Dhabas as a concept came up with the advent of the Grand Trunk Road, and expanded its reach to all over India with the spread of highways. Since most Indian truck drivers are of Punjabi descent, and Punjabi food is quite popular throughout India, the word dhaba has come to represent any restaurant that serves Punjabi food, especially the heavily spiced and fried Punjabi fare preferred by many truck drivers. Dhabas were characterized by mud structures and cots to sit upon (called ‘chaarpai’ in Hindi) while eating. A wooden plank would be placed across the width of the cot on which to place the dishes. With time, the cots were replaced by tables. The food is typically inexpensive and has a ‘homemade’ feel to it.
So when I hear about the ‘Rang de Basanti (RDB)’ dhaba which has opened a few months ago at NDSE-2 on the first floor, naturally I am curious. The question on top of my mind is how authentic is it. I enter the dhaba which has a rustic feel to it with a tractor parked there and a lot of kitschy stuff on the walls. Thankfully there are no chaarpais and I am seated comfortably.
Going through the extensive tasting session, I find the food genuine and authentic with that ‘balle-balle’ feeling that only a dhaba can give. Of course not every dish is spectacular, but the food in general is unpretentious and real, but with ‘Delhi prices’. Here is a summary of the dishes tasted:
– Dahi Ke Kabab (Full/Half) Rs 225.00/ 125.00: Soft, creamy and luscious in the mouth
– Mutton chaampen & burrah (Full/Half) Rs 325.00/ 195.00: The way they should be. Good quality meat, beautifully grilled.
- – Peeli dal tadka (Full/Half) Rs 165.00/ 105.00: Yellow mung dal stands out because of its light and simple taste
– Gobi wadi ghost (Full/Half) Rs 445.00/ 255.00: A great dish. Punjabi urad dal vadis cooked with cauliflower and mutton give a diverse texture and a complex taste to the dish.
– Nimbu meat (Full/Half) Rs 445.00/ 255.00: A simple concept, beautifully executed. Mutton cooked with nimbu pickle.
– Laal Mirch ka parantha Rs 45.00: Crisp, flaky with a hit of red chillies.
– Khubani Ka meetha Rs 115.00: Not cloyingly sweet, a lavish apricot treat.
Safe but nothing spectacular:
– Baingan bharta (Full/Half) Rs 275.00/ 125.00: Could have been great but the smoky touch is absent.
– Dal fry (Full/Half) Rs 165.00/ 105.00: No different from elsewhere.
– Kadai paneer (Full/Half) Rs 325.00/ 175.00: Competent, but just about.
– Hari mirch ki roti Rs 25.00: Interesting concept, but does not deliver the punch.
– Imli ka amlana Rs 90.00: Pleasant.
-Mutton boti din raat (Full/Half) Rs 245.00/ 125.00: Average tikkas on the dry side, stuffed in half a boiled egg. No character to the dish.
– Bheja Fry (Full/Half) Rs 425.00/ 255.00: Bheja overcooked to the extent that it totally dissolves in the masala, destroying the dish’s velvety texture.
– Shahi tukda Rs 115.00: Had a chalky aftertaste.
– Aam ka panna/Jajeera Rs 90.00: Not really authentic, and too sweet.
Despite the few misses, the food overall is real. Add to it the central location, the quirky interiors and friendly service, it has all that it takes to be a great choice of an evening out with friends and family.
Ratings out of 5
Food: 3.5, Ambiance: 4.0| Service: 4.0| Overall: 4.0
Meal for Two: Rs 1000 for 2 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes| Timing: 12:00 noon – midnight
Address: E18, 1st Floor, South Extension 2, New Delhi | Phone: 011 40532140, 011 40532141, +91 8826420133