Flavours of Chicken at the Punjab Grill

How many ways can you cook a chicken?

As a protein, chicken readily lends itself to almost all methods of cooking. Masterchef Vijay Sethi of Punjab Grill has curated an heirloom menu, "Flavours of Chicken" that presents chicken 9 ways, from soup to starter to main course. If you love chicken, this is one celebration that you need to try out.

Punjab Grill

The few times I've been to Phoenix MarketCity, the mall has been too crowded for comfort. But I've just discovered the best time to be there - on a Tuesday evening.

Aamras; kesar pisteywala lassi; mattha

The restaurant is a bright space, orange and cream-coloured upholstery give it a good vibe. Because there are no walls within, it gives the impression of being a large room (it probably is). Black table mats have printed golden motifs; the logo - the stylised head of a lion, is prominently displayed at the entrance, on the mats, on cocktail stirrers and even etched on the plates. Invited to review the new menu, we were asked first to select our drinks. We ordered half glasses of golden-hued Kesar Pisteywali lassi and Mattha - refreshing buttermilk with ginger, coriander and green chilli. We also sipped on a tangy Aamras which needed a little more of the masala. The lassi was delightful and came topped with a khoa peda.

Sliced onions & mint chutney; murgh shorba 

The Murgh Shorba was mildly flavoured and could have done with a little more barley. It's healthy, right? There were tiny bits of chicken in the broth and these 2 ingredients gave the broth a lovely texture but I couldn't understand what role the sliced beans had in the scheme of things.

From left: murgh ki chaampein; murgh dalcha tikka; tamarind tandoori wings; charga kukkad

Chef Sethi has given a slight twist to some of the classics - Tamarind Tandoori chicken wings is one of them. In a south-meet-north encounter, tamarind is used to give a hint of acidity to the tandoori masala; a bit more tamarind would have added oomph to the meat. Tender, boneless Murgh Dalcha Tikka was definitely a star, the paste of mashed lentil and spices covered the beautifully cooked meat in a velvety coat. Murgh Ki Chaampein was the best among the starters. It had been marinated in a perfect blend of spices and yoghurt and then baked in a tandoor. Far too often, meat cooked in the tandoor comes out charred but whoever was cooking these obviously had an eye on them and didn't let them burn. Not all the starters were cooked in the tandoor - Charga kukkad, a Lahore speciality, had been fried, the meat was succulent but bland.

Top: Murgh kofta; murgh roast fateh wal; churchur naan; aloo murgh ki tehri; raw mango chicken curry

Of the mains, Raw Mango Chicken Curry was unusual. We loved the slight sourness of raw mango and heat from green chillies, a delicious accompaniment to both naan and rice. The sole rice dish, Aloo Murgh ki Tehri is a layered pulao with chicken and baby potatoes. It too was light and mildly spiced; grated carrots gave the aromatic rice a little crunch. For me, it was a nice change from the usual biryani that's heavy on spices and oil.

Churchur naan; chicken and gravies

Chur Chur Naan (love the name) was stuffed with finely chopped cauliflower and apricots. The dough was a mix of semolina, rice and wheat flours and had been rolled out thick so as to hold the filling and was crisp when cooked. I did wonder if the apricots had been left out inadvertently.

Lime pickle-based Acharoska; Chakunder kanji masala. That Acharoska - mmm...
Phirni; litchi ki tehri

For dessert, we were asked to try Phirni and Litchi ki Tehri. Both were stunning but the litchi won hands down. The milk had been thickened and tasted like condensed milk - now who doesn't like condensed milk?

"Flavours of Chicken" at Punjab Grill is an interesting concept but needs a little tweaking to amp up the flavours. The menu will be served till the end of June and a meal for 2 is priced at 1700/++.


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