Food Mood: Punjabi Food Festival by Chef Jyoti Arora, Ibis Bengaluru Techpark Hotel

There have been two separate occasions when I’ve planned out a trip to Punjab, only to have the plans thwarted by something inane like, “ Who will make those reports when you are away?”. One of the biggest attractions for me to head to Punjab is to get my hands on some authentic Punjabi food, especially from a dhaba on the highway. I’ve heard from my Punjabi friends and acquaintances that what we popularly deem to be Punjabi food is not the real deal. Fortunately, in a case of ‘the mountain must come to Muhammed’, I was able to get my hands on some fine authentic Punjabi cuisine courtesy of Master Chef Contestant, Jyoti Arora.

Chef Jyoti Arora
 Chef Jyoti was in the city as a part of the Punjabi food festival at the Ibis Bengaluru Techpark Hotel. In an exclusive evening, I got to not only meet her, but spend a large part of dinner understanding how she came to become a chef and gain exposure to the vast knowledge that she had regarding food. The lavish spread consisted of Murgh Shorba, Amritsari Machhi, Tandoori bharwan aaloo, Dum aaloo and twenty other dishes, all made by Chef Jyoti.

We began the evening with a helping of two soups – the Murgh Shorba and the Bhunne hue gajar aur bhutte ka shorba. Readers of this blog would know my acute love for all things non-veg. However, the gajar and bhutte ka shorba took the lead by miles. Very soothing on the throat and quite light on the stomach, the taste of this shorba was something completely new to me. And I loved it. We kicked off the starters with the Tandoori bharwan aaloo. The flavours were quite muted and it felt like I was having potato jackets. Not something that made it to my favourites list for the evening. 

Gajar aur Bhutte ka shorba

Next up was an absolute classic from the north of India, the Dahi Kabab. This particular dish is on my all-time favourites and this particular dish was super. It had a nice crisp outer covering that reminded me of a nice rawa fish fry. The inside was nice cold curd which went excellent with the chutney that was served. The dish was very reminiscent of the first time I had it in Delhi and fell in love. This was followed by a lovely Amritsari Machhi and a Shammi Kabab. The fish was particularly excellent with the right amount of spice and the fish itself cooked to perfection.

Dahi Kabab

Amritsari Machhi

Shammi Kabab
We kicked of the main course with a helping of Sarson ka saag with the classic Makki di Roti. I’ve had the local variant of this dish and have not been very impressed. However, it turns out that the actual way it’s made is quite different from what the restaurants serve here. Normally the dish tasted more like the gravy of a paalak paneer without the paneer. The dish served by Chef Jyoti was a different taste altogether. With the taste of mustard being slightly more dominant, this was very light on the palate and went excellent with the roti. I was all set to call it a night and just eat this dish.
We moved on to some fabulous chicken curry, paneer butter masala (which was probably the only dish that made me feel a bit heavy), dum aaloo and more. 

Sarson ka Saag

Chicken Curry
What really blew my mind was the Maa ki Daal. This dish is more popular as the Daal Makhani, a very heavy dish which on any normal day would fill me up after 4-5 spoons.  What was served was miles apart in terms of taste from what my mind is used to as daal makhani. This was extremely light and had absolutely no cream whatsoever giving the actual lentils a chance to stand out in terms of taste. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I can safely say that I am now spoilt for taste and will detest the cream-laden heavy variants even more. I also took a tiny helping of the chicken pulao which was alright in taste, but I prefer my good old chettinad biryani.

Chicken Pulao
The evening closed with two excellent desserts – Kheer and Kulfi. Both of these were cooked the traditional way by letting the milk do all the work and not adding flavours to the same. The kheer had a very nice caramel taste from being cooked in a low flame for over six hours. The kulfi was an excellent end to the evening. Devoid of any crystals, the kulfi was made from milk which was converted into a khova first. With a light hint of baadam on top, I was a happy trooper that evening.

More than just the food, what really made the evening was the conversation and company of Chef Jyoti and Chef Kunal (Executive Chef at the Ibis) discussing food, food trends, history of food and much more. The Punjabi Food Festival is on till the 19th of June at the Ibis Hotel on outer ring road. Do check it out.