Welcome to the Millennium city of India – Gurgaon. The name Gurgaon is derived from ‘Guru Gaon’ since Guru Dronacharya got this village as a gift from his royal disciples. The ‘Gaon’ referred to above, became a town over the ages & even today the old part of the city looks like any typical Indian small town. It is only about a decade back that the new city was built & this is visually different than any other city in the country with its numerous high-rises & swanky malls.
In spite of having a bombardment of Punjabi food on offer, surprisingly there is not one shop which serves an Amritsari macchi tikka as good as Makhan Fish shop in Amritsar or a Bhuna Baingan & Dal Makhani as good as Kesar Da Dhaba in the bylanes of old city of Amritsar. In case u have had the opportunity to taste the fantastic true blue Amritsari Kulcha on Lawrence Road, Amritsar, u wud hate to swallow down the breaded variety of kulcha that is served at most of the eateries in Gurgaon.
In fact, if u had been courageous to eat at Bajwa Ka Dhaba (opposite Highway King on Jaipur road), then u wud shudder at the thought of eating Punjabi in Gurgaon. I can’t resist telling the story of Bajwa ka dhaba – so here it goes………………………
We had read about this place in a book called ‘Highway on my plate’ by Rocky & Mayur. The book says ‘wander here no faint of heart’…… If u do not get put off by the sight of ‘semi nude truck drivers taking a shower’ as a background, you will surely remember this place. It’s a true blue Punjabi dhaba that is meant only for truck drivers & not for city dwellers like us. On our way back from Jaipur, we requested the driver of our Innova to stop by & he was frightened to take us there as the place is hardly visible from the road & forever covered by almost thirty plus trucks. Food is awesome, mindblowing, out of the world……and so on – each & every subzi that we had – spicy, robust, rustic, lipsmacking, with a character of its own. Food is served in open sheds & one has to sit on a khatia & eat from a patta!!!! Special mention needed for the daal & the soft & the fluffy freshly baked tandoori roti. Highway King is a disaster as compared to this.
When I told Mr. Bajwa that I had read the book & reached the Dhaba, he was almost in tears. I showed him the book & immediately he said ‘Can I buy it from u?’. I said ‘but u can buy from a bookstore’. He said ‘ have never been to a bookstore as I am iliterate’!!!!! I gifted him my copy of the book & bookmarked the page in which his Dhaba was mentioned – Else he wud not be able to find it again.
Moving to cuisine from our neighboring country China, I must first explain the two types of food available in Gurgaon. The first is authentic Chinese & the second is Chindian (Indianization of Chinese food). Manchurian is a common example of Chindian food – When I went to China years back, I asked for the famous Chinese dish Manchurian, to be told that they had never even heard of this. Later while reading a book called Rude Food by Vir Sanghvi, I came to know that Manchurian was invented in Mumbai by a Chinese origin Indian National hailing from Tangra in Kolkata who later opened a very successful Eatery in Delhi!!!! The Chinese of China have never even heard of it. The technique is basically to make koftas of meats & vegetables in the Indian way, deep fry them & then cook them in Chinese sauces. This form of food is so popular that last time I was in Boston I saw a restaurant with a board saying Indian Chinese Restaurant!!!
There are very few joints serving authentic or close to authentic Chinese cuisine. China club,