I received an interesting invite from Lite Bite Foods to attend a ‘Chakhna’. I’ve written reviews for regular meals at restaurants, but this was my first invite to a ‘Chakhna’ (a tasting). The theme was inspired by ‘Tapas’, finger food that Spain is so famous for. The ‘Chakhna’, menu was introduced at Punjab Grill, located on Level 2 at Phoenix Market City.
Fun-loving, honest, salt of the earth with a wonderful exuberance for life and living, that best describes the Punjabi sect. If you’ve ever been their guest, you would know, they will feed you until you’re stuffed, and beyond. Let me add, with a whole lot of love. They love their food and drink, and with their drinks serve a variety of finger food that one just can’t get enough of. Ranging from mildly flavored Malai Tikkas to spicy Lehsuni Tikkas that tingle the palate, they have it all. Gone are the days when finger foods were merely chicken tikkas or haryani kababs. Ever since the surge of fusion food and fine dining, chefs have been trying to satiate the palate of their patrons with new and unique dishes. This was one such occasion.
As we reached the venue we were greeted by our hosts, who led us to the terrace where the ‘Chakhna’ was being held. Tables were beautifully laid out; it seemed like the beginning of a pleasant evening. The server asked us for our preference for drinks. He brought over a tangy drink laced with green chili called Niki Te Tikhi. Quite unique. Quite different. As we sipped on it the chili flavor hit the back of our throat in a nice kind of way. We also tried the Tarbooj with Banta, which was no great shakes. The Pineapple Thandai was well made but served in a way that made it very cumbersome to drink. The copper glass had a heavy brass handle on one side, and kept tilting off the tray (despite it being “stuck” to the tray with dough) and finally, half way through the drink, we requested the server to take it away as we were petrified it would spill.
We also opted for the Margaritas, Ganne Ka Juice Margarita (Sugarcane based) and Rasbhari Margarita (Cape gooseberry based). Fruity, with a hints of mint, ginger and black salt. Both the drinks, though non-alcoholic (because we’re teetotalers), completely blew us away!
As we sipped our ice cold Margaritas in the warm summer breeze, they served us masala chana, onion tikki/bhajia, bhel n one other item that in all honesty I fail to remember, in four colorful cones. The onion tikkis were nice but bordered on run-of-the-mill.
The Jeengha Tikki served on a bed of ragda was crisp on the outside and delicate on the inside but I would have preferred a heavier taste of prawn. When they served us Ambarsari Machchi with desi aloo chips, I was extremely pleased with their choice of fish. They had chosen Rawas (Indian White Salmon). No complaint in regard to this taste-wise, but the fish was overcooked. I prefer my fish delicate and flaky, even when fried. Another drawback : the desi aloo chips weren’t crisp enough.
Next was Tandoori Kukkad wings (chicken wings), marinated in a light tamarind based sauce. The Tawa Chicken Kheema with fryums was very nicely made, but there wasn’t anything new or unique about it. The fryums were a tad saltier than what they should have been. The Anda Tawa Rice was flavorsome. What really had me drooling though was the way they served the masala coated egg on top of the rice. As a true blue Parsee Bawi, I know nearly everything there is to know about eggs. The egg was made to perfection!
Tried the Mathri with cheese fondue. I somehow felt the flavor of the methi in the mathri clashed with that of cheese. I tried some of the cheese from the fondue pot without the mathri : it was otherwise a good blend of cheese. We also called for the Masala Paneer. It was infused with herbs. Atop each piece was a dab of jam that fused perfectly with the herbed cottage cheese. The texture of the paneer was also soft and creamy. A winner, for sure!
As we sat listening to Honey Singh sing, ‘Angreji weed de’ and ‘Char bottal vodka’ for the umpteenth time, Chef Gurpreet Singh came over to greet us. A jovial, friendly Sardar. We spoke to him about the various dishes we’d been served. We also riled him in regard to the restaurant playing the same Honey Singh songs over and over again. As mentioned earlier, we’re teetotalers but all the ‘weedy – vodka-based’ songs left us feeling a bit tipsy as the evening came to an end 🙂 I have always found Punjabi food lip-smacking and finger-lickin’ good and this evening, all in all, was no different.
I had a great time writing this review. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! Until next time… Ciao!!
Ratings (out of 5):
Food: 3.5 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: Rs. 1800 (Without Alcohol)) | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Timings: 12.30PM-11.30pm
Address: Punjab Grill, Level 2, Phoenix Market City, Pune | Phone: 020-66890610
– Kainaaz Writer Bokdawalla