Barbeque Nation's Grand Trunk Road food festival

The Grand Trunk Road, all of 2500 kilometers, stretches from Kabul in central Asia to Chittagong in Bangladesh. It has existed for the past 2000 years and conjures up images of caravans trundling across the plains of Asia with precious cargo for trade. Today, trucks have replaced the caravans. Major cities located on this road include Peshawar, Lahore, Delhi and Howrah. Barbeque Nation has taken over this route(!) till the 17th of August to showcase its take on the specialities of this region.

As usual, on entering the T'Nagar branch of the restaurant, the ambiance is striking. It's a lively place, the music is loud, waiters rush hither and thither with grills and trays of skewers, happy diners brush marinades on skewers and the sizzle and aroma of grilled food is everywhere. On the walls are thermacol boards with road signs that try to make you think you're driving on the GTR.

Invited to review this celebration  of food, we are led to a slightly quieter space. Service begins almost immediately- a portable grill is embedded in our table and a tray of marinades placed near it. Skewers appear and other starters are served on our plates.

There's a 2 man band playing live music when the lights dim and a space is cleared in the middle of the restaurant. Six men dressed in costumes, their faces painted, take their places. And then Minnie Mouse wanders in. The tempo of the music changes and the dancers break into a boisterous dance. They are an enthusiastic lot and manage to twirl about in that confined space without bumping into each other.

As for the food, there are 8 vegetarian and 7 non vegetarian starters. And also chaats which include Bengal's pani puri aka puchkas.

Dahi vada

Hara bara kebab, from Punjab, is delicious, crisp outside and the inside is meltingly soft (is there even such a word?) The cajun spiced potato was another delicious starter, so also the Peshawari stuffed mushrooms and the grilled pineapple. Anari aloo- potatoes halves stuffed with khoa and anardhana had us asking for more.

Hara bara kebab, anari aloo and cajun spiced potatoes

From the selection of meat starters, our pick was the chapli kebab from Lucknow. Made of minced lamb and cooked on a tawa, it was soft and perfectly spiced.

Chapli kebab

As was kasundi chingri from Bengal. Threaded on skewers, the prawns were brought to the table for the final grilling. The sharpness of mustard enhanced the juiciness of the prawns. The kebab roll, also from Bengal was disappointing- the flavour of ajwain was overpowering and the filling was meagre. Tala gosht, a speciality of Lucknow was spicy but the meat was full of bones.  

Kasundi chingri and pineapple segments

The dinner buffet service started with Peshawari shorba. While quite flavourful, it was faintly bitter. There was a range of salads to try out, including kimchee!

The buffet counter was loaded with food as usual. The robust taste of the chole masala, reminded me of those served at roadside dhabas on the old Bombay highway. I loved the piquant flavour of the Lahore style lazeez subj saag.  And of course, the potol bharwan, a speciality of Bengal. Thick dal Khyber from Kabul was the perfect accompaniment to both rotis and rice. Another unusual dish was jinga posto- ridge gourd cooked in poppy seed masala.

My favourite was the creamy chingri malai curry. Subtle flavours indeed. It was the perfect accompaniment to the Mushirabadi biryani. I've always loved biryani at Barbeque Nation and this one was no exception. The rotis are perfect for mopping up the gravy of gosht Jahangiri kurma, another Lucknow speciality garnished with strips of ginger.  

Nayab murgh masala; gosht Jahangiri kurma; Musirabadi biriyani

Jinga posto, kosha potol,; lazeez subj saag, chole masala; plain rice, dal Khyber

Barbeque Nation's desserts are a celebration of enthusiasm rather than taste. The usual ones were featured- fresh fruit, dry brownies, slices of cream cakes, fruit jelly shots and this time, cham chams. The ganne ke rassi ki kheer flavoured with sugarcane juice was  mild and creamy. Invariably everyone ODs on gulab jamuns and ice cream!

The dessert table


And for those who can't end a meal without it, the paan wallah has set up his stall on the way out of the restaurant.

The festival is on till August 17. A meal for 2 would cost around Rs. 1800/. Don't miss this festival if North Indian style grills is something you love.


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