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Punjabi Tadka is a unique food festival offering traditional dishes of the state.
Butter Chicken / Tandoori Chicken might be considered the defining dishes of Punjab but there is more to the state’s cuisine than just that. A trip into Punjab’s heartland and you will be treated to traditional recipes that make the most of seasonal produce as well as recipes passed down generations. Looking to present a slice of Punjab albeit in a refreshing way and timed with Lohri is the ‘Punjabi Tadka’ food festival. Organised by WelcomHotel Bella Vista in Panchkula, the festival features a unique mix of popular as well as lesser-known Punjabi fare.
Chef Manohar (left) with Chef Narayan (right)
Interestingly, the hotel’s 'Executive Chef Duddi Reny Manohar' teamed up with his colleague 'Chef Narayan' to curate the menu. “Winter is the perfect time to relish robust Punjabi cuisine but we were keen to present more than what’s already available in the city including dishes that rarely make it to restaurant menus”, says chef Manohar. Joining him in this endeavour is Chef Narayan who has experienced the local flavour of various regions of Punjab and has adapted them in his style of cooking.
Amle Ki Machhi
Among those dishes are Amle Ki Machhi and Kunna Murg. While most diners here would be aware of Amritsari Macchi or fried fish, Amle Ki Machhi pairs the fish with Amla for a tangy flavour. Kunna Murg is a free-range chicken cooked in one pot.
“We have followed 'deg' or single pot cooking for many of the dishes. Apart from Kunna Murg, there’s Deg ka gosht, which is lamb on bone stewed in a large copper vessel with all ingredients put together. Then there’s Tandoori Chooza which is skinless baby chicken marinated overnight in freshly pounded tandoori spices and hung curd”, explains Chef Narayan.
To research on dishes for this festival, the chefs took a culinary road trip and visited cities like Malerkotla in Punjab which is known for its robust non-vegetarian dishes. “The recipes of Punjab are heavily influenced by the agricultural and farming lifestyle. The festival assimilates all this knowledge coupled with the experience our team has in Punjabi food”, sums up Chef Manohar.
The buffet menu offers welcome drinks like Gulab Ka Sharbat but do not miss the shorbas on the menu. The Makki Ka Shorba for vegetarians is flavoursome while those who like their meats will relish Paye ka Shorba. Starters include the likes of Chollian Ki Tikki and Keema Kaleeji.
It is interesting to see dishes like Baigan Ka Bharta and Amritsari Badi Masala in the main course along with Paneer Bhurji and Pindi Channa. Bringing up the desserts are seasonal favourites like Gud Ke Chawal and Ganne Ke Ras Ki Kheer. So, if you are looking to savour Punjabi dishes that go beyond the usual, do not give this festival a miss.
The food festival is on till January 27. Weekdays offer a la carte menu while there will be a buffet on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
A seasoned journalist, Jagmeeta has worked with The Indian Express for 16 years writing extensively on food, popular culture and fashion. A Master's in English, she completed her honours in Journalism from Delhi University and started her career in journalism with New Delhi Television (NDTV) as a reporter. She was part of the launch team for NDTV.com. Having turned a freelance writer and editor in 2016, she has been writing for The Hindustan Times, Chandigarh and is also a contributor for The Voice of Fashion steered by IMG Reliance Ltd as well as Chandigarh's popular lifestyle portal - simplythecity.com. When she's not reviewing food or dissecting the season's trends, she likes to travel with her daughter and husband, a professional photographer. A photography enthusiast herself, Jagmeeta has also curated photo exhibitions and calls herself a collector of cookbooks and recipes and a proud 'fauji' daughter and sister.