Sunday, March 21, 2010

Veggie Nook:Punjabi Rasoi

The taste of Punjab

  ·      ·  

A Punjabi thaali. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
The Hindu A Punjabi thaali. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

VEGGIE NOOK—Gachibowli
Huge lettering proclaiming ‘Punjabi Rasoi' at Gachibowli cross roads invites you to try out its taste. Punjabi Rasoi has two restaurants: the vegetarian and the non-vegetarian. The vegetarian one is on the ground floor. As you step in, the ambience is not too inviting. A 50-seater, the place seems a bit confining. A few window ACs take care of the cooling inside. Past 2 p.m., the crowd thickens and there are quite a handful of people waiting to be seated.
The menu consists of North Indian fare with the usual Chinese thrown in. There is a strong Punjabi flavour in all the dishes. Care is taken to avoid overt use of oil and spices. It is a relief to find mildly spiced food. What's perhaps a unique preparation amongst the starters is the paneer-baby corn lollipop. The baby corn is swathed at its broader end with paneer to which garlic-ginger and coriander is added. This preparation is then coated with corn flour and deep fried. Despite being deep-fried, it is surprising to find that the preparation is not oily. You get six such pieces per dish.
Another starter is the sheekh kabab priced at Rs. 115: a preparation of whole wheat flour mixed with paneer, bits of carrot, shreds of cabbage, garlic, bits of cashew, coriander and onion rolled in bread crumbs and skewered. It comes with 8 pieces per plate and is served with mint chutney.
The biryani is awesome in taste. The very long and thin rice grains are perhaps specially chosen to enhance the flavours of the spices. Mildly flavoured and prepared with very little oil, the biryani is accompanied with raita of cucumber, onion and tomato.
Try out the Amritsari naan here. The naan is soft and stuffed with grated paneer, thinly chopped vegetables and studded with paneer and cherry bits. Order for the lassi to enjoy the authentic Punjabi flavour. It is very thick and topped with crushed dry fruits, and slightly sweetened.
One cannot come away from a Punjabi Rasoi without tasting the indispensable ‘makai-ki-roti and sarso-ka-saag'. The makai ki roti is made out of dough of corn meal and whole wheat flour. It contains a few shreds of radish as well and served hot with little oil. The sarso ka saag is a preparation of mustard leaves, mixed with bit of spinach, and cooked with onion tomato, garlic and tomatoes, and also cooked in very little oil.
There are also mocktails on offer which run contrary to the prevalent Punjabi flavor in the menu.
Punjabi Rasoi finds many takers for its thaali priced at Rs. 65 for an ordinary thaali and Rs. 105 for the special one.
The busiest times are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and one needs to wait quite a bit before being seated. However, ample servings and the taste of the food make it worth the wait. Home delivery is done for a radius of 5km with a minimum order of Rs. 300.
A meal for two comes to around Rs. 300.The restaurant runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Ample parking space is earmarked for the restaurant.
Punjabi Rasoi
Located at Gachibowli cross roads.
Pluses: Value for money
Minuses: Crowds
Food: 4/5
Ambience: 2/5

This article was published HERE.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Veggie Nook: Santosh Castle

Santosh Castle in Abids, started quite recently on the 20th February is a pleasure to dine in. The subtly-lit interiors with instrumental music playing in the background, well-spaced tables and chairs, impeccable washrooms—all these add to the mood. The 80 seater air-conditioned restaurant situated on the first floor above Santosh Dhaba, caters to pure vegetarian fare.
The thickly-bound menu overwhelms you with the copiousness of pages to go through. Every section of food contains many selections and narrowing your choice is a tough challenge. The soups range from Rs 50 to 70 and have about 18 in all to select from. The appetizers, a total of 32 in number, vary from Rs. 80-120.
Amongst the starters, Paneer Majestic priced at Rs. 110 is a dry preparation of thin 2” long paneer sticks. This is lightly coated with maida and corn flour and deep-fried. This is tossed with sesame and cumin, curry leaves, thinly sliced fried onion, dry chillies, green chillies and some white pepper. It is a relatively oil-free preparation and the added ingredients add to its delectibitly.
Another entrée Paneer Malai Tikka priced at Rs.120 is quite delectable too. Plain one-inch square paneer pieces smeared with gram flour are pierced along with thin onion and tomato pieces and barbequed. The Malai Tikka derives its name from the paste of ginger- garlic and fresh cream that is alternately layered with the paneer, onion and tomato pieces. Once barbequed, the stacks are sautéed with cashew powder, green chili paste, pepper powder and cardamom powder. What also make these paneer preparations special is the fact that all paneer used is very soft and freshly-prepared.
The curries again offer a mind boggling selection of 70 curries. Amongst the curries, Dum Aloo priced at Rs.90 consists of large potato pieces deep-fried and mixed with a gravy of onion paste to which these condiments are added: red chilli powder, cumin powder, paste of ginger-garlic, cashew, sesame, watermelon seeds, chironji, poppy seeds and crushed coconut. Kajal Kofta a specialty claimed by Santosh consists of koftas prepared with boiled carrot, beans, potato, which are bound with corn flour and deep-fried. These are served with a gravy similar to Dum Aloo to which copious amount of fried cashew is added.
Another curry Haveli Paneer has the condiments of cashew, watermelon seeds, chironji, garlic- ginger paste and red chili powder added to tomato-onion based white gravy. This is quite delectable too.
16 varieties of Indian breads priced between Rs.10 to 40 are on offer. Some special ones are mentioned below: Garlic Nan, at Rs. 30 is the usual nan but with tiny garlic flecks which lend it a pungent taste. Baby Nan, another specialty is smeared with butter, grated paneer and grated carrots. Chatpata Nan is probably unique to this restaurant. It consist of nan covered with grated paneer, chilli powder and chat masala. This has a crunchy feel as you bite through. Stuffed kulcha at Rs.40 is something you find in any other restaurant and is stuffed with boiled potatoes, carrot and beans. Yet, what lends a unique taste to this preparation is the way it is thinly rolled out and is studded with plenty of cashews.
Amongst the 19 varities of rice, Shahi biryani stands out.

Pluses: All food is tasty
Minuses: Food is smothered in oil
Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3.5/5
Located in the lane to the right of Big Bazaar, Abids