My most authentic Punjabi cuisine experience until recently was a 4am “dinner” at a Punjabi Dhaba in Delhi, after a session of night-long party. It is doubtless, a sensational memory of “garma-garam rotis” and butter chicken with cubes of sizzling butter melting on top, consumed in the perfect company of a tipsy husband and tipsier friends. While those are culinary memories that will forever rest on a mantle in my heart, I get to encounter experiences in close competition, thanks to some great restaurants in Dubai.
Punjabi By Nature have interiors that make you envision a jovial Punjabi gentleman, dressed in his turban and sun glasses, urging you to defy your stuffed belly to eat “just-one-more-plate of naan ji!” The walls are covered with posters of grinning sardars and the menu is dotted with typical Punjabi dialogs and slangs that could give you a laugh if you are familiar with the language or have Punjabis for friends.
Our welcome drink was the Chatti Wali Lassi Pede De Naal, which was essentially a sweet yogurt based shake with a hint of saffron. Served in a very small glass, this was a rich drink to feel happily welcomed with, though I couldn’t imagine how an amateur would consume it in its actual tumbler portion, with such heady sweetness.
The house special starters served to us were Achari Paneer Tikka, Bhatti Da Murg and Amritsari Macchi. The thymol (ajwain/carom seeds)- flavored cottage cheese was cooked inside the tandoor, which did wonders to it, flavorwise. Achari is thus far the best form of cottage cheese I’ve had and thoroughly enjoyed it. Bhatti Da Murg is a house specialty that the restaurant is rather proud of, and not without reason. It reminded me of malai murg and had subtle hints of spices that would be easy on your palette if you were not one for harsh and intense spices. The Amritsari macchi would have been a 10/10 if only it was not as salty. For a family who generally goes by lesser salt in all its meals, the fish batter unfortunately stood out for its salt level.
Punjabi By Nature’s salt levels struck us in particular in one of the main dishes as well – the Bhuna Gosht. The stir fried lamb meat was melt in the mouth tender and submerged in thick gravy of caramelized onion, which would have been twice as good if the salt level wasn’t so high. The Kadhai Chicken however, was extremely good and the gravy made up of whole coriander, capsicum and onion brought back memories of my favorite dish back in Cochin from a local restaurant named Tandoor. Together with crackling garlic and butter naans, the kadhai chicken proved to be a perfect side-dish. A small portion of mutton biriyani was tried as well, which helped in the conclusion that extreme biriyani cravings stood a chance for fulfillment at this restaurant.
The highlight of a delectable weekend! Lunch at @punjabibynaturedubai was a melange of abundantly flavored lamb gravies, exquisitely spiced biriyani and meticulously marinated paneer. Together with crackling garlic naans, a lunch to make you wish fervently that you are truly a Punjabi by nature! #delish #foodkissed
Dessert menu was scrutinized and the order was given for Gulab Jamun and Gajrela. While we enjoyed the jamuns for its non-overpowering sweetness, the gajrela slipped by just without complaints, but with no extra points.
Let’s get to the bottom line. Is Punjabi By Nature worth the trek? I’d say yes. I would go back for the Achari paneer tikka (maybe try the chicken next time), the Bhatti Da Murg, the garlic naan and the kadhai chicken. Service was decent, serving time was good and the ambiance was relaxing. Our drinks Ambh Ka Panna and Shikanjvi were both a tad too sweet while the Bhuna Gosht and Amritsari Macchi were too salty – maybe with some more attention paid to these little but vital points, Punjabi By Nature could raise the bar to a whole fabulous level.
Punjabi By Nature – The Pricing Story:
Ambh ka panna – Aed 14
Shikanjvi – Aed 12
Achari paneer tikka – Aed 28
Bhatti da murg – Aed 32
Amritsari macchi – Aed 32
Butter roti – Aed 6
Bhuna Gosht – Aed 36
Kadhai Chicken – Aed 32
Gulab Jamun – Aed 12
Gajrela – Aed 14