Punjabis are known for their warm hospitality, bhangra, and food besides many other things. It was on the occasion of Lohri that I was invited to sample the curated Lohri Brunch at Pavilion 75, WelcomHotel Dwarka.
Being a Punjabi (don’t go by my surname that is acquired – side effects of being a woman, more on this, some other time perhaps and I am not a feminist) who is inclined towards vegetarianism I had already pictured myself eating Sarson Ka Saag and Makki Ki Roti – that’s my seasonal favourite.
As I entered Pavilion 75, I was greeted by the staff wearing traditional Punjabi dress in bright blue color and the place was decked with kites, parandas, and woolen yarns in bright colours (Ludhiana is one of the hubs in Punjab where woolens are manufactured) that gave it a very traditional and at home feel. By the way, there was also the Kite Festival that was taking place simultaneously at Dwarka Sector 10 as part of the celebrations for Makar Sankranti that was organized by Delhi Tourism.
The spread at the brunch was huge (Punjabis don’t believe in small portions and are large hearted) and I, without much ado only concentrated on the theme-brunch i.e. only on the Punjabi dishes and while there was a large buffet of Continental, Oriental dishes and desserts I preferred to stay in the Punjab of the Pavilion 75. To my surprise, even my daughters who are well known for their love of pastas and pizzas in the family, shunned the idea of taking an Italian detour that day and stuck to our own desi Punjabi food. Chef Yashpal who was at the helm of this brunch had put a lot of thought in putting across an array of Punjabi dishes that were different from the usual, for example, there was Sagle Ki Daal which is Urad Daal with Khajur (dates); now we all know Daal Makhni as a staple and rich Punjbai daal that has become a regular attendee at all the party circuits/ restaurants which serve typical north Indian Punjabi dishes but Sagle Ki Daal was a surprise entrant for me at least, as I had never imagined that Punjabis share something in common with the Gujaratis (they also add sugar to their daals to make it sweet).
No talk of Punjabi food is complete without Chicken and to make the afternoon as Punjabi as it could get there was mouthwatering and utterly delicious, rich, and creamy Patiala Murg and the world famous Butter Chicken.
Now Butter Chicken has a special place in my heart as while I was staying in Ludhiana (for a short spell of six months) I had the chance of tasting the divine Butter Chicken at Chawla’s in Ludhiana and trust me that is the most delicious Butter Chicken you can ever imagine and hence it takes courage to try the red gravy Butter Chicken you get in Delhi. So without any expectations, I took a bite of Butter Chicken with a soft and butter kissed Naan and voila, it was very close to what I wanted and let me tell you I finished an entire Naan with the rich cashew gravy of Patiala Murg and the yummy Butter Chicken. Now, I know if I can’t travel to Ludhiana for that taste of Butter Chicken that is so deeply engraved in my taste buds, I can very well come to Pavilion 75 and request for a portion of Butter Chicken by Chef Yashpal only. I am not taking any chances with my Butter Chicken.
There were more Punajbi dishes like – Kadhi, Pindi Chole, Moongra Badiya, seasonal vegetables like Aloo Methi, Choliya, and other vegetarian dishes and the nonvegetarians too were delighted with Saag Wala Meat, Keema Kaleji and Gurda on Tawa, besides Patiala Murg and Butter Chicken. Like I mentioned, kids too gave the Italian food a miss and enjoyed their time with Butter Chicken, Patiala Murg and Naan; I felt like a proud mom when the chef asked if the kids enjoyed the Pasta and Noodles and they replied that they had a proper Punjabi meal for today. In fact, Cheryl (my elder daughter) tried a glass of Kanji of which I gulped at least two glasses.
It was then, it struck me that theme brunches like these are actually a must go to for kids as it is a great way to introduce them to the traditional food and culture of a region. Like for example, both my daughters will now remember that Phulkari (the table runners had Phulkari embroidery on them) is a traditional embroidery from Punjab. I think it is a great way of keeping the culture alive and passing the legacy on to the next generation without burdening them with allegations that they don’t care about the heritage and then we in our bid to revive a lost form of art or craft just bombard the next generation with our ideas. I am saying, if we introduce these traditional arts and crafts and cuisines as a part of our lives the need of revival doesn’t arise (khadi and banarsi weaves, for example).
You know Punjabis are about food and more food, and desserts are not food so you have to eat food and then desserts are mandatory.
We did ditto for desserts as well; we ditched the idea of fancy pastries and mousse and cheese cake and headed straight to fill our plates with Gajrela and hot and crispy Jalebis with Rabdi – the ultimate sweet dish from north India. There was also Meetha Chawal made with Gur (jaggery) and Kesar which reminded me of my childhood days, this sweet rice was actually a must-make-dish with a lot of dry fruits, at least twice or thrice in winters back at home.
It was a lovely time I had with my daughters here and while we enjoyed the Punjabi spread Rohit Joshi, co-founder, Coins and Maps was enjoying the Sunday Brunch at ITC Kakatiya, Hyderabad.
Kidolicious: WelcomHotel Dwarka thank you for having us over for this theme brunch, for besides filling our bellies with yummy food I had the chance to talk about geography, festivals, culture, and food of Punjab with my daughters and that is learning by eating.
And by the way, I also had the honor of meeting the celebrated food critic Marryam H Reshii (oh! should have clicked a selfie with her) at Pavilion 75. Perhaps, the next time we go brunching we can discuss food as a serious business with kids and I am sure they would appreciate and look at food with a changed perspective then.
What I liked: With a price like INR 1500+taxes for this wide spread buffet which also includes bottomless supply of Hoegaarden I think you should call even your extended family for a family reunion here (sure shot way to impress your relatives)
What I missed: While it was a Lohri Brunch I would have liked to have some Urad Dal Khicdi – a must on Makar Sankranti (Don’t judge me, Khicdi is my favourite comfort food) and perhaps taken the conversation with my little ladies a little further.
While every week they change the live band that is playing while you are enjoying your food, this time In Sane Mode would have had us grooving to their tunes had they played one or two Punjabi numbers too. After all, Punjabi music is a great mood enhancer. What say?
P.S. I am not even mentioning about the plethora of starters which I gave a miss this time as I wanted to enjoy the pure Punjabi bliss without any distractions.