After years of flirting with faux Asian restaurants and synthetic American chain restaurants here, I finally had a really good restaurant meal in Gurgaon.
In retrospect, my dinner at Gurgaon’s Sector 29’s Pind Balluchi was destined to be good right from the start. I mean how wrong could one get old school Punjabi fare in this part of the country? I doubt whether I would have have a repeat of the lows of the rubbery soy sauce doused pork belly yakitori or Kashmiri chilli powder infused pad Thai that I had recently had in a popular Asian restaurant here. Plus there was the fact that Anurag Mehrotra has recommended Pind Baluchi to me. The same Anurag who last here shown me the wonders of Delhi 6 and of Nizamuddin. He used to live in Gurgaon till very recently.
I headed to Pind Balluchi in Sector 16 trusting Anurag blindly earlier tonight. With me were my brother and sister in law.
We walked into the faux dhaba-like ambience of the ground floor. The place fairly packed for a weekday.
We settled down and called for drinks. Mine was a very pleasant made lassi which was not too thick. Nor was it too sweet. Quite well balanced. The other orders on our table was a smoked a pineapple drink an Banta soda or Indian lemonade. They do serve alcohol as well.
I dug out my iPhone and checked Anurag’s facebook message to me. It read: “At Pind Baluchi order fish Amritsari, garlic/butter naan and tandoori chicken. If you are a few folks throw in a dal and meat curry.”
Life had taught me to trust Anurag blindly when it came to food and that’s what I did when I ordered this evening.
Our first order of Amritsari fish was a resounding hit. Thin and tender fillets of fish deep fried in a paprika infused gram flour batter. A very flavourful example of what the British batter fried fish of fish and chips fame could aspire to be in terms of astounding flavours and great textures.
We ordered half a tandoori chicken. Again very tender. Possibly because they used a small bird. There was a sheen to the surface of the chicken. A sheen which reminded me of the tandoori chicken I had had in Ludhiana once. The sheen is because of a glaze of chilli, salt, pepper and masala infused oil that they dab onto the the chicken after they take it out of the tandoor I was told. This was apparently required as the bird would dry up while getting roasted in the tandoor. The tandoori chicken in Khaane Khaas in Bandra, in contrast, doesn’t have this glaze. This chicken was slightly hotter too than the ones has had In Mumbai. It had a distinct ground green chilli kick in it.
The ma ki daal or kaali daal was delightfully dreamy and made you swoon with its creaminess. Extremely rich and yet pleasantly soothing. A feel good dish if there ever was one. The daal is put together the night before it is served. It is kept on top of a warm tandoor all night and left to simmer. It is then spiced up the morning it is served.
We had the daal and chicken with some hot freshly made tandoori rotis and garlic naans. The curries did look interesting I would probably try them on another visit. Specially the dhaaba mutton.
My knowledge on the tandoori chicken and daal’s cooking process is thanks to the manager Mr Tega Singh. A thin ramrod straight gentleman with a soldier’s posture warmly answered my questions on the dishes in Hindi and then very kindly got us piping hot gulab jamuns on the house for dessert. He also told me that the original branch of Pind Balluchi is at Hauz Khas and is apparently 16 years or so old. This particular branch in sector 29 Gurgaon is about 5 years or so old if I heard him right.
What this meal taught me is that just as one would never order tandoori chicken in Bangkok, one should think twice before ordering Siamese double cooked pork in Gurgaon.
I might though sing a different tune after I finally eat at Gung, the much lauded Korean restaurant here.
Well, I am not one to grudge life the odd pleasant surprise.