Punjab di Rasoi proudly celebrates its roots

Flavours of our streets are growing diverse. The latest entrant to the food wagon in Kozhikode is Punjab di Rasoi. The restaurant aims to fill a gap in our foodscape by banking on regional cuisine and veering away from the vigorously non-vegetarian gourmet culture. That way, Punjab di Rasoi is a brave step. It sticks to vegetarian Punjabi yet makes a confident offer. If most menus in the city leash in the vegetarian, here they show vegetarian can be fun. As if to keep their bases covered, the restaurant offers the run-of-the-mill idli, dosa, upma fare, but it is best to stick to their specialty — Punjabi and they won’t disappoint. The interiors are utilitarian. Prints adorn the walls, music is bhangra and there are stray symbols of Punjab. At the restaurant run by Bharat Bhushan Aggarwal and his son Kushal, focus is the food. If it is Punjabi, lassi though clichéd, is still the best way to begin. Special lassi makes it way, decked with pistachio and almond slivers on top. Demure straws can be discarded, for this is for the large-hearted. Shoot it down and then scoop out the balls of malai (cream). It is an all out, rich affair.

The health conscious may get a tad worried by the menu. This is malai and desi ghee territory all the way. The menu boasts an array of chaats and starters. On a rainy day, I give the dahi bhalla, papdi and aloo tikki a miss, and instead go in for the warmth of shorba. I opt for roasted kumbh shorba. Made in mushroom broth with pan-roasted button mushrooms shredded fine, this shorba is heart-warming. If there are oil traces in this bowl, the chef proudly declares it is desi ghee. With just a hint of pepper, this slightly watery shorba, offers refreshing spoonfuls. It is all balance and tiny mushrooms do not come in the way.

Starters make their way. Paneer tikka tiranga, a specialty, arrives. Three slabs of paneer, marinated with malai, mint and roasted red chilli respectively, are tagged together. Malai paneer doesn’t leave too much of an impact, the mint one has more character and so too the chilli one. The paneer, though, could afford to get softer.

Sort out the starters

But dahi ke kabab helps you tide over the disappointment. The coat of bread crumbs is rustling and crunchy and it makes way for soft hung curd, which has just a whiff of the sour. If just hung curd may make it a monotonous affair, there are pomegranate seeds in the kabab to break it. But the star among the starters for me is the judwaa mushroom. Two button mushrooms hold within them a fine spinach paste. The mushrooms are fleshy and supple and mellowed just right by a curd marination. The spinach is full of vigour and ginger, garlic and green chilli make it an engaging affair. Bhutte ka pakoda too lives upto the promise. The corn kabab is crunchy and the chaat masala sprinkled over it allows a play of tastes.

Finally, the main course arrives. The roti tokri boasts ajwaini roti, Amritsari kulcha and others. Giving the breads company are Amritsari masala paneer, pindi chana and bhutta palak masala. The roti, sprinkled with carom seeds, is flaky and light. The Amritsari kulcha too is worth a bite. Stuffed with paneer and potato, it is tender and rich. The surprise among the side dish is butta palak. Baby corn blends well with the thick spinach and there is not a wrong note here. Tea leaves lend the pindi chana the dark brown hue and aamchoor (dried mango) gives it the faint tanginess. The chana is frill free and simple. The masala paneer too is pleasant thickened as it is by cashew gravy.

To round off this wholesome meal is rasmalai and jalebi naal rabri. If one was just looking forward to a sweet and cold affair, then there is more to the rasmalai. The surprise is the paan in it. Slivers of betel leaves in the rasmalai give the dessert a strong after taste. Jalebi and the cold and rich rabri too whip up a nice combo.

Punjab di Rasoi

Near St. Joseph’s Boys H.S.S

Silk Street

Meal for two: Around Rs 200

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