished with lychee and almonds, making for a delicious slurp. Last but not least was the pan shots made from a special Calcutta pan, acting as the ideal mouth freshener.
The Punjab Grill, Pune, specializes in Muslim, Sikh, Hindu as well as Pathan cuisines or the undivided Punjab cuisines, meaning you have a wonderful range of culinary styles to choose from and some of the best chefs around preparing them. Umesh and I personally experienced this here at the Punjab Grill.
Add some ancient royal influences where cooking and style are concerned, an amazing staff and great managers and what you have is a restaurant that will take your breath away while serving you some of the best Indian cuisine this side of the globe.
All in all Punjab Grill, Pune, made for a beautifully memorable evening, a gastronomical delight and a health-conscious restaurant worth going to again and again. I’m certain Umesh or I, or both of us, will return soon, hungry for more.