The restaurant's extravagance is reflected not just in its ambience but also in its traditional flavours

When Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge released more than a decade ago, Punjab was all about ‘sarson ke khet', and tall and loud uncles guzzling down lassi with single-minded determination.

Punjabi Times, on Bannerghatta Road, debunks these clichés by steering clear of the ‘dhaba' ambience and making plush interiors, ethnic copperware and aesthetic lighting an accompaniment to Punjabi cuisine.

Launched six years ago, as a small sweet shop by the late Vijay Bathija, it has grown tremendously since its humble beginning.

Crisp and crackling

As I entered, I was welcomed by little statuettes of Punjabi dancers. Surprised by the substantive choice in the vegetarian section of the menu, I started with a thick and creamy glass of refreshing lassi.

The starters, aloo makkai sev tikki and paneer soti boti further kindled my appetite.

The aloo tikki, with a crisp coating of sev and a soft filling of mashed potato and corn, melts in the mouth and the paneer tikki, crisp after being fried in a thick batter, was served on toothpicks.

In the main course, the crisp crackling tawa jheenge (prawns) marinated to perfection, beat the fish tikka hands down.

Much-loved staples

How could a Punjabi meal be complete without sarson da saag and makkai roti? The creamy saag with the roti and jaggery will leave you craving for more. The best part of the affair was the butter indulgently served in a separate bowl.

One cannot miss the parathas, particularly the aloo paratha which is served delightfully on the tawa. The much-loved staple, dal makhni, however, paled in comparison to the other dishes. Among the non-vegetarian dishes, though most would prefer butter chicken, the Nalli Gosht (mutton) is definitely worth a try. The meat is tender and the gravy flavoured with traditional Punjabi garam masala.

With the kitchen being managed by Harpreet Kaur, (wife of late Mr. Bathija) the food still retains homely flavours, at the same time incorporating innovative dishes. The paan surprise, which is a paan-flavoured ice-cream, did surprise me. I had my first spoon with a tinge of apprehension but soon realised that it was mint ice-cream with a hint of paan.

Managing the front office is her son, Angad. “My father said that making good food every day was the key and that is what we try to achieve,” he says. With a buffet costing Rs. 325, the restaurant largely draws crowds from the many companies in the vicinity on weekdays. On the weekends though, it is teeming with families. Radha Kadiyala, a regular, says that she mainly comes for the phulkas. “They are nice and soft.” While Jai Ram, a first-timer, though content with the food, was not too happy with the pricing. “I liked the food and ambience, but the bill wasn't that appealing,” he said.

Although a little heavy on the pocket, Punjabi Times is the place to head if you want authentic Punjabi food minus the noise and clutter of a dhaba.