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Punjabi Tarrka

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Jun 1, 2004
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Punjabi Tarrka
by JASPREET NIJHER


Chandigarh, Punjab

It's been decades since J. Inder Singh Kalra - 'Jiggs Kalra' in culinary circles - set about satiating, tantalizing and appeasing palates, not just appetites. But what hasn't changed is the way his Butter Chicken, which is called ‘Chooza Makhani' at Jiggs' restaurant, and Dal Makhni taste.

‘‘We had established with a vision to serve authentic cuisine from the erstwhile Punjab Province (India and Pakistan). We innovate only on the traditional recipe ... no fusion fare for us,'' says Jiggs, a globally recognized food critic and columnist, and now, restaurateur.

Though his restaurant dishes out a host of innovative recipes like Salmon Tikka and Tandoori Duck, the Butter Chicken stays on top. ‘‘It was recently rated at the 4th position by CNN International as a must-try and to-die-for dish on our menu,'' he beams.

The effervescent gastronome, who champions authentic Punjabi cuisine, has opened his signature restaurant in Chandigarh, announcing more than just his arrival.

‘‘The Punjabi palate is extremely sophisticated owing to the fact that Punjabis are very well travelled. The people here prefer local cuisine and flavours over imports - as is the case for all culinary cultures,'' says Jiggs, talking of this region known as the land of foodies.

Despite his acceptance, food habits are changing with the times and well travelled people want to experience those same flavours back home, which is why western cuisines are also becoming popular, Jiggs cannot be convinced about the Punjabi changing his food loyalty.

‘‘Punjabis love Butter Chicken for its robust quality. Their love for rich, creamy tomato gravy is difficult to surpass, which is why this dish - in all its hues - has become a global favourite,'' says Zorawar Singh, the son of the famous restaurateur, who now looks after his dad's food business.

When it comes to catering to the epicurean sensibility, Jiggs painstakingly calls upon the original and most laborious recipes, his confession about finding his way into hearts.

‘‘Our Butter Chicken recipe is a sophisticated version. It is produced through an extremely difficult process that includes straining the tomato sauce through a conical strainer and muslin cloth multiple times till the desired texture and consistency is achieved. This process takes several hours. This is reason why our dish is considered as the new standard in North Indian cuisine,'' he adds.

While Jiggs celebrates the piquancy of being a Punjabi and exhibits it in his food, which he claims is never static, his opening here is a toast to this region that gave him all. ‘‘It was imperative that our restaurant, serving authentic Punjabi cuisine, be present in the region that gave birth to the cuisine,'' he adds.


[Courtesy: The Times of India]

July 10, 2010
 

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