Gujarat, particularly Ahmedabad, has been my abode for almost two years now. Ahmedabad is all about staunch vegetarianism, and whatever non-vegetarian outlets are there, serve average to unpalatable food, barring one or two. Hardly are there any places that you would want to go by choice. My job takes me all over Gujarat, and I’ve realized that as you go down south of Ahmedabad, towards Vadodara and Surat, the non-veg component in the food is more visible. Nowhere in Ahmedabad would you find roadside eateries selling any meats. But in Vadodara and Surat, they are aplenty, and the food tastes better. It’s not that I don’t like vegetarian food, or I’m trying to put vegetarians in a class below, but just that non-veg appeals to me more than vegetarian.
My recent office trip to Surat was another discovery. Sitting on my desk in the office, while browsing the internet, I stumbled upon a news item of last month, talking about a gentleman from Surat who resembles a prominent politician (Rahul Gandhi). It was said that this guy owns a roadside eatery selling chicken, and is quite famous among the locals. Well, chicken in Surat? The salivation started, and I began praying- Oh God, let this be as good as it sounds! You may imagine how deprived I am of good non-veg food!
Anyways, the first thing required was the location. So I searched and searched, but nothing came up- no addresses or numbers. Since I was in Surat, I asked around, but to no avail. After two days of frantic research, I was finally able to uncover the location and the name- Prashant Sethi, opposite Kapadia Health Club, near civil hospital in Ambanagar area of Surat.
Sethi- Punjabi- my hopes went up an inch! Armed with the information, I took an auto and reached the spot. Now, it isn’t difficult to reach. I passed by the civil hospital, turned left, and after a kilometer or so, to my left, was Shere Punjab Chicken Center. It is located on the bank of a canal, running right through the road. There were total three eateries, the other two were just killing time, but Shere Punjab was the one where the action was.
I had arrived there around 7 pm, and within 15 minutes, the crowds had begun to gather. The place is unpretentious, but the food isn’t. A simple looking area, with chairs and tables laid out in front of the eatery. There is no permanent structure there. If you find a seat, fine, or you stand and eat. I was taking in the surroundings when I noticed a long line of vehicles already beginning to form. Not wasting any more time, I started up a chat with the famed owner, Prashant Sethi, scanning the menu alongside.
Shere Punjab is run by the father-son duo of Subhash and Prashant Sethi. Subhash had migrated to Surat in 1984 from a town called Sonepat in Haryana, aiming to start a newspaper agency. It didn’t click, so he took to cooking chicken and started the eatery near L B Cinema area. Then they moved to the present location in 2008. Subhash does most of the cooking, and Prashant manages the rest. The phone keeps ringing off the hook, as people call in advance for their orders. One sad thing about the place, they only make three dishes, apart from the usual rice and rotis! I asked for all of them- Fried Chicken Liver, Tandoori Fried Chicken and Masala Chicken.
The Fried Chicken Liver (50/100) was an absolute delight! Long time I had liver cooked so well, and so simple! Pieces of liver dipped in the marinade made of chickpea flour, spices, ginger, garlic & salt and deep fried; they were crisp on the outside and soft inside. I was intrigued with the name Tandoori Fried Chicken (120/240), and Subhash clarified that the chicken is marinated in tandoori masalas and then fried twice, hence the name. Interesting! But what chicken! Beautifully tender and crisp, with the marinade gone well inside the meat, heavenly! Then was the Masala Chicken (60/120/240), which was essentially chicken curry. It had a strong flavor of black pepper, with a base of curd, ginger, garlic, onions and a bit of tomatoes. Went well with the rotis. Could have been better with a little coriander as well, but that’s me.
One interesting fact- Subhash and Prashant cut and dress their chicken, marinate and cook it with their own hands, but they themselves are vegetarians!
This was arguably the best chicken I’ve had in recent times, and would recommend it to all carnivores visiting Surat. My next visit is going to be soon, and Shere Punjab will see me then, again, and again.
This was an unplanned visit and pictures were taken from the Mobile Camera, hence though they are not of Indian Food Freak quality, but never-the-less gives an indicative idea of the place.
– Amit Uppal
Rating out of 5
Food: 4 | Ambience: N/A| Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: Rs. 450| Alcohol: No | Credit Card: No | Timings: 6.30 PM to 11 PM
Address: Opposite Kapadia Health Club, Near Civil Hospital, Ambanagar, Surat | Telephone: 98258 98082