Treats from the Tawa

From the streets and bylanes of Amritsar comes a sizzling spread of authentic and traditional Punjabi food, all hot from the tawa. The Amritsari Tawa Festival at Pashtun, formerly known as Khyber Chef, has cooks from Amritsar who are recreating old recipes with traditional masalas and ingredients that are perfect for this weather. "Over the centuries, the historical city of Amritsar has carved a place for itself as the culinary capital of Punjab. It has preserved traditional Punjabi cuisine over the years and evolved into a food lover's delight," says Sanjiv Verma of Pashtun.

Selecting a repertoire of meats and vegetables to create signature dishes on the tawa, Verma states that food cooked on the tawa retains its juices, colours and original taste. "They are using their original masalas and pastes to create a spread that's semi-dry and not runny, which goes well with Indian breads but not rice,'' adds Verma.

The festival menu has been designed to appease the taste buds of both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. For starters, Bhey Champ, kebabs or cutlets made of lotus stem, are a must try. The delicate flavours do not overpower the vegetable's taste. The soya chomp comes with a bit of onion-tomato gravy and can work as a main dish or starter. "The brain curry is a big hit here and is for those who like to eat a stronger flavour of meat. It's made very traditionally and goes very well with naan and paranthas,'' promises Verma, as he serves one of his favourites, keema kaleji. The minced meat, cooked slowly on the tawa, melts in the mouth, with the kaleji providing a succulent bite. The rahra mutton is the chef's speciality, as the mutton is cooked in a variety of spices and is tender, with an interesting taste of garlic. Cheese lovers can try the paneer bhurji with saat dane ki roti, a multigrain roti with seven grains.

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