Highway cuisine

Sitting comfortably in this Gurugram restaurant, you can have dhaba-style food with popular dishes from different Indian states

There was a time when highway dhabas had the same classic menu ­­— parathas, urad chana dal, yellow dal, kadhi, jeera alu, alu gobhi and a paneer bhurjee — all rounded-off with lassi or chai, depending on the season. But things have changed now, as the younger generation wants more than just the north Indian fare – like desi Chinese, local dishes and biryani.

In order to cater to the new demands, dhabas had no option but to introduce dishes in their menu that were not traditionally a part of it. And now Dhaba Estd 1986 has made an attempt to bring the taste of this evolved highway food to your plate. I am here at the invitation of the restaurant to taste ftheir Highway menu at their Cyberhub outlet.

We first had a refreshing Sanjhi Glassiyan (J249) with six amazing drinks — Sattu Sharbat from Bihar, one of the most indigenous protein sources of India; Sol Kadi, a refreshing Konkani drink with a light coconut base and a hint of kokum; Orange twist with carrot from Nagpur; a spicy version of Kawa from Kashmir; Malihabadi Aam Mojito, and a refreshing peach and coconut drink from Uttarakhand (see pic above).

Next, we travel to the Kashmir valley — Mutton Rogan Josh (J569) — cooked with anise seeds and dry ginger powder; and Dum Aloo Kashmiri (J399) made with mild yoghurt and red chilly. Both these dishes are competently made.

We make a journey next to Rajasthan with some delicious food. Dhoongar Lal Mans (J569), which had a wonderful smoky taste of cloves. Papad ki Sabzi (J399) was creamy because of the tomato and yoghurt gravy. But the Gatta curry (J399) was not so good because of the dense gattas and the overly brown curry.

Egg Biryani, which originated in Delhi but is now popular across India (J429; small), was flavourful and satiating. Going literally from Chandni Chowk to China, Veg Manchurian (J299) was perfect with a striking similarity to what Nelson Wang of China Garden had created. Another desi Indo-Tibetan innovation, Tandoori Chicken Momos (J249) were delicious as they were not doughy and thick as those made in Delhi University and so enjoyable to eat. But Veg Chowmein (Rs 199) is restrained compared to the one made in Chinese vans or halwais. I do miss the hit of black pepper and garam masala that make this dish so iconic.

The journey to Kolkata, however, is somewhat accident prone. Machher Jhol (J599) has no connection to the iconic Bengal fish curry and tasted more like a Punjabi dish. Baingan Bhaja (J349) did not have the proper texture due to the lack of enough sugar granules, and the chhena in Chhena Payesh (J249) was more like the ras of Ras Malai. This was the only shortcoming in an otherwise adventurous food journey.

Ratings (Out of 5)
Food: 3.5 | Ambience: 4.0 | Service: 4.0 | Value: 4.0 |
Overall: 4.0
Meal for two: J1400 | Alcohol: Yes | Credit Card: Yes | Wheel chair friendly: Yes
Address: Shop No. 111, 1st Floor, Cyber City, Behind RBS, DLF Phase 2, Gurugram, Haryana 122008 Tel: 085279 00779

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