As kids, we were told to watch out for omens. We were listening to Duran Duran’s Ordinary World when we dropped by Funjabi Tadka on Bandra’s Hill Road. It was a weekday and despite the crowds outside, the space was empty. Our presence was registered only after we sat down. We should’ve heard these warning bells. Instead, we focused on the little temple bells on the ceiling; its brightness broken by dull grey pieces of rock suspended nearby.
Harpal Sokhi, the “Namak shamak” chef on a popular 24x7 food channel, started this restaurant. Naturally, we were hoping for the real deal since Funjabi Tadka claims to serve authentic Punjabi food with a twist. Think Pudina Mirch Lassi (Rs 90), Green-Apple Spiked Sugarcane Juice (Rs 80) and Mirchaan Wala Halwa (Rs 175). This, we were to realise later, came at a cost. We were the lone customers and despite at least five wait staff milling around, service was bad. We began with the delicious sounding and self-proclaimed ‘world’s best lassi’, the Ferro Rocher Lassi (Rs 160). It disappointed — too thin and sour, the chocolate overpowered it; we couldn’t finish it. The tiny bits of Ferrero, not Ferro, played saviour.
Our vegetarian starter, Mushroom Ki Galouti on Ulta Tawa Paratha (Rs 195) was the star. The galouti was as tender as its lamb version, made from heavily spiced, finely chopped mushrooms, with a dash of tang. It was served on a small round fried paratha and topped with a mint sprig and an onion ring, with pickled onions and beetroots as sides. The Matka Amritsari Tikka (Rs 240) was done well and arrived in a container that didn’t resemble a matka. It was plonked on our table leaving us to open the dough that covered the top.
Sated with the starters, we moved to the mains. It’s when things began to go awry. The Gobi Mutter Banarasi Keema (Rs 175) tasted of boiled gobi mixed in a bland gravy. The Mutton Kheema Dal Tadka (Rs 195) had bits of kheema while the Nimboo Wala Butter Chicken (Rs 280) was like an excessively creamy, sweet white gravy but with well-cooked, chunky chicken pieces on the bone. The Tandoori Bekti (Rs 280) insulted this fish; with a thick coating of character-less red chili masala. These were accompanied by Peethi Wali Masala Roti (Rs 50), Masoor Dal Ki Roti (Rs 50) (it tasted of boiled masoor) and a salty- spicy Makkai Masala Roti (Rs 50).
For dessert, the lone interesting item, Paan Rasmalai Beeda (Rs 175) wasn’t available. Luckily, the Mirchaan Wala Halwa (Rs 175) with sweet halwa and a spicy aftertaste, was yum. The Mehedana Chenna Phirni (Rs 175) was overly sweet. Another bite, especially after our earlier bad run would have had us bouncing off the walls, so we skipped it.