6-12 May 2016 #807

Dhaba festival

Soaltee Crowne Plaza hopes of recreating roadside dining in the second edition of its Dhaba Festival
Someplace Else by Smriti Basnet

Pics: YUWEI LIEW

Dhabas, the ubiquitous roadside restaurants that dot highways along northern India and Pakistan were once the exclusive domain of truck drivers. Today these eateries have transformed into something of a tourist attraction – a visit to one completes the India experience.

In hopes of recreating roadside dining, Soaltee Crowne Plaza launched the second edition of its Dhaba Festival this month.

Upon entrance, milestones placed in prominent places in the premises guide you to ‘Happy Singh da Dhaba’. At the venue, fairy lights strung across the temporary bamboo structures, posters of old Bollywood hits plastered on the walls, and loud bhangra music playing in the background liven up the ambience.

We settled at a comfortable spot overlooking the entire dhaba and were promptly asked for our preferences. A round of drinks and a platter of snacks were then served by waiters in punjabi kurtas.

Thandai, sweet lassi

With three expansive menus of lassis, charcoal roasted meat, vegetable dishes, oven-fresh naans, parathas, and a wide variety of sweet dishes, the food festival hopes to recapture the essence of these small eateries.

The different yet delicious Tadke wali lassi stood out with its rich spicy aftertaste. The drink paired well with the delectable Pyaz Mutter Ki Potli, a deep fried dish consisting of onions and peas wrapped to resemble a momo, and Paneer Ki Sule, roasted yet soft paneer, served with tasty condiments.

Moreover, the succulence of the roasted mutton and the crispiness of the deep fried fish as snack items whetted our appetite for the mains.

Chole Bhature, a signature dish of dhabas

For dinner we headed to a live station making Chole Bhature, a signature dish of dhabas. The fresh deep fried flour bread paired with spicy chickpeas balanced out tastes of both the dishes. The creamy Dal Makhani, whole black lentils and red kidney beans cooked in butter, added moistness to the otherwise dry combo of the Chole Bhature.

The dhaba also offered a vegetarian and non-vegetarian buffet. Among the assorted menu, the Sarson Di Saag, a gravy of mustard leaves made in spices topped with butter stood out with its rich flavours. When eaten with the tava baked Maki Di Roti, bread made from corn flour, the taste of the gravy was even more pronounced. In addition to the veggie delights, the piquant taste of the Gosht aur Ande ki Biryani, mutton and egg biryani, and the succulent Firoj Pur wale Murgh, gravy chicken, left us craving for more.

To round up the evening meal, a variety of appetising sweet dishes laid out on the counter. The savory Gajar ka Haluwa, a carrot pudding, served hot provided a perfect end to a satisfying meal.

A food haven for vegetarians, non vegetarians, Punjabis and non Punjabis alike, the Dhaba Festival at the Soaltee is a must. Attend not only from the flavoursome meal but also for the unmistakable feel of the Grand Trunk Road.

Smriti Basnet

How to get there: Turn right Soalteemode chowk and go 200 metres until you see the Soaltee Crowne Plaza sign on the right. If you reach Grand Hotel, you’ve gone too far.

Open from 6.30PM onwards

Rs 1,850 plus taxes

Until 14 May 2016

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