Saturday, January 02, 2010

Jiggs Kalra's Punjab Grill

Punjab Grill, Saket New DelhiI remember devouring Jiggs Kalra's foodie columns in the Times of India during the 90s. One of India's most known food columnists and gastronome, his recipes contributed to my growing interest in culinary delights during that time. I recollect being foxed by the term bouquet garni in his recipies and finally figuring out - remember those pre-Google days?!! - what it meant.

Therefore when I found myself in front of Jiggs' own restaurant, Punjab Grill, during a recent trip to New Delhi, I had to drop in and sample the fare. The Punjab Grill I visited is located in Saket within the upscale Select Citywalk Mall. It's sister restaurant is located in Gurgaon's Ambiance Mall.

Punjab Grill in Saket is divided into two different areas: a indoor fine-dining room and an open-air terrace. For lunch, the indoor dining room serves a lunch buffet while the a la carte menu is available on the terrace. We decided to choose the terrace and sample items off the menu.

Punjab Grill, New DelhiI was here with my family. After some deliberation, we decided to order a kabab platter, makke ki roti and sarson da saag along with a portion of their famous daal.

I recall an interview of Jiggs Kalra where he pointed out historical evidence to suggest that kababs may have existed in the Indian subcontinent even before the Persian invaders came here. He cites a treatise written by 12th century Chalukyan ruler Somadeva in which a dish called bhaditraka is described. This dish was made of meat in which spices were stuffed before being roasted on spits.

Punjab Grill, New DelhiA plate of laccha pyaz came in first: finely cut onion rings - or rather spirals that was liberally sprinkled with chaat masala. The kabab platter gave us an early indication of the portions: huge Punjabi-sized! The platter contained Murgh Tikka, Murgh Malai Tikka, Amritsari Machchi and Chaamp Taajdar.

I began with the mildest, the Murgh Malai Tikka - morsels of chicken marinated in yoghurt, cashew-nut paste and cheese before being cooked in a tandoor. The kabab was perfect - aromatic and very tender.

The Murgh Tikka, a house speciality, was made of boned pieces of chicken marinated in royal cumin, fresh cream, cheddar, garlic and a hint of fresh coriander before being glazed in the tandoor. This was a more robust, spicier kabab with the cheese giving it a distinct, soft taste.

Punjab Grill, New DelhiThe Amritsari Machchi were fillets of Singhara fish that had been dipped in ajwain-flavored gram flour and deep-fried in mustard oil. This was probably the one we loved the best. Absolutely done right with a crisp, tasty exterior and a flavorful and soft inside.

Finally, the Chaamp Taajdar which was lamb chops that had been pot-roasted in an infusion of cloves, black cardomom, kasoori methi and basil before being grilled on a tandoor. Ample-sized and very tasty indeed!

Punjab Grill, New DelhiThe waiters were ready with the rest of our food. A large portion of sarson da saag showed up. This popular winter dish from Punjab made with mustard greens cooked in earthern pots with radish leaves, bathua, ginger, gram flour and a dash of mustard oil was absolutely delightful. Not unexpectedly given Jiggs' Punjabi origins. The makke ki roti - breads made of corn flour in the tandoor - that go with this dish were perfectly turned out too. Dollops of home-made butter made the dish heavenly in the nip of the winter morning.

Punjab Grill, New DelhiThe Daal was made of whole urad simmered overnight with a trace of mustard oil and finished with a tomato puree and cream, finally tempered with ghee. Again fantastic in taste and texture. In spite of the portions, there wasn't much left on the plate when we finished our lunch!

Even though we were quite full because of the ample portions, I had to try a dessert. The waiter recommended the kheer. The rice-based kheer in thickened milk was liberally sprinkled with nuts. The kheer was heavenly, the taste of rabdi with aromatic rice, nuts and a hint of kewra.

Punjab Grill, New Delhi
Punjab Grill, New DelhiFor lovers of Punjabi food, I strongly recommend this restaurant if you are anywhere near Saket. For visitors to Delhi, the mall is about 30 minutes from the airport, and home to a multiplex, several upscale branded shopping outlets and restaurants. A good place to kill some time if you have any when visiting this city.

Dear foodie friends, wish you a fun-filled, food-filled New Year! May this be the beginning of a very exciting and successful decade for all of you.


Sandeep Tawde said...

Thanks Shantanu, wish you the same.

Lakshmi said...

happy new year..I missed this place when I was in delhi last year, tho we we were in saket..must make it a point to go

Shantanu said...

@Sandeep: Good to see you here!

@Lakshmi: There are other choices in this mall too. So, a safe destination if you are in Saket.

Nisha said...

Wish you & your family a very Happy new year 2010.

I missed this place when I was in Delhi recently. In fact I had gone to very near to Saket. :(

GMG said...

