The menu was designed to pay homage to the medicinal value of the Indian spices and ingredients and the home remedies that grandmothers and mothers use at home.
By Reya Mehrotra
For those locked inside homes, scared of the virus and finding numerous ways to beat it, food has been a major focus area. Not only did we take to cooking all that we couldn’t eat from outside, we tried to find medicine in food. After all, you are what you eat.
Immunity boosters was the big thing and anything and everything that was proven or even rumoured to boost immunity found its way to our tummies. Taking from that trend, restaurants, when they opened up, have been trying to give customers what they want.
Reviving traditional regional recipes had been gaining ground even before the pandemic. So post-lockdown, it’s no surprise restaurant menus have focused on not only traditional recipes, but those including healthy options as well.
Rohit Aggarwal, director of Lite Bite Foods, the parent company of Punjab Grill, believes that the Indian kitchen is a treasure trove of immunogenic herbs and spices. “Even our regular masala chai is bubbling with immune-strengthening goodness.”
So when Punjab Grill came up with a ‘nani ke nuskhe’ menu that not only is a trip down nostalgia lane, but also an experience of good gastronomy, the idea was to “incorporate as many fresh ingredients rather than ready-to-use ingredients in the food. We won’t alter our signature classics but will keep introducing new healthy options to provide a well-balanced spectrum of options to our patrons,” shares Aggarwal.
The eight-course menu consists of dishes curated with health and well-being in mind and cooked with whole and natural spices to give them a homely taste and feel. Chef Sareen Madhiyan’s menu begins with rabdi in a whole new light. Giving a salty twist to the delicacy, Madhiyan reintroduces it as khatti rabdi, which he prepares with dalia and wheat flour cooked in buttermilk. What one gets is quite similar to the taste of buttermilk, commonly found in every household, but thicker and tastier.
As one progresses through the meal, rawas fish gets a tangy amla twist, chicken biryani meets gongura, the vegan shish kebab melts in the mouth with its spice blend and the tomato glaze treat the taste buds. The originality of the Bihari litti chokha thali has been preserved, but its quality enhanced with mixed fruit raita, the comfort of home cooked dal and thick coatings of desi ghee.
The kulfa gosht and dal kulfa, namak gosht khichra, saoji chicken curry are a perfect combination of health and taste. One thing that stands out is the freshness and lightness of the food, just like at home. The sumptuous meal concludes with the royal flavour of shahi tukda and mango ice cream and the relaxing elaichi kahwa reminds one of the Kashmiri ritual.
The menu was designed to pay homage to the medicinal value of the Indian spices and ingredients and the home remedies that grandmothers and mothers use at home. Chef Sareen, who took inspiration from his own grandmother’s recipes and tips, shares the reason behind the name of the menu, “We don’t rely on health supplements, but we include things that strengthen our system to fight common ailments. We learnt these remedies from our mothers who in turn learned from their mothers, hence this name.”