Mumbai Food: Is this late-night North Indian takeaway worth a try? Find out
A late-night North Indian takeaway in Juhu delivers a mixed bag when we order in
Tandoori chicken, jeera rice and dal fry
If a restaurant is named SardaarJi, it would take someone as clueless as Supandi from comic book Tinkle to wonder what sort of cuisine it serves. But some Punjabi eateries veer away from staples from the state to also venture into Sino-Ludhianvi cuisine, where monosodium glutamate is often the overriding component in every dish. Thankfully, this particular joint on Juhu Versova Link Road sticks to the basics. And the fact that we are in the mood for classic North Indian grub is reflected in the order we place on a weeknight - tandoori chicken, dal fry, jeera rice, tandoori roti and butter chicken.
The food arrives in around half an hour, still warm and packed in run-of-the-mill plastic containers. Also, as is customary with such places, we find little packets of pudina chutney included in our order. We empty one of them on to a plate along with the tandoori chicken ('199 for half), which we begin our dinner with. And the first bite transports us somewhere close to Moti Mahal in Delhi's Defence Colony, whose owner, according to popular belief, invented this dish. That gives us a sense of confidence about the rest of our meal. For, any self-respecting Punjabi restaurant that doesn't get its tandoori chicken right should be drowned in a Patiala peg.
We turn our attention to the jeera rice ('120) and dal fry ('175) next. The rice is dotted with little specks of cumin that give it a delightfully mild flavour, complementing the lentil perfectly without overpowering it. The dal itself, however, is a tad disappointing, primarily because it doesn't have the home-cooked feel that we were craving for. It is, instead, oily. So, we don't bother too much with it because throughout, we have been careful about ensuring that there is space in our tummy for that one dish which is as Punjabi as Daler Mehndi's Bolo Tararara - butter chicken.
This, too, owes its roots to Kundan Lal Gujral, the man who came up with the concept of tandoori chicken. In fact, the two dishes have an intertwined history. Gujral wanted to do something about the unsold pieces of tandoori chicken stuck to skewers at the end of a day's business. So, he shredded the meat up, cooked it in a sauce he had specially created with butter, tomatoes, spices and cream, and sold it to customers who lapped it up immediately. Then, when India was divided, he travelled to Delhi from Peshawar and set up shop in the capital, making tandoori and butter chicken his star attractions.
That is mainly why in independent India, these two dishes are as synonymous with food from the north as idli-dosa is with the south. But unfortunately, the version ('249) that we have with the tandoori roti is so sickly sweet that we put it away after a couple of bites. And eventually, we are forced to fall back on the jeera rice and dal fry to complete our meal, only to ensure that we don't go to bed with a hungry stomach.
Timings: 7 pm to 4 am
Address Shop 14, Juhu Ekta CHS, Juhu Versova Link Road, Juhu
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