Highway Treats: White Butter Paradise Part 2

Day 2

The suprisingly adventurous Man said that we should head to Amritsar. So strategically light breakfast later, we were on the road. 1.5 hrs later we were in the holy city. A trip inside the Golden Temple, and a booboo later (where we ate the prasad without offering it inside and this was pointed out by a good hearted admonishing sardarji), we landed at the Langar Hall to have the Guru ka Langar- one of the largest community kitchens of the world.

Jalandhar

(left) Mise en place for the langar                                                (right) Hungry thousands

Have you ever been humbled by the food? The Guru ka langar at Harmandir Sahib (aka Golden Temple) will do that you! Being part of the 1,00,000 odd people being fed that day, watching the amazing sense of crowd control and chivalry by the managers, the selflessness of the sewadars chopping vegetables, making rotis and stirring dals in big cauldrons, eating a simple meal of roti, dal, kheer and watching hordes of volunteers cleaning your plate, fulfilling one of the basic needs of a human being- hunger, without any discrimination of caste, creed, wealth and for no material consideration-This to me is religion done right! There is no menu, no tables waiting to be seated and NO white butter, but this meal reminds you what every dietician propounds for a healthy life- simple, wholesome, nutritious meal J

Guru's langar

                               Guru’s langar

Following this we strolled in Jallianwala Bagh, a reminder of the sacrifices made for our freedom. It makes you wonder whether these sacrifices were made in vain.

(left) Phirnis set out to set  (right) Phirni set out to be gobbled

(left) Phirnis set out to set                          (right) Phirni set out to be gobbled

An argument (which I won obviously) later, the Man and I decided to head to Kesar da Dhaba for its famous lassi. We ordered the lassi, aloo parantha and phirni. The lassi was served in the tallest glass I have seen. We stir the drink, take a sip and guess what??? WHITE BUTTER again! It did live up to its reputation. Then came the aloo parantha in a thali so big that I could literally sit on it. It was expectedly coated with white butter, but Sukhdev paranthas won me over. Lastly came the phirni which was of melt-in-ur-mouth consistency and the Man gobbled up everything and left only 2 spoonfuls for me! The lassi n phirni at Kesar are definitely worth a try.

Lassi n Aloo Parantha

                                                                           Lassi n Aloo Parantha

2 hrs drive and COMA later, we were back at the hotel to witness the Punjabi hot chick wed her golfer beau..ok fine we didn’t watch them wed as the pheras were to happen at 4 am and our systems shut at 2am (old age i tell u)! A fun weekend, some hilarious moments courtesy the alcohol (I think I had a vision of jagjit singh doing flamenco), new friends made, memories with old acquaintances refreshed, we are back in guru ka gaon- tired, sleep deprived but motivated- for another road trip! 😀

Wishing N&M our best!!

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Highway Treats: White Butter Paradise Part 1

I was pleasantly surprised when the Man said that he wants to go to Jalandhar to attend his friend’s wedding. It was unbelievable- a workaholic leaving work and travelling 7 hrs by car one way!!- guess the Man really needed a break! It was a road trip after a long time and for me, a car, gps and internet connectivity are sufficient to hit the road! (err…hand sanitiser and tissue paper also :P)

Got ourselves into a cab by 8am and the journey began. The skyscrapers of Gurgaon gave way to the illegal constructions in North Delhi and finally we were on NH1. Sceneries comprising of yellow mustard fields, green cauliflowers, saffron marigolds, creamish sugarcanes and the orange kinnows prevented me from catching up on sleep. Little did I know that I was about to land in white butter paradise, where I would go into a coma after each meal!

First stop: Amrit Sukhdev Dhaba at Murthal

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That’s not yoghurt, its white butter!!

Condiments galore

Condiments galore

Not really a dhaba anymore, its more like haldirams on the highway. Bustling with patrons, we had to stare at people to make them uncomfortable and vacate the table 😛 We ordered mix veg paranthas which came with a big dollop of white butter, served with pickled onions, green chillies, mix veg pickle and a sweet lemon preserve. The paranthas were true to the dhaba style- warm, medium spicy, with the right amount of stuffing and greasy (basically yum!). We ordered tea, which is just the way I like it- milky, sweet, spiced with cinnamon and served in the chaiwala glass- in short Oxford Book Café’s truck driver chai!

COMA

I woke up and it was Ludhiana!! 😀 We stopped for a late lunch at a dhaba called ‘Punjabi Dhaba’ (how unique) Sadly I didn’t take any pics as I was still groggy from the previous butter assault. This time we ordered roti, dal and kadhai paneer. The Man served himself what he thought was a piece of paneer floating in the dal, only to realise that it was a big piece of..u guessed it right…white butter! Special mention abt the staff, who were very exceptionally good hosts. When we could only eat 2 gigantic rotis, the ‘manager’ told us that we hadn’t eaten enough! And when we were leaving he was kind enough to give us a bottle of drinking water, which he had billed by mistake. Such experiences make me realise that some good people still exist in the world… 🙂

COMA

Wake up and we are in Jalandhar to ‘attund wedding’. The Man met his friends, some of them long since his graduation. They are a motley gang of fun people, which unites under the influence of alcohol 😀 It was hilarious dancing to Punjabi pind songs and Honey Singh songs with an Italian, Spaniard, Brit, Chinese, and making new friends on the dance floor- Alcohol, music and dance floor has always done that to me. There was even a clash of Djs, with the local DJ playing hans raj hans and the IITian DJ playing Swedish house mafia, finally the uncles choice for Punjabi songs won the battle. And not to forget, the Spore batch trademark dance to ‘I’ve got a feeling’ was also performed to complete the evening.

