Mashaal brings Punjab's best food at pocket-friendly prices
When it comes to Indian cuisines, hearty Punjabi fare is undoubtedly among the most popular. While there hasn’t been a dearth of restaurants serving this cuisine in the city, the newly-opened Mashaal is sure to make a mark. Besides their flavourful dishes, their Bollywood theme gives you another reason to visit them.
Humming to Mohammad Rafi’s Gulabi Aankhen playing in the background, a quick scan of the place reveals a green mirrored-dupatta wrapped on a wooden ladder-like structure hanging from the roof, portraits of Bollywood throwback moments including childhood pictures of Karishma Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor and one of the many wooden tables that have swings instead of chairs. The comfortable seating guarantees enough privacy between tables and the service is prompt.
Even before I order my food, a bowl full of roasted papad and mint chutney arrive for me to savour. “Most of our dishes are tandoor-cooked and they take some amount of time. I don’t want to serve my customers already-made food. Neither do I want them to wait with a hungry stomach. So, we serve them our special papad,” shares Navdeep Singh, the 27-year-old founder of Mashaal.
First, comes the piping hot Murgh Shorba (chicken broth nourished in butter, garlic and cream). The soup is thick and pleasant with the perfect amount of pepper and spices.
While I’m completely engrossed in finishing off the Shorba, Dahi Kebab (smooth hung curd mixed with onions, chillies, cardamom and masala before being deeply fried) arrive with a fresh tomato carving. The kebabs are crispy and chaat masala sprinkled on top add to the burst of flavours. Meanwhile, Navdeep explains to me the significance behind the name, Mashaal. “Mashaal means fire. There’s no food without fire, and we are the fire,” he proudly says.
As I choose my main course, the song changes to Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle’s Chhod Do Aanchal Zamaana Kya Kahega. The music in the background goes well with the Punjabi fare and the décor makes me feel at home. Next up is a handi (wide-mouthed vessel) of Murgh Afghani (Tandoori chicken pan fried in a flavoured butter sauce), their signature dish in the non-vegetarian section.
The curry, though mildly spicy, is delicious and comes with a balloon-like topping of egg white and goes perfectly with both the Veg Pulao and the staple, butter naan. What’s a Punjabi meal without a glass of lassi? Despite the generous portions, we make space for Mashaal’s Sweet Lassi that is as good as it can be – thick, delicious and filling. To end with, Navdeep offers me a dry pan mixture, made with a secret mix of ingredients.
Price for two: Rs. 600. At Road No 2, Banjara Hills.
Open from 12 pm onwards. Details: 33194177
Pics: Vinay Madapu