Punjabi food is not all about cashew and cream. So true. Being a Punjabi, no one knows that better than I do. But not many know and believe that to be true. Seeing Master Chef Jyoti Arora debunk that myth and serve simple, ghar ka lazeez khana, at the Rasoi, Lotus Café, JW Marriott Mumbai, was pure delight for the taste buds. She is a culinary magician. Dedicated, passionate and honest in her cooking.
Her flavours were authentic, I could vouch for that. The ingredients used, fresh and wholesome and the recipes straight from mom’s kitchen. No short cuts or reeking of commercialisation. There is clearly no compromise for Jyoti Arora.
The entire meal was not just a gastronomic journey for me, but one of pure nostalgia. As, having lost my mother, many years ago, I miss this kind of cooking. What was interesting was that she does not try too hard for a fancy presentation too. It is rustic and robust food that she serves. so confident is she of her cooking and the taste of the food that nothing else matters, I guess.
Each dish was painstakingly and lovingly prepared. But I shall not detail each of those masterpieces.
I am going to pick my three favourites, that made the meal special. Pede ki lassi, Gur ka halwa and Katlamae.
Pede ki lassi was no ordinary Lassi. Naturally, with the addition of the Peda aka, sweet or mithai made from khoya or mawa, that too from Amritsar. Thankfully it was not sickeningly sweet, yet delicious. It not only quenched one’s thirst but also appeased the taste buds. Heavy undoubtedly, but I was not complaining. Unforgettable. It was the perfect start to a memorable meal.
Katlamae or the Indian flatbread, typical of Amritsar. Karah Katlama is famous duo. The local halwa of Amritsar is generally eaten with this bread. Chef Jyoti’s version was luscious. Crispy, yet soft, the katlamae paired amazingly well with the halwa and chole. Reminded me of my childhood instantly.
The gur ka halwa instantly won my heart. Generously laced with ghee, it had the distinct flavour of gur or sugar cane jaggery and simply melt in the mouth. Someone who even does not enjoy sweets too much would be bowled over by this one.
What can I say of the experience? I was savouring Master Chef Jyoti’s meal for the first time. It was an evening I will not forget easily and my taste buds most certainly, never.