Delhi has been a foodie haven for centuries, with different dynasties contributing to a rich and diverse food culture. The food industry received a new impetus after the Partition of the country (read more about my work related to that here), when Punjabi migrants made Delhi their home. Some of these authentic Punjabi eateries camped at Pandara Road in Central Delhi; and are now permanent fixtures on the city’s food map.
There are four food giants located here offering a similar cuisine, and each one has a fixed loyal clientele. My husband’s family favours Pindi, so we always eat there. Inspired by the cuisine of Rawalpindi district (present-day Pakistan), it was established in 1948. It is the oldest of all four restaurants, and is the only one that serves my husband’s favourite dish, Kashmiri Kebab (boneless pieces of chicken marinated in Indian spices and egg).
I’ve been told that the restaurants’ structures have undergone a sea change; from being cheap drive-through’s to their current sit-down dining experience. The décor at Pindi is essentially Punjabi, attempting to be mod. The authentic pre-Partition photographs adorning the walls add real character. This restaurant was even featured in the New York Times in 1982. The restaurant serves Chinese food as well, but I’ve never tried this cuisine here.
Eight of us went for dinner on a Monday night. We had reserved ahead, but only a few tables were occupied. As always with Indian food, we shared a bunch of appetizers, two main courses and lots of different breads. Six drinks were ordered (Pindi does not serve alcohol).
Onions accompanied by various condiments were served at the beginning of the meal. A different kind of spicy achari onion was served as well. For appetizers, we ordered the Mutton Tikka (lamb), Tandoori Gobi (cauliflower), Kashmiri Kebab, Chicken Tikka (Boneless pieces of chicken marinated in yoghurt), and the Mutton Barra (mutton chaps marinated in Indian spices). Of these, my favourite was the Kashmiri kebab, with its succulent, soft flavor. The other appetizers were quite tasty too, including the ajwain-heavy tandoori gobi. The Mutton Barra’s were great for people who love a strong meat flavor.
For the main course, we had a full Butter Chicken (chicken cooked in tomato gravy with cream and butter, Mughal style), and a Kali Dal Tarka. This was accompanied by an assorted bread basket which included Khasta Roti, Roti Tandoori (round bread made with whole-wheat dough), Butter Naan, and Laccha Parathas (round bread made with fluffy dough). I enjoyed the Butter Chicken as it had a tasty tomato tanginess peeking through the bouquet of spices. However, my father felt the Butter Chicken was average in comparison to some of his favourites from other restaurants. The Dal was a tad disappointing.
We definitely over-ordered, as we had some dal and plenty of breads left over at the end of the night. Be prepared for the generous portion sizes! Overall, it was a satisfactory meal. The food was not outstanding, but the convenient location, reasonable price point and good service, ensured a memorable experience.
Price for 8 people (including non-alcoholic drinks): INR 5800 (works out to INR 725 per head)
Restaurant rating: 3.5/5