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Tandoori nights

Utsav Restaurant is playing host to a 21-day Punjabi food festival

UTSAV'S ROBUST rendition of a Punjabi Food Festival is an act of kindness in this season. A sharp chill in the air and a Punjabi chilly to beat that, the situation is a delight. A Patiala is an index that Punjabis are great eaters as much as they are hosts - like in dhabas the owner is bothered if one refuses to spend some time after food in his place. In Utsav (tel: 6263646) the promoters explain guests the little details that go into a great Lassi such as keeping Patiala glasses chilled, squeezing fresh citrus to order, and always using fresh ice.

The variety is compact and as crisp as the slate on which the menu is scribbled, so one takes lesser than usual time to order. Adding to the Punjabi touch are the typically attired attenders, lanterns and a few voices in the backdrop who render Punjabi numbers.

Punjabis eat rice very infrequently and only on special occasions. At Utsav too, the highlight is roti and paratha. The steaming hot Makki ki roti, Aloo paratha, Gobi/Mutter/Paneer paratha is bound to make anyone's mouth water with desire.

As is typical of Punjabi meals, the indiscriminate use of onion, tomatoes, turmeric, mustard, and garlic cooked in pure cow ghee is out-and-out felt in the spread that consists of Pindi chole, Sarson da saag, Baigan bharta, Kadhi pakoda, Bodde di aloo and Mah ki dal. Each is better than the other, so the best in the lot is a tough choice.

However, the classical Sarson da saag and Baigan bharta are dishes that one would like to die for and tuck in as it were nobody's business. They sure transcend one to the fertile and breezy land of five rivers that is Punjab.

Milk is an indispensable element of Punju food and manifests itself in many forms, such as yogurt (dahi), lassi, paneer, makhan (white butter) and ghee.

The live counter that stirred Jalebis with rabdi was one huge draw. Gajar Halwa was one more gourmet's delight with its melt-in-the-mouth properties. It reinforced the gastronomic dictum - `Sweet is life'.

Before one could blink twice, people from all over the neighbourhood were lined up waiting to get in. The tandoor during winter is one irresistible draw.


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