Eating Out Park Plaza brings you the hearty Punjabi flavours at its ongoing food festival

A wall portrait of the Golden Temple in all its splendour greets you at the entrance. Cheerful waiters in colourful pyjama-kurtas wait on you with flavourful lassi, chaats and the quintessential Punjabi parathas. As you walk past a chaarpai and a prop of a draw well, bhangra music fills your ears and a vibrant dhaba comes alive at 24/7 Bytes restaurant at Park Plaza.

Chef Nanjappa Babu, executive sous chef, says his team of eight cooks who bring the Punjabi Food Festival to Coimbatore are from Uttarakhand. He adds how they have all sent a day’s salary to the flood affected.

About the Punjabi food festival, he says, “We want to offer original Punjabi flavours to our diners. The cooks have themselves roasted and ground the masalas for the marination of the kebabs and for the sabzis.”

Saag saga

While missi roti, makki di roti and sarson de saag are a constant, the soups, parathas, sabzis, tandoor and desserts change every day. Today, it is dal dhaniya shorba (moong lentil soup) that is light, non-greasy and packed with coriander flavour.

I scoop up the sarson da saag with a piece of missi roti and it is delicious. It gets better with makki di roti (made from maize flour). Sarson da saag is made from mustard leaves and spices, and is a must-have at this festival.

Don’t miss the barwaan aloo. Potatoes are sliced into two, the insides are scooped out while the outer layer is marinated, cooked in tandoor and then stuffed with vegetables and mushrooms. Dip it in mint chutney and enjoy as a starter.

The non-vegetarian diners love their mutton shammi kebab, murgh chatka kebab and the Amritsari sheek kebab. They also relish the tandoor chicken that arrives coated with chatpata masala.

“At the tandoor, we also have raan or leg of lamb kebab which is marinated a day before and simmered on the tandoor for over two hours. It retains the juices, adds a beautiful colour to the kebab and the meat is melt-in-the mouth,” explains the chef.

Amazing accompaniment

I sample hot paneer parathas with the Punjabi kadi (besan dumplings floating in a curd based gravy), and pind chole made with black channa and aloo. The chole is a Punjabi favourite. It is cooked with a dash of tea decoction for that special flavour and colour. Bhutte ki sabzi has corn kernels tossed in thick tomato gravy. Paneer kash is rich and creamy. Paneer slices are simmered in plain cashew gravy on slow fire. There is malai and a sprinkling of cardamom. It is a royal dish.

Among desserts, phirnee, the chilled creamy rice-based dessert served in a matka (with musk melon slices) steals the show. Also vying for attention is falooda a yummy drink made with milk, a hint of refreshing rose flavour and healthy basil seeds, shakkarkandi (boiled sweet potato slices dipped in sugar syrup), hot jalebis….

To round off the Punjabi experience I drink rich creamy lassi in one shot and float home.

The Punjabi food festival is on till July 7. Punjabi fare is offered as a part of the dinner buffet along with South Indian, Continental and Chinese menu. The buffet is priced at Rs. 777 for adults and Rs. 399 for children. For reservations, call: 0422- 4523030 / 2626030.