I shifted to Pune from Delhi around a year-and-a-half ago. Being a foodie, I love experimenting with all kinds of cuisines and in the first six months of my stay in the city, I binged on the road-side treats such as the vada pavs, pav bhajis, dabelis and loni dosas. Every weekend, I would go to a new joint to try the local food, and come back delighted. But lately, I have been craving for my favourite dal makhani, a Punjabi delicacy, which is as popular as the pav bhaji here.It is available at almost all the local dhabas and high-end restaurants back home. So there I was, in search of my dal; I had been to almost all the “good” Punjabi restaurants, but no one in particular could satisfy my tastebuds, except for one popular joint in Aundh, which came closest to what I was looking for.
My hunt finally came to an end recently at Kangan, The Westin Koregaon Park last week, where I was invited to taste their newly-launched Punjabi menu. I was told that chef Narayan Salunke specialises in North Indian cuisine, particularly daal makhani, which they have named dal Kangan, one of their signature dishes. So, as they started preparing the dishes, I waited in anticipation hoping this one would not leave me disappointed.
To start with, the tandoori platter came with an assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebabs and tikkas including mutton, chicken, fish, broccoli, mushrooms and paneer. The grilled pudina broccoli and basa fish tikka were clear winners, after which I straight away moved to the main course and ordered my dal, as I didn’t want to mar my appetite anymore.
As soon as the dal arrived on the table, the old smoky aroma it was infused with, took me back to my grandma’s kitchen for a moment. As the chef stood waiting to see my first reaction, I took my first spoonful of the dal with a slice of buttery garlic naan that looked lip-smackingly sinful. The colour, appearance and flavours were bang on! Just what I had been looking for all these days. Gosht beliram was the next surprise that chef Salunke has especially created for the non-vegetarian food lovers, who told me that the dish was inspired by one of the villages of Punjab where it is prepared over an open ‘angithi’. The melt-in-the-mouth mutton was a brilliant recipe and had the perfect blend of spices.
By the time I finished my meal, I was so stuffed that I could hardly talk. And then came the last surprise, which was an absolute icing on the cake – the rose petal rice kheer – one of the best kheer I have eaten in a long time. The idea of preparing kheer with fresh rose petals gave a refreshing twist to the traditional dessert and earned the chef the browny points I had saved for the last