Punjabi: Contemporary Indian Cuisine

One of the surprising things for me about coming to China was discovering that I love Indian food. I didn’t eat it growing up, as my parents just cooked Chinese food every day but I have grown to really appreciate a good curry during my years in Beijing and I have to give props to Gireesh Chowdhury, founder of Punjabi Indian restaurant on Lucky Street (across from Solana Shopping Center on Chaoyang West Road) for taking my curry obsession to the next level.

While I’ve been a loyal customer for years, I’m really excited for all the recent new developments. Gireesh has given the entire menu an overhaul and the result really goes to show that Punjabi is not your average Indian restaurant. Constantly making improvements and taking on a more contemporary presentation style with some pretty innovative recipes, Punjabi is on a league of its own when it comes to Indian cuisine in Beijing.

To do this new menu justice, we have been back four times over the course of a couple of weeks, each time to try out a smorgasbord of the new dishes. There are some on here that you definitely won’t see at other Indian restaurants around town and I also must say I love the sleek and stylish presentation!

Punjabi: Pappadams Set with Roasted Chickpea Wafers and Veggie Salsa (RMB 28)

Pappadams Set with Roasted Chickpea Wafers and Veggie Salsa (RMB 28)

Popadoms and their accouterments are a staple of Indian restaurant starters and I love this variation that showcases the presentation changes Punjabi has made. A classic starter with a design overhaul.

Punjabi: Seafood Soup with Tiger Prawn, Salmon & Mussel Soup with Mustard Seeds (RMB 52)

Seafood Soup with Tiger Prawn, Salmon & Mussel Soup with Mustard Seeds (RMB 52)

We also tried a couple of soups that I loved. The seafood soup serves a generous portion of seafood including a large chunk of salmon, gorgeous mussel and Tiger Prawn as well! The broth is like a mix between Thai and Indian with spices that are much lighter and more delicate than you might expect. Really lovely, this is going to be my choice soup this winter season!

Punjabi: Manchu Soup (Veggie or Chicken): Ginger and Garlic Soup (RMB 32)

Manchu Soup (Veggie or Chicken): Ginger and Garlic Soup (RMB 32)

Unlike the Seafood Soup, the Manchu soup will definitely not be as universally loved. It is really pungent and packed with chunky garlic and ginger. If like me you’re a fan of those two glorious spices, then this is going to hit all the right notes. Generally, this soup is my cure when I feel a cold coming on.

Punjabi: Salmon Tikka (4pcs): Tandoori Marinated Salmon Chunks (RMB 178)

Salmon Tikka (4pcs): Tandoori Marinated Salmon Chunks (RMB 178)

Next up came the Tikkas. Baked in the tandoori oven, it’s incredible how juicy the meat remains even with the outside charred slightly. The salmon tikka is definitely a winner, a lovely combo of flavours that I can highly recommend. Even if you are a big fan of salmon, I’d still recommend trying this dish as it’s so tender and not at all “fishy”.

Punjabi: Lamb Rack (3 or 6 pcs): Spicy Imported Ribs served with Potato Wedges & Tortilla Chips (RMB 108/188)

Lamb Rack (3 or 6 pcs): Spicy Imported Ribs served with Potato Wedges & Tortilla Chips (RMB 108/188)

This lamb rack was superb. Using imported New Zealand lamb, this was the best tikka I have had to date. The meat was so tender and it was a very generous portion!

Punjabi: Jumbo Tiger Prawns (4pcs): King Sized Australian Tiger Prawns with Cream & Mozzarella (RMB 168)

Jumbo Tiger Prawns (4pcs): King Sized Australian Tiger Prawns with Cream & Mozzarella (RMB 168)

We were curious how the prawn tikka would turn out, mainly due to the added cheese, but it works! I am generally of the mindset that cheese makes everything better so I wasn’t worried, but I can see how it could seem like an odd combo to put cream and Mozzarella over prawns. Again, super tender and juicy and amazing quality prawns being imported from Oz!

Punjabi: Gol Gappe (8 pcs): Mini Flour Puffs with Chickpeas, Potatoes in Mint Water (RMB 38)

Gol Gappe (8 pcs): Mini Flour Puffs with Chickpeas, Potatoes in Mint Water (RMB 38)

Because of it’s unique presentation, this is a dish we ordered literally because we were intrigued by the photo and wanted to see what it would be like.

Punjabi: Spicy 65 with Chicken or Lamb (RMB 78)

Spicy 65 with Chicken or Lamb (RMB 78)

So the photo of the dish you see here is not chicken or lamb – it’s actually made from potato. So this dish that we tasted isn’t technically on the menu but I think Gireesh likes to showcase just how spicy Indian cuisine can be by serving his friends one of the spiciest dishes on the menu. A little surprise by G meant killing all of my taste buds with one of these balls of fire. But thank goodness he brought a savior -the fresh homemade yoghurt to extinguish the fire from my burning mouth. Don’t be fooled by the innocent demeanor of this dish, only order it if you think you can handle the crazy, hot spice attack!

