• The roadside dhabas have traditionally been associated with trucks and truck drivers, who patronised them as their home-away-from-home for food and rest to break their gruelling journeys. Gradually the ‘charpai’ roadside eateries began to get bigger and smarter, and highway travellers and tourists began to throng them in the hordes for lip-smacking food at a price easy on their pockets. The by now iconic restaurant brand ‘Dhaba’ (Estd 1986 inside The Claridges Hotel on Delhi’s famed Aurangzeb Road) took the concept to an all new level, adding a full-blown ‘Theka’ with signature Punjabi ‘tharras’ in actual ‘pauva’ bottles, apart from well stocked IMFL and imported liquor.

The iconic brand, with multi-city presence and a twisted phrase tagline “When it comes to traditional Indian food, the truck stops here!”, has, after years of efforts and persistence, been brought to Chandigarh’s Sector 7 by its franchise owner Puneet Gupta, a computer engineer from PEC Chandigarh and an MBA from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, who stumbled into the food business and has thrived in it for over two decades.

Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

“I have been trying to convince Azure Hospitality, the same folks who created Mamagoto and are now managing Dhaba brand, to bring the heart and soul of Punjabi food to Chandigarh. This first franchise ownership of the brand is the result of four to five years of hard negotiations and perseverance,” shared Puneet with LifeInChandigarh.com at the formal launch of the outlet in the famous back lane of showrooms on the Madhya Marg in Sector 7. Before Chandigarh, the brand already has presence in Delhi/NCR area (multiple outlets), Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai.

“Despite Chandigarh being the heart of Punjab, there was a vacuum of sorts in the Punjabi food fine dining space for people who would want to enjoy lip-smacking Punjabi food while not compromising on hygienic conditions, pleasing ambience and great service. There were very few places that one could think of for an outing with family, guests, friends or colleagues to gorge on Punjabi food.

“Here comes the iconic Dhaba, the essence and soul of which is Punjabi, but which now has a whole range of dishes from other regions available for indulgence. It is also the first Dhaba with a large dedicated space for a full-fledged Punjabi Theka, pouring tasteful Dhaba signature drinks, served with special appetizers all day,” gushed Puneet.

The Dhaba’s interiors are simple, rustic and extremely colourful with elements of quirkiness thrown in good measure. Apart from vintage Bollywood and Hollywood posters, lamp chandeliers, and truck art adorning the sun-kissed Theka area, body of an actual truck with tables laid out on it allow you a cozy corner in the Dhaba restaurant. So you have a big poster of Amitabh Bachchan on one side of the theka with his twisted dialogue reading “Hum jahan pe khareh ho jaate hain, WINE vahin se shuru hoti hai!” splashed on the other.

Other posters staring at visitors include those of ravishing beauties of yesteryears Marilyn Monroe and Madhubala. The cover of the Theka menu carries the picture of Dalip Kumar with a twisted line from a famous song reading “Peg Liya Toh Chakhna Kya!” Number plates of trucks cover the entire corridor wall leading to the restaurant and the Theka to add another element of the truck art.

The iconic restaurant offers legendary authentic Indian recipes in three categories – Tandoor, Tawa and Patila. Dhaba specialities under the tandoor section include Amritsari Kukkad, made with chicken marinated with curd and having a dominating smoky flavour of ginger and garlic, Tandoori Prawns, Highway Chicken Tikka, Amritsari Machhi and Murgh Malai Tikka. For the vegans, there is Lal Mirch Ka Paneer Tikka, Cottage Cheese marinated with pounded red chillies, yogurt and spices finished in the tandoor, and Dhaba Paneer Tikka.

Listed under Recipes Since 1986 in the Tawa section, are Tandoori Bhune Aloo, which is tandoor roasted baby potatoes, shallow fried and tossed with spices, onion and saunth chutney, and the traditional Veg Galouti and Mushroom Hara Pyaza. For the non-vegans, on offer are Galouti Kebabs, Amritsari Machhi and Tawa Mutton and Chicken made with succulent boneless cubes of marinated chicken cooked with onion, tomato and spices.

In the most loved Patila section, the Dhaba has signature Handi Murgh and Handi Gosht, the famous Mutton Curry, Balti Meat and Butter Chicken 1986. For the vegans, there is Lahsooni Palak, Paneer Makhan Masala and Kanastari Baingan Bharta, which is a signature preparation of eggplants cooked in tandoor, mashed and finished with royal cumin, tomato, ginger and green chilli. Dal Dhaba, Veg Handi and Amritsari Chole are age-old favourites from this section.

The outpost at Chandigarh comes with an all new Theka food menu to complement the signature Tharras, classic cocktails, Ghatta Ghatt shots and more. Accompanying these tasteful dishes, Dhaba’s Mock Tharras are just the refreshments you need. Traditional beverages include a section of Rangeela, Virgin Paan Mojito, Kaala Khatta, Ganne Ka Sa Ras, Rajdhani Jal Jeera, Meerut Ki Shikanji and Aam Panna.

The Dhaba also serves rich and devouring starters from Tandoori Malai Broccoli to Crackling Spinach Crispy Corn and Chataka Chinese Bhel.

LifeInChandigarh.com  by APR Media House is an enjoyable digital reading startup, which keeps you abreast of the latest meaningful happenings of interest to large sections of folks in Chandigarh tricity, and expats from the region. It has been promoted by a public spirited senior journalist and media consultant with a view to encourage good quality and healthy journalism, a dire need of the times.

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