If you have a tongue for Indian cuisines then by default you’d be nurturing a dream to savor Jiggs Kalra’s preparations some day in life. Blessed to be a food journalist, my day wasn’t that late to arrive. Thanks to my dear friend Sonali Priy Kapoor, in came an invite for the tasting session at Made in Punjab, Cyber Hub, Gurgaon. I took liberty of taking along another food aficionado friend Pradeep Yadav from Zee Business for the evening as the best of food tastes better only in good company.
Over to Punjab
The journey to the flavors of the land of five rivers (Punjab) started with a backwards runway from Mathura with a hint of the destiny – Punjab. An unexpected shot of Lassi laced with Mathura Peda greeted us. The twist is good to try but don’t expect it to be anything close to the authentic Dhaba style Punjabi lassi. Lassi shots (probably customized for us) thankfully left good gut space in us for the trail in waiting. Having a look at the actual glass made me thinking how anybody could eat anything at all after having a glassful of so thick lassi in that. But then Punjabis are Punjabis. Their depth can’t be gauged.
From the Chaats on menu we tried Palak Patta Chaat and that was like a stop-over in Chandli Chowk on way to Punjab. Crisp flakes of spinach in a delicious blend of sweet-n-spicy chatni (fresh sauces) topped with yoghurt and generous sprinkling of nameless spices that even the memory of its plate will keep anyone drooling forever.
Star On The Plate
Star of the starters was yet to arrive. And that was none other than Tandoor Guchchi. If you’ve never tasted it I bet you’ve never tasted anything close to it. It is something that at least I can’t describe in words and phrases. At the most I would say “Something truly heavenly…”
Tandoori Guchchi is quite like a morel. It’s prepared with a particular variety of mushroom that grows at about 9,000 feet in Himchal Pradesh and is probably the most expensive one. Stuffed with cheese, dry fruits and khoya (milk cake) with a coating of yogurt it is cooked in a clay oven. It’s actually an exotic from India via diary of Jiggs Kalra. A dare to miss dish.
Another starter for vegetarians is Beetroot Di Tikki that’s not so pertinent to try.
Tandoori Chaamp is another superstar from Made In Punjab’s menu. True Punjabi food lover isn’t advised to ignore it. And as soon as you try it you start falling in love with it. Cooked to the core, spices and juices well penetrated deep down its every fibre. Even the crunchy bones taste wonderful.
Awadhi Mughlai has had been sitting high on my list of favorites but Made In Punjab well persuaded me to convert. Now am left in dilemma. Giving my drift another push came in Galouti Kebab. Awesome with a crispy paratha slice it was so smooth. Melting in the mouth it left behind a blissful blast of flavors to last for some time and memories forever.
Salmon Tikka is another great effort from the chef of Made In Punjab. Fish lovers will find it in a very different and Punjabi avatar.
Talking of Dal ‘Made in Punjab’ or Mutton ‘Made In Punjab’ no scope has been left to find anything amiss. The long list of delicious and even more delicious breads completes the main course with utter perfection.
eCrispy Jalebi with Rabri was yet another pleasant surprise. You naturally don’t expect this kind painstaking efforts put in by restaurants only to complete the menu with so authentic North Indian dessert. Jalebis were fine, crisp and accompanied by yummiest of rabri I’ve had in long time.
Acting a tough examiner I threw a final challenge. Asked them to bring in their Dum Biryani. Guess what! I was left speechless. This is what they call delicacy to its perfection. Awesome flavors, well cooked chicken, so finely penetrated with and preserving the juices, the spices, the aroma. A must, must try.
Not finding the iconic dhaba cot, antique furniture and utensils all around in the decoration may initially confuse you if this is the right place to try for a truly Punjabi experience. But then with the very first bite you realize that Punjab is not only about the villages and farms and dhabas. There is so much of Royal Punjab left unexplored and that’s exactly what’s being cooked and served at Made In Punjab.
Punjabiness In The Air
As the evening grows Punjabiness starts flowing in the air. The sumptuous and authentic food being served on every other table and the exhaustive list of hard & soft drinks to order from is blowing it far and further. Big fat Punjabi families seem to reach early only to grab hold of the huge stone-top tables that can accommodate each one of them.
For singles, couples and smaller groups there are well-cordoned sitting space that gives you the required privacy while not completely blocking the glimpse of Punjabi party happening all around. There is something mysterious about this place (or maybe in food). After some time you start feeling as if it isn’t a restaurant but a big family party where everybody around is a close friend or relative and they are all here to reunite and have a blast.
Made In Punjab is an Indian Smart-Casual dining restaurant chain founded by Jiggs Kalra known as the ‘Czar of Indian Cuisine’ & ‘Tastemaker to the Nation’. With an experience of over 40 years of promoting and setting benchmarks on Indian Cuisine under his sleeves Jiggs Kalra is an internationally acclaimed food columnist, culinary writer and food consultant. His legacy is being taken forward by his son Zorawar Kalra who is taking care of and expanding MIP. An MBA from Boston’s Bentley Business University Zoravar ostensibly studied the global food & beverage market with a key focus on the Indian Sub-continent.
The Chef of Made In Punjab at Cyber Hub, Gurgaon is Zahir Khan. Hailing from a family of Chef’s and Khaansamaa’s, chef Zahir started his professional journey at a tender age of 18 years and assisted some of the well known chefs in Delhi where he grasped the fine nuances of Indian cooking.