Punjabi: Raita: Cucumber/Veggies: Homemade Yoghurt with Cucumber or Veggie Salsa (RMB 38)

Raita with Cucumber/Veggies: Homemade Yoghurt with Cucumber/Veggie Salsa (RMB 38)

Punjabi: Tiger Prawn Curry with Australian Tiger Prawns in a Mild Onion & Coconut Curry (RMB 128)

Tiger Prawn Curry with Australian Tiger Prawns in a Mild Onion & Coconut Curry (RMB 128)

A new curry featuring premium tiger prawns from Australia, this curry is actually quite tame in terms of its spice level, but it’s full of juicy prawns and the curry flavor is lovely and family-friendly (kids will love it too)!

Punjabi: Eggplant Baingan Bharta: Roasted Eggplant & Veggies (RMB 58)

Eggplant Baingan Bharta: Roasted Eggplant & Veggies (RMB 58)

We also had a few staple dishes too. I basically can’t go to Punjabi without ordering a few favorites which includes this roasted eggplant dish, chicken tikka masala, and lamb saag wala with garlic naan and vegetable biryani to soak up all the gorgeous curry sauce goodness. These are all classic dishes that Punjabi has down to a T and goes to show that they pride in every dish that they serve whether they’re staple dishes or a new creation.

Punjabi: Malai Tikka Masala - Boneless BBQ'd Chicken in a Mild Creamy Cashew Gravy (RMB 72)

Malai Tikka Masala – Boneless BBQ’d Chicken in a Mild Creamy Cashew Gravy (RMB 72)

Punjabi: Mushroom Masala: Pan-Roasted Mushrooms in an Onion Gravy with Veggies (RMB 62)

Mushroom Masala: Pan-Roasted Mushrooms in an Onion Gravy with Veggies (RMB 62)

Punjabi: Gosht Saag Wala: Lamb with Chopped Spinach & Mustard Leaves (RMB 78)

Gosht Saag Wala: Lamb with Chopped Spinach & Mustard Leaves (RMB 78)

Punjabi: Garlic Naan: Traditional Naan with Garlic (RMB 18)

Garlic Naan: Traditional Naan with Garlic (RMB 18)

Punjabi: Vegetable Biryani: Slow-Cooked Basmati Rice with Saffron & Veggies (RMB 58)

Vegetable Biryani: Slow-Cooked Basmati Rice with Saffron & Veggies (RMB 58)

Punjabi: Masala Dosa Roll: Crepe Rolled with Potatoes or Cheese or Cauliflower (RMB 58)

Masala Dosa Roll: Crepe Rolled with Potatoes or Cheese or Cauliflower (RMB 58)

One of the things we tried that I have never tried before was a Dosa roll. It’s an Indian style crepe that comes with potato curry rolled inside and a spicy tomato-based dip for added flavor. This was really unique and much lighter than the traditional perception of Indian food! This is a nice alternative to just your staple naan bread for a tasty snack!

Punjabi: Coconut Milk Kheer: Vegan Coconut Milk with Rice Pudding (RMB 38)

Coconut Milk Kheer: Vegan Coconut Milk with Rice Pudding (RMB 38)

Always with room for dessert, we managed to taste a different dessert on each of our visits. While I’ve saved the best for last, each dessert option was really unique and you’ll definitely find something for everyone! First up, here is a smooth and gooey rice pudding with coconut milk and a little crispy fritter on top. Nothing to heavy, a sweet little finish to a curry feast!

Punjabi: Rasmalai: Cottage-Cheese in Saffron, Rosewater & Cardamom Milk (RMB 38)

Rasmalai: Cottage-Cheese in Saffron, Rosewater & Cardamom Milk (RMB 38)

Also quite creamy, this is cottage cheese in a light infusion of saffron, rosewater and cardamom. I generally stay away from anything with rosewater because I think it’s like eating perfume, but the rosewater here wasn’t too strong and overwhelming.

Punjabi: Malai Kulfi: Creamy Indian Ice Cream with Saffron & Almonds (RMB 38)

Malai Kulfi: Creamy Indian Ice Cream with Saffron & Almonds (RMB 38)

Basically ice cream on a stick – an ice cream popsicle if you will! Kids will love this so needless to say, we did too!

Punjabi: Gulab Jamun: Fried Cottage Cheese in Saffron and Sugar Syrup with Almonds (RMB 32)

Gulab Jamun: Fried Cottage Cheese in Saffron and Sugar Syrup with Almonds (RMB 32)

Hands down the winning dessert out of everything we tasted, this was not at all what it actually is. Fried cottage cheese that doesn’t look or taste or resemble cheese in any way, shape or form. More like a fried doughnut soaked in syrup. A really lovely doughy texture and not over-the-top sweet, this is what dessert dreams are made of.

Punjabi: Curry Feast!

The new menu along with Punjabi’s ever-popular Meatless Monday buffet (mostly vegan and also gluten-free options) should be more than enough reason to pique your interest. Gireesh has put together some really innovative and stand-out dishes and the service has been excellent every time, which is worth noting and something that doesn’t go under-appreciated. To sum up, Punjabi rules!

Punjabi Indian Restaurant Contact Details:

  • Address: Located on Lucky Street, opposite 21st Century Hotel, 朝阳公园路C-8号二层
  • Tel: 5867-0221/23
  • Email:  punjabibj@gmail.com
  • Restaurant Website: Click here.

 

About Kristen
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.

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