Tony Paranthas and more…

Last Sunday we indulged in food from both ends of the price bands. That I am love food and have a herd mentality in this aspect has been divulged in my previous post. But occasionally I am possessed by a certain madness to eat at a specific place, it starts as a small idea mostly while reading food blogs or watching food shows; then it festers in my mind and finally I become crazy till I go there. For the sake of his sanity, the Man volunteers to take me 🙂

Yesterday we lunched at the object of my recent obsession – Indian Accent. I chanced upon it when I read about the restaurants that won those ‘best restaurant’ awards. Then I happened to see Manish Mehrotra, sweating, panting while finely finishing off and ultimately winning Foodistan- despite the pressure, the man’s love and respect for Indian food shone threw. In a FB update I saw the mini pressure cooker in which he serves the anar chooran sorbet and then I was possessed.

Greeted by lovely marigold flowers, the place is sparingly decorated- an occasional ghenda phool here and there. Located in what my friend calls ‘arsehole of new friends colony’, the place was packed. And thankfully no one ‘dressed up’ to eat here!

We chose the Chef’s Tasting Menu (non-vegetarian). The menu can be downloaded from here. Each course was different, but the underlying theme was every day Indian food with a twist you could never imagine eg. Humble ragda pattice interpreted as a ball of potato lacha and ragda mash. The Kerala themed main course- I could never imagine having idiappam with pumpkin curry- but the dish works. Wasabi cucumber raita!!!…Blue cheese naan, smoked bacon stuffed kulcha, lamb stuffed paranthas..tony paranthas in the tony hotel in the tony neighbourhood!

Iz pics

I had my initial apprehensions about portion sizes in a tasting menu (well I was a tasting menu varzin) but we were so full that we went for a walk in new friends colony before getting into our car (thus inviting strange glares from the security and valet). Back home I googled for some of his recipes- they are very very simple. But its his imagination and the execution which makes Indian Accent a cut (err…many cuts) above the rest!

True to being me, I had a mini faux pas moment when I was relishing the ‘palate cleanser’ anar chooran sorbet as a dessert and the waitstaff came to clear the plates and I had the stick in my mouth. I gave the embarrassed-middle-class-girl-in-la di da-environment look. Apparently I wasn’t supposed to eat the whole of it, since I was supposed to leave some space for main course!! (Mental note- learn how to make the sorbet)

The staff requires special mention- extremely friendly and helpful and absolutely NO SNOBBERY. When we looked confused at the food, they were kind enough to explain components rather than give us a condescending look. It is so refreshing to see such a restaurant, all the awards and the reputation associated with it, to be very warm and inviting.

Dear Chef Mehrotra- I had (and still have) great respect for your non-compromising attitude towards hospitality. But after the Indian Accent experience, I have started LOVING you!! J

PS: BEST SPARE RIBS EVER!!!!

PPS: I will steal some of the cutlery if there ever is a second time.

Highway Treats: Old Rao Restaurant

For the longest time I was under the impression that ‘Rao’s only existed in Andhra Pradesh. Pay a little attention to the shacks/dhabas on NH8 towards Rewari, every establishment is a ‘Rao’ with a prefix or a suffix! The original, I am told by regulars on NH8, is Old Rao Restaurant, sandwiched between Fortune Hotel and the Hero factory (while travelling towards Rewari from Delhi). The man and I decided to make good use of a Sunday when there was no water supply in our apartment complex- a trip to Old Rao. The best part was that yours truly got to drive, much to the chagrin of the man. The bestest part was the light drizzle and a surprisingly cool day!

 

Old Rao..we are watching you...

Old Rao..we are watching you…

Old Rao is 75 mins away from Gurgaon (M.G. Road) (which means 45 mins if drive like normal people on a highway!) The place is identifiable from the highway due to the multitude of cars parked around it. We reached at 3 pm only to be greeted by a packed hall! Patrons say that the place is packed at all times. The attendant handed over a small chit which is the extensive menu of paranthas, Indian breads, currys, raitas, snacks and beverages. We ordered aloo pyaaz parantha, garlic naan, shahi paneer and spl tea.

Dhabha swaag

Dhabha swaag saada desi…

The wait is abt 20-25 mins but it seems excruciatingly long because you can see ppl at the nearby tables are tucking in warm paranthas/naan slathered with butter and curries drowning in ghee. Every table gets complimentary ‘salad’ of cukes and onion. By the time our food arrived, we had made our neighbours uncomfortable by staring at their plates!

Heaven on stainless steel...

Heaven on stainless steel…

The verdict: Old Rao is not for the faint hearted or calorie counters…the food is true to the dhaba reputation- fresh, fuss-free and fatty!! Old Rao claims to use only butter and ghee in its food. I personally enjoyed the parantha more than the naan (naan wasn’t oily enough for me!) The man enjoyed the shahi paneer. We rounded off the meal with spl tea (the closest to mallu tea that we got in north india- milky and served in a glass..yess tall glass) and the kesar kulfi which was rich with the right level of sweetness (sadly no pics). The lassi with its almonds and drizzle of rose syrup is also a must have (again no pics).

After-party: We didn’t need any dinner!!

In Santa’s land

(well not really…Santa’s airport more like it!!)

What happens when one has to spend 5 hours at an airport in Lapland cause somebody crossed immigration unknowingly and lost the golden opportunity to step out into snow clad wonderland…

we eat cheesecake with lingonberry sauce….

Curiosity got the better of me when I popped in a piece of humble looking cured meat only to be told that is REINDEER MEAT…. sorry Rudolf but u taste very good…I also ate cold smoked caviar only to regret it and chomped on some liquorice to change the taste in my mouth. I was tempted to pick the reindeer meat and bear meat to take home, but taking the said meat outside EU is banned.. 😦

Finland..your transit lounge keeps me well occupied, you definitely deserve a visit! Hope to see u soon…