“Experience a modern interpretation of Indian Cuisine.” Punjab Grill
We are fans of Indian cuisine, back in the UK we were regulars at our local curry house, in fact there was nothing better than a good old Indian takeaway and a bottle of plonk on a Saturday night. I was a bombay aloo, onion bajee, veggie korma with pilau rice and plain naan kind of girl, the other half liked his meat with heat and avoided the bread and creamy dishes.
Here in the UAE, the Indian restaurants we tend to visit are a tad more upscale and none more so than the new and very fabulous Punjab Grill located within the Venetian Village at the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal, Abu Dhabi.
Punjab Grill takes things up a level to any Indian’s I have ever experienced. Flavours, aromas, presentation, restaurant interior, location and exceptional service from manager Jocelyn Furtado and his team were all on point. It’s a culinary journey, where traditional and authentic food from the Punjab region of Northern India has been reworked with Western influences, quite simply it’s fancy Indian food and it’s outstanding.
I was invited to this upscale waterfront venue to experience a range of dishes from the extensive menu. Chef de Cuisine Sandeep Anand Ail devised a special tasting menu to suit our dietary requirements, vegetarian for me and anything and everything for my guest. Course after course of sample sized dishes arrived, each one bursting with incredible flavours and beautifully presented, literally art on a plate.
An enormous basket of poppadoms of all shapes, sizes, textures and flavours was accompanied with three dips, homemade mixed veggie pickle, coriander yogurt and masala hummus. Our first dishes of the night looked far too good to eat. Sliced watermelon paired with a tangy savoury beansprout chaat topped with watermelon foam and crispy baby spinach fritters. The other half enjoyed a Tawa seared scallop with red pepper chutney, saffron cauliflower fritters, spinach and lentil khichdi.
The small plates options were a Beetroot and Laban kebab and a crumb-fried spiced beetroot kebab with figs and pine nuts and peanut sauce. The veggie option was fried yoghurt dumpling with sweet mango centre served with citrus fruits and rocket. Saffron flavoured jumbo shrimps ’Zaffrani Jhinga’ followed cooked in the tandoor served with citrus fruits and rocket.
Smoked Tandoor dishes were Pungent Paneer Multani, Indian cottage cheese, with spiced tomato chutney and Malai Tikka, chicken breast with creamed cheese and aromatic. At this stage we were quite full and we hadn’t even got to the main or dessert courses. We took a short break to digest our food, saviour the view across Khor Al Maqta waterfront and enjoy our drinks. Drinks of Pinot Noir, a chilli based cocktail and palate cleansing cool mint sorbets were consumed.
After a quick tour of the restaurant by Jocelyn we were served a variety of dishes. Zaffrani Gucchi with stuffed Himalayan morels, baked and served with saffron sauce and Chaamp Tajdaar, Tandoori tender lamb chops marinated with house-special blend of spices. A creamy Butter Chicken and Malai Kofta, cottage cheese and minced vegetable dumplings. I have to be honest, I am not the biggest fan of paneer but the dumplings were tastier than the earlier Multani.
Main dishes were accompanied by a house special black lentil stew, Dal Makhani that had been simmered for fourteen hours. Crunchy healthy okra fries were served with a tandoori bread basket with Garlic naan, Butter Naan, Laccha Paratha, Missi Roti served alongside green pea pulao and long grained basmati pilaf with green peas.
I am a massive dessert fan (think we all know that) but even I was struggling to find room, a real treat as I’ve always previously found Indian desserts a little underwhelming. Malai Pista Kulfi is homemade frozen milk ice cream served in a honey-snap basket (much like a brandy snap) topped with salted caramel sauce, toasted pistachio and frozen berries. A taste and texture sensation that was beyond delicious!
The second dessert was Jalebi Churros, the traditional Indian mithai (sweet) deep-fried like Spanish churros and dunked in saffron syrup, assembled at our table by our attentive waiter Saurabh. Each churro was covered in chocolate sauce then condensed milk and sprinkled with toasted pistachio, almond flakes, desiccated coconut, finished with a dusting of dry rose petals, very sweet even for my sweet tooth!
Punjab Grill is a globally renowned Indian concept, created by Jiggs Kalra often referred to as the ‘Tsar of Indian Cuisine’ that’s widely touted as the crown jewel in the North Indian fine dining scene. The menu is inspired by traditional Pathani, Punjabi and Haryanvi cuisine combined with elements of modern western influences and ingredients.
This is Punjab Grill’s first foray into the Middle East dining scene, a little slice of Punjab cuisine brought to the capital. The company has eight other restaurants in various locations throughout the globe.
As well as the exquisite cuisine, the large restaurant has an indulgent interior with red-carpeted entrances. The palatial dining room is elegantly decorated in rich cream and gold, adorned with large glass chandeliers. The bar with its quirky fluffy fur bar stools and adjacent small lounge area are ideal for pre-dinner drinks and the large outdoor terrace is perfect for a warm evening. There is a separate well-stocked modern wine cellar adjacent to the bar offering a selection of fine wines.
Punjab Grill at Venetian Village is a superb setting whether it’s for an intimate date night, dinner with friends or somewhere special to take visitors. Great hospitality, stunning views and of course top notch food.
Location: Venetian Village located within the Ritz Carlton complex
Telephone: 02 449 9839
I was invited guest at this restaurant. All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2016. All rights reserved.