Food events On Invitation

Punjab Da Jashn - The Leela Palace

Tuesday, May 14, 2013Me! In words

Jamavar has been one of the all time favorites when it comes to Indian food. Especially when you have had the pleasure of having Chef Farman Ali sitting at your table talking about food, you get sucked into a world of spices, tastes, cooking styles, making each morsel you put in your mouth an added pleasure. I have been to the Delhi Food Festival and the Kathiawar Festival held at Jamavar under the watchful eyes of Chef Farman Ali a few years ago and when I saw his name at the helm of affairs for the Punjabi Festival media preview lunch, I did not have to think twice. 

The restaurant does 4 festivals a year - 2 dedicated to the delights of North India and two more exclusively for the south. Naturally, Chef Farman Ali's expertise lies in the north. Punjab Da Jashn is a festival that began on the 13th and goes on till the 26th of May for dinner each night. The menu is vast if you plan to go the a la carte way or if the choice gets too much for you, the set menus should do the job. You have a choice of menus here as well with 3 starters, 4 main courses, rotis, rice, 3 desserts including fruit. The a la carte menu stands at approximately Rs 5000 for two plus taxes. The set menus are priced between Rs 3000 and Rs 4500 plus taxes depending on your choice. 

We were served a range of dishes from the menu that afternoon. Picture review from here... 

Ambi Panna - this is a raw mango drink, salted, slightly thick to sip in, but very pleasing when served cold

The relishes on the table - starting from the top clockwise - raw papaya relish, Mango pickle, Radish pickle and I am not too sure. The raw papaya relish was brilliant, the candied slivers fine and transparent. The radish pickle is on the stronger side and gives you a solid hit in the mouth. 

Kukkad Tawe Da - When the starters were served, us non-veggies initially mistook this to be fish, considering how the chicken had been sliced. These slices were marinated in a whole set of spices, let to sit a while and then finished on a griddle. The chicken was tender, despite being from the fibrous parts of the bird. The masalas had seeped in well giving it a brilliant taste. 

Barra Kebab - There is nothing to beat a home made garam masala mix. Add that to lamb shanks and let it marinate a while with mustard oil and you have the most amazing kebab finished in the tandoor. 

Macchi Amritsari - a specialty of the region, this was a ajwain or coram infused batter fried fish. The coating was thin enough to be crispy and the fish tender and flaky. Lovely with a squeeze of lime. 

Palak Di Tikki - If you are a vegetarian, this is the starter for you. In fact, for us meat eaters too, it could well have been starter, main course and dessert all rolled in one. This is a spinach, corn tikki, topped off with a heavenly roasted tomato chutney. While it still amazes me how the whole kernels of corn remain bound in a spinach tikki. It is the tomato chutney on top that elevates this dish to the next level. 

Ganda Di Bhaji - Onion Pakoras with gram flour and some spices

Paneer Tikka Jalandhari - A classic, red chilli yogurt marination placed in the tandoor and finished with a squeeze of lime. 

Maa Ki Dal - this is an integral part of a meal like this. Served in a little bucket of sorts, the maa ki daal was creamy, but for me somehow was not on par with the dal served at Jamavar on earlier occasions. I found the tomato to be a predominant flavor in this one. Nevertheless it still was a good dal. 

Kukkad Sarson Da - Chicken with a mustard leaves base for a gravy. This was a nice preparation, not too strong a taste of mustard, but subtle enough to allow the flavor to come through. Again the chicken was cooked nice and tender without being chewy

Mutton Rarra - A mutton dish served over kheema. A dish that looked great in terms of presentation and the tenderness of the meat. But the flavor of the dish paled in comparison to the other dishes served. Perhaps a stronger tone of chilli for the kheema and perhaps a fine mincing too would have helped.

Macchi Masaleydar - Fish with a blend of coriander and turmeric in the marination. Spicy!

Dhaniya Aloo Wadi - Is part of the vegetarian spread we were served as are the two dishes below. The Sarson da Saag got the loudest mention

Gobi Mutter Chatpati

Sarson da Saag

Pinni Nabha Di, Badam Te Gurh da Halwa, Malai Pista Kulfi with Phirni - and what meal can be complete without some heavy duty sweets. Eyes closed - the kulfi on phirni was my favorite with the Badam-Jaggery halwa in the little biscuit cup close on its heels. The texture of the halwa is grainy with every bite being a ghee explosion, but taste wise two thumbs up.

Some of the other dishes that caught my eye on the elaborate menu were the - Thandai, Champaan Ludhiana, a lamb dish tenderized with papaya and marinated in yogurt and spices, the Raan E Ranjit, the Gajrela or carrot halwa and the Aam Kulfi since Chef places an emphasis on seasonal produce.

Punjab Da Jashn is currently on at the Leela Palace on Old Airport Road and goes on till the 26th of May for dinner each night. 

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