Authenticity of any regional cuisine is always debatable, especially in India, given the size of the country and movement of people over hundreds of years. Punjabi is probably the most popular regional cuisine in India and many restaurants claim theirs to be the most ‘authentic’. I am not qualified to judge the authenticity of any cuisine however I know the food is good when I have already planned my next visit before finishing my meal.
The Dream Kitchen (TDK) is a new fine dine restaurant that’s opened up near Magarpatta. A large Punjabi food menu with loads of meats (just as I like it) was the main attraction for me at this blogger’s table. They also serve Chinese however that was not on the agenda for the evening.
TDK is located at Konark Icon (next to Seasons Mall) on the 8th floor with a lovely view of the nearby areas. A full length glass window ensures even those sitting far from the windows get a glimpse outside. They have an outdoor section as well which is all set to open after the rains. The seating is done dhaba style – charpais and the decor included. Maybe a few bolsters and cushions will complete the setup!
Few of their best dishes were chosen for the night’s set menu. Here’s a rundown –
Chatpati Chaap – Chaap for me is synonymous with Mutton or Pork. While I’ve heard people relishing Soya Chaap, it’s not something I would’ve ever tried until I tried the ones at TDK. These ones did not taste like a veg dish and that won me over! The owner explained how these are fried first, then marinated and barbecued at the end before serving, leaving a charred flavour to enjoy. Work of art, I tell you!
Dahi De Sholay – not something I’d prefer but deserves full marks for the way the outer covering was kept crisp even though it was stuffed with dahi. Typically, the outer covering will turn soggy easily which wasn’t the case with this one. Vegetarians would definitely love this.
Murg Afghani Roll – A decent sized roll shaped to look like a tangdi kebab is mild in flavour and high on meat. The rumali roti wrap was soft and could hold the large filling without breaking away in my hand.
Lasooni Chicken Tikka – best of the starters for me. Perfect blend of masalas and garlic over well cooked chicken is a dish you cannot miss. The charred flavour is again rightly done here.
Boti Kabab – while this was not on the set menu, we insisted on trying out a mutton starter. This one comes with a slightly thick gravy to avoid the mutton pieces from drying out, which makes sense. The freshly ground spices are delightful
Rara Chicken – a typical mince based gravy which goes well with the Lachha parathas on offer. I would suggest you to order the boneless variety of this dish though
Bhuna Mutton – the meat was probably marinated overnight so you could taste the spices right down to the bone. I haven’t tasted this well cooked mutton, Punjabi style, in Pune in all these years
Dal Makhani – I melted after just 1 bite. Hands down the best Dal Makhani I’ve had in Pune. Even though I was full, I ended up ordering a small portion of steamed rice just to relish that combination
Amritsari Kulcha – stuffed with potatoes and paneer, this Kulcha can be best enjoyed with the Dal Makhani. TDK has a large variety of kulchas and naans on offer so ask the captain for recommendations
Naan Changezi – tried it for the first time. This naan comes loaded with dry druits – cashews, almonds and pistachios and is best enjoyed with vegetarian curries
Lachha Paratha – the tried and tested paratha that goes with any curry on their menu
I felt that the desserts felt short of expectations after the fantastic food we had.
Kesarwali Kheer – this kheer wasn’t too sweet however failed to tickle my taste buds
Shahi Tukda – I personally don’t enjoy this dish and this one didn’t change my perspective either 🙂
Gulab Jamun – the coconut shreds sprinkled on top spoilt the taste for me. Gulab Jamuns were soft and freshly made though
Butter Milk – rounded up the meal with this well made masala chaas! Makes up (almost) for the lack of alcohol at TDK.
While their food is amazing, there are definitely some points they can work on –
- Alcohol is not served at this restaurant and they haven’t made up their mind whether to do it in the future. With food this good, I can spend a good 3-4 hours eating and sipping on cold beers. I feel they will lose out on some customers due to this reason
- Seating is a bit off especially for tall people. The tables have angular legs that make it difficult to stretch out. With no back support for charpais and such an awesome range of food, it’s fair to assume a lot of people will want to stretch their legs
- Its a dhaba themed restaurant and warrants good Punjabi music (not the Bollywood or Honey Singh kinds). They did play this type of music for most part of the evening however slipping in some popular tracks disrupts the ambiance
- Why Chinese? I’m not sure which customers are going to visit TDK exclusively to eat Chinese food. Maybe their Chinese food needs a separate restaurant
Despite these niggling issues, they’ve done real justice to the mainstay of the restaurant – Punjabi food. I will stick my neck out to say that they have no direct competition in Pune on this front and can do really well. Pricing is moderate for a fine dine with most starters and mains ranging between ₹250-350 (excluding GST).
In conclusion, I feel that when a restaurant claims they are serving an ‘authentic’ regional cuisine, it’s the context that matters. The context here is that the owner is from Punjab and so are his chefs. They’ve grown up eating this food so its authentic for them. As a customer, I LOVE their food and have already planned to revisit soon to try out other dishes from the menu!