Punjab, minus the masala
What happens when a Punjabi walks into a restaurant that is backed by popular lineage (Only Parathas) and calls itself Amritsari Tadka? Kanika Sharma encountered the lack of a spicy kick to food from Punjab
Punjab is a region that has left indelible impact on Bollywood. In the glamorous suburbs of Khar and Bandra, where many eateries thrive, the likes of Only Parathas and Mini Punjab continue to exercise a stronghold especially with robust, homely family meals. So, when we heard of another eatery claiming to fit into the same mould, we decided to drop by Amritsari Tadka. Once there, we spotted jovial groups chatter animatedly on a weekday evening.
As a good ol’ Punjabi, the thought of a Patiala had caught our eye; the fact being there was buy-one-get-one free offer on the cocktails. We ordered a Piquant Punch (Rs 300): muddled pineapple infused with crushed pepper shaken with rum. The concoction arrived belatedly and failed to come together either as a tipple or a medley of flavours. Ajwaini Fish Tikka (Rs 430) was our starter preened from the usual suspects of Chicken Seekh and Chicken Tikka.
A little apprehensive, our attendant assured that it might be a good choice. The Fish Tikka in our mouths poured in doubtful flavours that could only be marked as salty. An absolute favourite in northern India, this delicacy is traditionally spiced like a cracker that makes you weak in the knees with the fish’s tenderness. Alas!
Our main course included a Paneer Kali Mirch Masala (Rs 300) and a Murgh Adraki Bhuna Masala (Rs 350). This time around, we had decided to dabble in elements that are not traditionally associated with Amritsari cuisine. This -- for much like a family diner, Amritsari Tadka does offer Chinese, Italian and Continental. So a place named after the holy land of the Golden Temple had additional pressure to put its best foot forward. The Murgh Adraki Bhuna was by far a leap ahead as it was tangily spiced and of course generously oiled.
A great choice, it camouflaged the salt-less Amritsari Pudina Garlic Naan (Rs 180). The paneer dish, again, wasn’t spot on; spice-wise the hit of black pepper missed the happy diner target completely. Having not the heart to leave with a mediocre taste in our mouths, Malai Kulfi Falooda (Rs 200) was pegged on by our server and we placed our bets. Sweet, milky and with thick textures, the kulfi fulfilled us with a satisfying closure. Just that, the Punjabi in our genes couldn’t fathom why the cuisine’s vibrant appeal were discounted with dull flavours.