Sasmita P Writer, the newest chef on board at Sheraton Park, shares a few pointers on Punjabi cuisine
Dahi, pudina and wheat — these are three staple ingredients in Punjabi cuisine, says chef Sasmita P Writer, as she elaborates on the festival that starts today at The Residency. “So you must be from Punjab?” we enquire, and she clarifies, “Delhi.” After graduating from IHM, Writer joined the ITC group and has worked at several of their properties across the country; more recently, the opening team of Royal Vega at Grand Chola.
“Punjabi food is usually quick, not very elaborate, but still well balanced,” she shares. An example is the tandoori Shimla mirch — ‘bunaoed’ (slow cooked) potato and cashewnut laced with raisins, stuffed in a capsicum and cooked in a tandoor. Another no fuss dish is the lasooni murgh, delicately flavoured with garlic and curd — no more, no less. For some everyday Punjabi fare, the chef points to the dal makhni and layered pudina paratha sprinkled with black salt that makes its presence felt, though not overpoweringly so.
Even after the pulao and ra ra ghosht which has tender mutton chops and kheema in a tangy, thick gravy, we’re left feeling capable of doing the bhangra. But dessert changes all that. Makhana (puffed lotus seeds) are a delicacy in Punjab, we’re told. Slow cooked in thickened milk, the makhana kheer followed by a classic phirni in a matka, seals the deal and we’re ready for bed.
But there’s just one thing that doesn’t add up. Considering she is half Odiya and half Bengali (married to a Parsi), why did Writer not start with, perhaps a Bengali showcase? “But that’s coming next month, when the whole of Sheraton Park will be showcasing seafood,” she beams. Now we can’t wait for her signature Kalinga machili that has won the hearts of some of the top chefs who’ve tasted it.
The Punjabi buffet is priced at Rs 1,350 plus tax and is available till January 26. Don’t miss the thandai and pudina lassi while there. Details: 24994101
- Ryan Peppin