Patrons here are perfectly happy to wait for up to 45 minutes to get inside Bobby’s Punjabi Dhaba
Bobby runs a tight ship. His whip-crack voice, tinged with a Punjabi accent, flogs his staff to run faster, to follow the orders he barks out by the cartload.
This is Jaswant Singh, a.k.a. Bobby, the owner of Bobby’s Punjabi Dhaba, an inconspicuous eatery near Lavanya theatre on St. John’s Road.
What registers first is the sheer amount of people waiting on the steps to the restaurant. They’re all perfectly happy to wait for upto 45 minutes to get inside. All this effort for a simple dhaba? The simplicity, though, is what makes it stand out. Once you walk in, there’s the feel of being outdoors, as if Bangalore is suddenly the Grand Trunk Road.
Bobby, an imposing and dramatic figure, stands next to the kitchen, roaring out orders as they come. He says he was born in Bangalore, but his family hails from Moga in Punjab. The dhaba is a family enterprise, and he’s been in charge for 28 years, ever since it began next to the Ulsoor gurudwara. “We moved to this address four months ago because the place had become too small,” he says.
The dhaba works like a paratha factory. Parathas are inevitably the order of the day — onion, aloo and gobi parathas among them — stout, self-satisfied entities that any paratha worth its salt should aspire to be. Eaten with the shahi paneer or dal makhani, with buttermilk (chaach) on the side, the resulting combination can pack quite a punch. As if in keeping with the character of the place, the food is robust and rich, almost arrogantly heavy. Every bite will be liberally endowed with either ghee or butter and some quantity of chilli, among other spices.
There isn’t much on the menu that tastes sweet; everything is some shade of spicy or spicier, and that taste, combined with the aforementioned ghee, tends to remain on the tongue.
The mildly spiced shahi paneer blends well with, say, an onion paratha (which comes stuffed with enough onion to make a salad), or the aloo paratha, which also goes down well enough on its own. You could simply order a tandoori roti and one of the gravies, but one should at least try a plate of parathas while visiting the dhaba.
Endless streams of such parathas will emerge from the kitchen. “We make 800 parathas on weekdays. Roughly double that on weekends,” he says proudly. “We always run out,” he adds. He’s right: the place is jam-packed. Customers will wait even past 4 p.m., when the dhaba’s lunch session ends, hoping to grab the last of the parathas.
Bobby’s Punjabi Dhaba is well into its 29th year of service in Bangalore, and considering the horde that assembles outside its door, it may well see 29 years more.
A trip is advised if parathas are on your menu, and if you’ve got at least half an hour to kill: the dhaba will make you wait that long, or more, for a table.