Punjab beyond borders – a food pop up by home chef sherry malhotra (Bombay gymkhana, mumbai)

We had been to a pop up by home chef sherry malhotra at mustard & were blown over. So when we heard she is doing a pop up in Bombay gymkhana, we tagged on to a club member.

Here is a guest blog by Harinder singh pelia

In a NUtshell

‘Punjab beyond borders’ was a pop-up by home chef Sherry at the Bombay Gymkhana. A curated menu of home-style Punjabi cooking with doaba and himachali influences. Dishes served with amazing simplicity and nuance, would make anyone get nostalgic and hungry for more.

Address & other details: sherry malhotra

Meal for 2: ₹2000

Cuisine type : vegetarian & non vegetarian

Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.

Bill cannot be presented as it is in the name of the club member.

I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster

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Do you remember the last few scenes of Ratatouille. When the tough-as-hell critic comes to try food cooked by the new chef in town. Our protagonist is nervous, but cooks a simple dish of Ratatouille. When it hits the critic’s tongue, he instantly gets transported to the time when he was a little kid, and he waltzed into the kitchen, with a sniff of his mother’s Ratatouille.

Food has this ability to invoke nostalgia like not much else can. It beams you back to the time when you were a kid, you had just finished your homework, your mother is humming a tune while putting finishing touches to your dinner. And your entire family, sits together and enjoys a meal. What seemed ordinary then, is a meal and a time you yearn to get back to now. For the sheer simplicity of the time, the simplicity of the emotion and the simplicity of the meal.

The first bite of the wadi chawal, did a lot of that for me. The simplicity of the rice, chana and wadi concoction and the fragrance lent by the Desi ghee. It took me back to the time when I was in school, my mother would fix the same dish up, and we would probably all sit together and watch ‘Kasauti Zindagi Ki’ or the likes, while we wiped our plates clean.

It’s the simplest things, that are often the most memorable and the most impactful.

Sherry has been a regular at the pop-up circuit, and Yummraj (who’s recommendations one can blindly go ahead with) suggested that we check out her cooking on a Sunday afternoon at the Gymkhana.

The bhein kebab (lotus stem) was light and made with such nuance, that it melted in your mouth the moment it touched it.

The mutton adraki chaap did however, leave a little to be desired. One a tete-a-tete with the chef after the meal, she told us that the secret, of course, is in the sourcing of the lamb. And pre-marinating the lamb and getting it from the hills or even Pune, would practically be impossible. But yet, we weren’t complaining. Strong Flavors of whole spices and a hell of ginger, made it a great starter which I gulped down before I could completely appreciate the culinary aspects of it.

The standout main course would indeed be the mutton beliram, named after the royal cook of the kitchen or Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Succulent meat pieces in a light and well done base. We ordered it twice to satisfy ourselves.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the larger Sikh empire leaders, have greatly impacted the culinary language of the hills. Stop by at a highway eatery near Barog and ask for the humble meat chawal and you’ll experience a unique flavour that brings in the atmosphere of where it is cooked, wonderfully into the recipe.

The alubukhara koftas were very deftly done, which were surely better than the Patiala Shahi Machhali which left a lot to be desired.

Yummraj and others on the table were unanimous in the opinion that the Biryani was among the best that they’ve had while in Bombay. The stuffed mirchi (stuffed with what suspiciously tasted like soya Keema, not complaining though) added that extra zing to the dish.

After ordering pretty much the entire menu, and loosening our belts, we shared a round of rabri and Gur ka halwa.

The halwa with its lightness and right amount of sweetness, was a clear favourite. I remember going to the Gurudwara after tutions and would sometimes pray for a full marks in the next chemistry test. The marks didn’t come often, but the halwa (kadha prashaad) would always come. And that again was a memory invoked by the cooking.

What is food if not a way for us to access old memories and old laughs. Thank you Sherry and Bombay Gymkhana for helping me latch on to some old memories, while making some new ones. Thanks.

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