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Delight in the `dhaba'

The `Dhaba' Festival at Kebab-e-Bahar, Taj Banjara, which is on till April 21, promises lip-smacking Punjabi food in the ambience of a `dhaba'.

The tandoor is kept quite busy.

SHER SINGH da Dhaba and Banta Singh Halwai are doing business in the heart of the city with sarson da saag and makki ki roti served with a tall glass of rich lassi. If you are wondering where these joints are, trace them to the Dhaba Festival at Taj Banjara's Kebab-e-Bahar on the waterfront. "This is just the right event for the season, as it marks Baisakhi, the harvest festival," says Chef Chaman Lal.

The dhaba tradition has its roots in the Punjab where dhabas provide wholesome food - a combination of gravy dishes like the anda curry and fries such as tandoori chicken served with roti for weary travellers as well as a charpoy for a good slumber under the starry roof. The eateries, found on national highways, remain open throughout the night.

"The Dhaba Festival is one of the popular festivals at the Hotel for several years bringing the dhaba ambience right in the middle of the city," observes Satish Nambiar, General Manager, Taj Banjara. The live counters, kitchen baskets containing onions, strings of lemons and green chillies makes one look for an OK Horn Please signage nearby at Kebab-e-Bahar. The highway milestone, petrol bunks, a grass-laden bullock cart with a filmi poster of One Two ka Four, a few charpoys and lanterns with Daler paaji numbers heightened the dhaba mood.

The one-page menu at Kebab-e-Bahar makes for easy reading. Special dhaba cuisine such as the kheema mutter, gurdakapoora kaleji masala, baingan bharta, sarson ka saag and maa chole ki dal have been chosen for the a la carte dinner offering. Chef Chaman Lal recommends tandoori chicken and paneer tikka for starters, while the paya soup of lamb trotters serves as a rich appetiser. For the main course he suggests aloo wadian - dumplings of urad dal with potatoes, brain masala, kheema mutter and tandoori aloo apart from the traditional sarson da saag made with mustard leaves served with dollop of butter. Makki ki roti, missi roti, paratha, mutter pulao and wadian chawal and the exotic lobia, rajma and chole surely form inviting fare. As for the desserts, malpua, made of maida soaked in sugar syrup, hot jalebi with rabdi and kulfi-faluda bring in the Punjabi flavour full circle. Apart from the liquor and lassi on the menu, one interesting drink is the dhaba chai - milk over boiled with spices, ginger, cardamom and mint leaves to leave that lingering taste of dhaba to round up. "The ten-day fare is a good time for a family outing. Good food. I have tried the rotis and kheema methi. I guess I am going to be here for all the ten days," says film star Prakash Raj. What better way of celebrating good times than indulging in robust cuisine with a touch of passion at the dhaba fest.


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