Hi Shantanu! Happy New Year!!
I'm getting hungry... ;)

Meanwhile Blogtrotter has reached 500 posts on all blogs with some views of «La Petite France, Strasbourg», truly missing your comments! Enjoy and have a first great week in 2010!!!

Unknown said...

Thankyou for the wishes!Wishing you & your family a happy,health and wealthly New year 2010.
May you visit more and more places and keep blogging!

Mahesh Narkar said...

Hi Shantanu,
Looks amazing. Punjab Grill is expected to open up in the upscale Palladium mall (Phoenix Mill Compound) in Mumbai some time soon. So we won't have to travel to Delhi to sample the wares

Wishing you a delectable food filled, and a many blog post new year!!



He is opening the same in Mumbai this week. I had gone there 10 days back but it wasn't opened.

How does it priced ?

the blogger formerly known as sansmerci said...

yummy!!!!! i ve been to ambience mall once or twice and wanted to try this place sometime... u used to write on rite?


Was Jiggs Kalra running the restaurant in New Oberoi at Mumbai ?

Shantanu said...

@All: Thanks for visiting and leaving your comments here.

@Mahesh, Harekrishnaji: Really? Didn't know about that.

@Harekrishnaji: Not sure if he consulted for the Oberoi. He has designed menus for many hotels in the past. I have seen him organize food festivals at the Leela Palace in Bangalore (in Jamavar).

UTTIYA DAS said...

A very good post. After Punjabi By Nature, Punjab Grill is the second best Punjabi restaurant in Delhi.

Shantanu-Da, have you tried Five Rivers in Calcutta serving delicate Punjabi and Kashmiri food (Jiggs Kalra is the food consultant of it).Its very good.

On your next visit to Calcutta, you must eat there- specially, Meat Beliram, Raan Hari Singh Nalwa, Aloobukhara Kofta and Seb Ka Halwa(dessert) in the Punjabi section.

UTTIYA DAS said...

And yes, Jiggs Kalra was behind The Great Kabab Factory at Radisson Delhi & Calcutta, Kandahar at Oberoi Delhi & Bombay and Aangan at Hyatt Delhi (actually, he was a food-consultant and designed the menu at these restaurants)

Anonymous said...

@Uttiya: Thank you for the insights, my friend. And I will keep Five Rivers in mind when I travel next to Kolkata.


Yes. I was talking about Kandahar.

UTTIYA DAS said...

yeah, Jiggs Kalra designed the menu at Kandahar. But sadly, The Oberoi group closed it down at their Delhi property, though not sure about the Bombay one.

Anonymous said...

@Uttiya: Kandahar very much continues to operate at the ITC Grand Maratha in Mumbai.

Rishab said...

Hey Shantanu,

Thanks for sharing your experience. Even I have heard a lot about the Punjab Grill in Mumbai, although not been able to experience it yet.

Plan on going for dinner there sometime this week; will surely share my experience with you once I have been there.

PS - Love the photographs! :D

Unknown said...

I have visited the Punjab Grill many times and as I am aware of Jiggs Kalra capabilites, I was very happy every time I viisted this palce.

Mr Kalra had frist introduced me to Tandoori Salmon and he really knows how to get such things made.

However as with all the restaurants except places like ITC restaurants, over a period of time the quality and servcie detoriates.
This is waht has exactly happened at this restaurant.(Although they have taken much short time to go bad as compared to other small restaurants)
I was in the Shopping mall on 29th July and I ordered some food to be packed. As I am very close to this palce in Navjiwan Vihar, we opened the packets of food within 15 min.
The food was not only bad but was smelling bad as well.I immediately called the restaurant and the lady simply said sorry.
Since the time we tried this latest ordered food ,I am unwell including my daughter.

I , much against my wsihes would never go to this restaurant again.
I have been there at least 15 times but not any more.
Vinod Arora
Mr Kalra should look for a solution to such problems

Shantanu said...

@Rishab: Thank you!

@Vinod: Really? Thanks for sharing here. I guess the restaurant industry is replete with such stories. Only the best manage to deliver consistently.

UTTIYA DAS said...

Kandahar at ITC Grand Maratha????
pardon me, ami toh Kandahar- Oberoi Trident-e dinner korechilam..
ITC has Kebab & Kurries and Peshawari.. they dnt own Kandahar i think

Shantanu said...

@Uttiya: There are two ITC hotels in Mumbai. You are confusing Maratha with Grand Central.

joey said...

Dear Shantanu
I work with print media and am an avid follower of your worldwide eating blog!! would love to feature your blog in our magazine--do let me know if its ok with you. you can look up

Anonymous said...

Makki di roti made in a tandoor ?? I beg to differ.

Shantanu said...

@Anon: Seems like it came out of a tandoor. Maybe not...