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It's a highway in here


WITH THE city bursting at its seams, it has become impossible for families and couples to find a quiet place to dine and relax. So, the adventurous ones prefer to drive away from all the noise and clamour to restaurants on the outskirts. Plenty of eating places have sprung up on the outer ring road to cater to this crowd. One among them is The Dhaba, started by Ravi & Nina Enterprises, which already runs the famed Amaravathi restaurant in the city.

Situated on the Marathahalli Ring Road, this three-month-old joint provides authentic Punjabi fare. The Dhaba, which looks like a corporate office from the outside, greets the customer with a paan beeda shop at the entrance on the first floor. It is only when one steps inside that one gets the actual feel of a dhaba.

Designed by Vijay Kumar Reddy, CEO, Ravi & Nina Enterprises, the place spares no effort to live up to its name.

So, there are lanterns, a thatched roof, Bollywood posters, and Punjabi music. But that's not all. There is actually the front of a truck placed bang in the middle of the dining area to give it the feel of a dhaba on the highway!

The Dhaba, which can seat 116 people at a time, also serves liquor. The cooks have been brought from Delhi and Punjab. The kitchen has glass walls, and so, you can actually watch the chefs make magic with Punjabi spices. But while you wait for your food to arrive, you will not be treated to the aroma wafting from the kitchen. "It has an effective exhaust system that prevents any smoke formation in the kitchen area," explains P. Vincent, the Vice-President of Ravi and Nina Enterprises.

For starters, The Dhaba offers soups (tomato, palak, dal, and murg). These are priced between Rs. 35 and Rs. 40. The menu includes sabzis such as tandoori phool gobi, paneer shaslick, and so on, priced between Rs. 70 and Rs. 90.

For non-vegetarians, there is a wide spread in the chicken, fish, and mutton categories. Here, customers can choose from kebabs and tikkas, priced at Rs. 95 upwards.

There are also gravy items. For vegetarians, there are baigan ka bharta, shahi paneer, kadai paneer, and mutter paneer among others. These are priced at Rs. 60 upwards.

These can be savoured with rotis, naans, parathas (stuffed or plain), and rumali rotis. Plain and flavoured rice are the other options. The chef, Umeet Singh, recommends karela kabana. This, unlike what the name suggests, has nothing to do with bitter gourd, but is chicken breast stuffed with minced meat and shaped like a karela. He says with pride that he makes all the spices himself, since the ready-made ones "alter the taste". He, in fact, prefers to hand-pound them in a pestle.

The food here is not spicy, but rich with ghee and butter. So, if you are calorie-conscious, then you should simply stick to rotis and dal fry.

There is another warning: if your are a Punjabi who eats sarson da saag te makki di roti, baingan ka bharta, alu mutter and the like on a regular basis, then there is nothing new for you to discover here. But if North Indian food holds an "exotic" value for you, this is the place you should head for.

Another feature of the place is that the food is "not altered" to suit a customer's specific preferences. So, if you want something that sets your tongue on fire, then the chef will recommend certain items that are specially meant to cater to such tastes.

The dessert section offers a sinfully-rich gajar ka halwa and moong dal halwa. Of course, there are also ice-creams and kheers.

The Dhaba is open between noon and 3.30 p.m. and between 7 p.m. and midnight.

You can contact The Dhaba on 56950701.

* * *

Ambience: rustic

Service: good

Wallet factor: Vegetarian meal for two costs Rs. 200 upwards. Non-vegetarian meal for two costs Rs. 250 upwards.

Specials: kebabs, tandoori items, and desserts.

SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.

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