All of us have that dilemma in life while making food choices.gg When we go out to eat, we want homely food, Ghar Jaisa Khaana. When we cook at home, we want the outcome to match the exotic look and taste of a restaurant. It should be almost mandatory for our guests to ask, “Kaunse Restaurant Se Mangvaya Hai”? And when we drive down for long road trips, we have our own set highway Dhabas for they serve the food which is basic, flavourful with an attempted effort to look exotic by adding a dash of Cream or Butter or grated Paneer or Khoya.
To support the above, let me give you examples. I have visited Kanpur, a relatively small city in Uttar Pradesh, quite a number of times. After about couple of visits, we identified a small hotel called Little Chef in the Civil Lines area. First we went there to have our dinner because it served very homely food. I still remember the taste of it’s Peeli Daal and Methi Aloo. After that, we not only ate there but started living there on each visit to that city. Similarly, when I cook at home, I would add a twist to the basic recipe to make it exotic to enhance not only the flavours but also the looks (pictures should come out nicely for publishing). And then, the third angle of Dhaba. Yes, I have my favorites when I drive down like, Gulshan Dhaba, Murthal, Jhilmil Dhaba, Karnal, Prince Highway Dhaba, Behror and Bhajan Tadka, Gajraula and many others for their Tandoori Paranthas with Dahi and white butter, rustic Omellets, Bread Pakoras, Cutting Chai etc.
What if you get all the three experiences at one place ? I had one such experience early this week and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought, I must share.
A day before Diwali, festivities were in the air and it was lunch time. Manmohan and Sanjay Malhotra, both fond of Mutton Curry, had expressed their desire in the morning to have a good Mutton lunch. So, after considering few options at hand and the limited time, I prevailed upon and decided to go to Ambasari Chowk, Baani Square, Gurgaon (my attempt always is to try new places).
As the name suggests (Ambarsar is what Amritsar is called in the local dilect) the place is a casual dining restaurant, serving North Indian food, in an upmarket place. An air conditioned restaurant has basic interiors to give it a look of a local roadside Dhaba or a restaurant in Punjab. The wooden furniture is basic and rustic. The walls adore Punjabi Style decoratives including posters in Punjabi, Walking or Dancing Sticks, handheld Fans and Kites. The utensils in which the food is served are of steel which you normally get in a Dhaba. The waiters are dressed as they normally do in a restaurantised Dhaba, a typical Punjabi outfits. Since we were really hungry and were hard pressed for time, we asked as to what could we get quickly. The server told us that any dish we order will take minimum fifteen minutes. So, we ordered for Ambarsari Mutton, Chicken Kali Mirch, Garlic Naan And Tandoori Roti.
Next fifteen minutes or so were the longest. However, towards the end of that wait, came in Chaat Masala sprinkled sliced onions and Green Chutney which kept us busy for a while. The food came and the looks conquered our fancy. A great aroma of roasted meat with masala was coming out of the dark color Ambarsari Mutton garnished with fresh coriander leaves. The off white color Kali Mirch Chicken was exotic in the looks and gave out an aroma of black pepper. The fresh Tandoori Roti smelt of tandoor and the Garlic Naan justified its name to the full.
With a customary precision, all three of us served Mutton first in our plates. The gravy was sort of a thickened masala and the Mutton pieces were reasonable large. The gravy was exactly what a typical North Indian would make in his home when Mutton is prepared. It had chopped onions and tomatoes as both were distinctly visible perfectly blended with the basic spices. A spoonful in your mouth told you it was simply amazing, flavourful and exactly Ghar Ka Mutton Masala types. It had all the flavours of our very own kitchen, the soft onions and tomatoes provide that body to the whole taste and there was a mild after taste of cinnamon. The chillies, obviously, were dominant but not over powering the taste. Meat was on the bones but came out easily. It was soft and succulent. It was pinkish inside and very flavourful. The best part was that the dish was not floating in oil. In fact it had the right amount of oil in it to provide that smoothness and the glaze to the dish.
Next was the turn for tasting that white beauty, Chicken Kali Mirch. The rich off white creamy gravy doted with crushed black pepper was a delight to look at. While serving, it was observed that the chicken pieces were reasonably large like you get the size in local restaurants or a Dhaba in Punjab. A spoonful of gravy on your palate told you it was a class in itself. It was creamy, buttery, nutty, delicately flavoured with spices and the black pepper was not over powering the taste. In fact, the black pepper blended perfectly into the taste and provided a lift to the flavours. The chicken piece was flavourful too. The meat was on the bones and yet was tender, pinkish and juicy inside. The flavours of the gravy had seeped inside the meat giving a complete experience in itself. The dish didn’t have any extra oil visible on the surface or otherwise.
Both the dishes went very well with the fresh Roti and the Garlic Naan. Rotis was aromatically fresh while the Naan was soft, with garlic in abundance which went too well with Mutton and Chicken. One could have a few morsels of these two without even any gravy. They tasted too good. And, even after finishing the breads, we were relishing the gravies with spoonfuls of both the dishes, one after the another.
It is rare to get an experience of Ghar Ka Khana, Exotic Restaurant Food and a Dhaba treat in one go. I had a similar one earlier this year where I had a Shaadi Food Experience at Band Baaja Baaraat and blogged about it. You would have had similar experiences too. Share it if you like.
Bon Appetite !!