Punjab Da Jashn, Jamawar, Leela Palace

I had heard good things about Jamavar, the signature Indian restaurant at The Leela Palace and especially their Chef Farman Ali, known for his amazing repertoire on North Indian food culture and history. So, when an opportunity to check out the Punjabi Food Festival at Jamawar presented itself, it took just a little urging from a fellow blogger for me to agree. Jamawar hosts four food festivals annually, two that are an ode to North Indian cuisine, and two to the South. The Punjab Da Jashn festival is on now, through the 26th of May. There is a special multi-page menu for it, and it is quite a mind-boggling range! You can do a la carte, or choose from one of the set menu options. You are sure to have a fine meal, beautifully presented, in luxurious surroundings and with impeccable service.

We began with Ambi Panna, a green mango drink that was chilled and refreshing. There was quite the selection of fresh pickles and relishes on the table, including a lovely green papaya relish and a rather strong radish pickle. As always, being a non vegetarian meant I could dig into every starter that was presented. The vegetarian offerings were: Palak di Tikki, Paneer Tikka Jalandhari and Gande di Bhaji (onion bhaji). The Palak di tikki was absolutely the dish of the afternoon; corn kernals in the cutlets gave it a lovely crunch, and the roasted tomato chutney on top was tangy and elevated the dish to another level. The non-veg appetizers comprised of: Kukkad Tawe Da (tenderized chicken fillets coated in rich spices), Barra Kebab (tandoori lamb shanks with that hint of mustard oil that I’ve really come to appreciate), and Macchi Amritsari (coated and fried fish). All good, but once we tried the corn and spinach tikkis, really, everything else just paled in comparison!

The main course was served next, and the ubiquitous Maa ki Dal came in little steel buckets –  the presentation was tops, but it did not match up to the taste of other Maa ki Dals I’ve eaten. There were altogether too many dishes to be able to indulge in both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian fully, but of course we tried! The meat eaters enjoyed Kukkad Sarson Da (tender chicken in mustard leaves gravy) Macchi Masaleydar (fish in a spicy gravy that I could not stop eating), Mutton Rarra (mutton chops and mutton kheema – sounded and looked sinful, but lacked any depth of flavor), and for the vegetarians: Dhaniya Aloo Wadi, Gobi Mutter Chatpati, Sarson da Saag (as good as it gets). Fresh, hot naans and rotis accompanied the meal. Last but of course, never least, was the dessert plate: Jalebi, Pinni Nabha Di, Badam Te Gurh da Halwa (almond and jaggery halwa that was served in a little waffle style cup and was very rich and very good), Malai Pista Kulfi with Phirni (I loved the malai kulfi which was just perfectly set and tasted divine). Chef’s engaging presence and the food made this quite a star afternoon. Leela being the Leela, it’s a pricey menu and indulgence for most, but if you are able, do indulge!

[button link=”http://www.chefatlarge.in/downloads/PunjabiFFMenu.pdf” color=”silver” newwindow=”yes”] Download Menu[/button]

Photo courtesy: Ruth Dsouza Prabhu

Natasha Ali

Natasha's first foray into food writing has been with Chef at Large. Who knew all those years spent eating food, reading about it and looking for the next restaurant to try or watching cooking shows would have left such an indelible impression?! She's back in India after having spent over a decade in the US where she studied as well as taught in academia and now works as a content writer seeing as she can write about pretty much anything. Movie mad, obsessed with the English language, and never one to turn down a glass of good wine, cup of tea, or a good book, she's open to trying any dish once, she enjoys a variety of cuisines with favorites being Ethiopian, Thai, and Lebanese. Natasha covers Bangalore for Chef at Large and can be reached at natasha.ali@www.chefatlarge.in