bookalokal: Punjabi

We’ve become the go-to verifiers for bookalokal Indian meals, it seems. Which is fine by me. This time it was a little different, however, as after several south Indian feasts we were treated this time to North Indian cuisine. Much of this is actually familiar from restaurant menus, as many of the staples of your local curry house (samosas, tandoori, chicken tikka masala) come from the Punjab region. So on the one hand we had a pretty good idea what to expect from the meal, but on the other hand we were keen to see the difference in the home-made variety.

Charan & Viney (who jointly prepared the meal) welcomed us into their home in Vilvoorde and we sat in their comfortable living room for a pre-dinner chat and drink.

Untitled

Untitled

They immediately impressed us with an original and deliciously spicy tamarind cocktail filled with crispy chickpea balls.

Untitled

The same liquid was also spooned into hollowed-out crispy dumplings to pop whole into the mouth.

Untitled

We chatted about life in Brussels (they’ve been here for 30 years), their home town of Delhi, and, of course, food. Which just made us all the more hungry, so we headed over to the dining table. A selection of starters was served: vegetarian samosas, salad, poppadoms with two tasty sauces (tamarind and mint & coriander), and tandoori chicken drumsticks.

Untitled

It was all good: the samosas were spicier than usual and the chicken in particular was very succulent and not as dry as other tandoori chicken I’ve had in restaurants. I had two and was keen for a third but remembered to leave a little space for the main course.

Untitled

The main course was equally elaborate: mutton balls in gravy, paneer jalfrezi (fresh cheese and peppers), Punjabi lentil daal, chapati and basmati rice. Our hosts explained that they thought it best to present a selection of dishes rather than just the one plate, of which I’m all in favour as I like to try as many different things as possible. And they were all good, although my favourite was probably the paneer.

Untitled

Untitled

And you can’t go wrong with mango kulfi (ice cream) for dessert followed by a cup of hot chai.

Untitled

It was a very pleasant evening of good food and good company. And if you can’t make it for dinner Charan also organises cooking courses so you can learn to make this stuff for yourself.