Punjabi By Nature II (Delhi, Jan 2020)


We enjoyed our buffet lunch at Made in Punjab at the start of our stay in Delhi but, as I said at the end of my review, we liked the Punjabi lunch we had the next week even more. That lunch was at Punjabi By Nature, the OG upscale new wave Punjabi restaurant. We last ate there in 2016 and that write-up has some background information on the restaurant and the larger phenomenon of the rise of fancier Punjabi restaurants in Delhi in the era of liberalization. I won’t go into all that again in this report—you can go read the first few paragraphs of the earlier one if you’re so interested. I am happy to be able to tell you, however, that this meal was as good as our previous, which is to say, it was very good indeed. Indeed having now eaten at most of the major contenders I would say that Punjabi by Nature may still be atop the category.

The physical menu has undergone a transformation from the one we saw in 2016—it bears marks of a 20th anniversary makeover. As far as I can make out, however, the bulk of what is inside it remains unchanged. This is all to the good. Yes, there’s a small plates section that I don’t recall having seen before that gestures at other regional dishes—or at least at Egg Kejriwal—but the heart of the menu is still comprised of Punjabi classics. And that is what we ordered.

We started with excellent dahi kabab—far superior to the version I was served at Handiwala on my previous trip. We also got orders of the chicken tikka, the mutton seekh kababs and the tandoori chicken. All were very good as well. From the non-veg mains section we got an order of the tawa chicken. This doesn’t look like much—indeed, you might say it looks a bit unappetizing—but it was very good indeed: sliced chicken cooked on a griddle in a spicy tomato sauce. From the veg mains section we got the bharwan alu: potatoes hollowed out and stuffed with a mix of paneer and spinach; all floating on a malai kofta’ish gravy. Quite good. To this we added the dal makhni (very good), the sarson ka saag with makki di rotti (a winter classic and always excellent), and an order of their chhole bhature (very good and served with an unfeasibly massive bhatura). Plus some excellent naans and roomali rotis to mop it all up with. To end, an order of gajar halwa—very good but not as good as the best home-made versions—and an order of very large and very good gulab jamun.

Take a look at the food below and scroll down to see how much it all cost etc.

All of the above came to just above Rs. 8800 or just about $130. That may seem like a lot in Delhi but keep in mind both that we were six adults and two children and also that it was enough food for eight adults. The real per head cost would be $15’ish. Service was friendly, present and adroit. All in all, a very good meal and another reminder that this genre of food may suffer in my estimation largely on account of how crappily it is usually reproduced in the US. I would happily eat at Punjabi By Nature on my next visit, and I might even get the butter chicken next time!

Alright, this may be my last Delhi report from this trip (there’s a possibility I might cobble together a chaat report later). My India trip reports will now move south, to Goa and then east, to Calcutta. Probably starting next week.

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