Nostalgia through food is a bestselling idea these days. And at the moment,traditional tiffins top this list. Last month,the tourism ministry launched the Incredible Tiffin project as part of its Incredible India campaign,to attract foreigners and citizens alike. Now,with the same aim,the Taj Palace Hotel has launched a limited period Dabba Delights menu,providing a set four-course meal in six vegetarian and non-vegetarian variants.
To start with,there is a Punjabi-style dabba and a Lucknowi dabba each available in veg,non-veg and seafood versions. The best part: since its a pre-set meal,right from the starters to the desserts,one doesnt have to go through the elaborate,and sometimes painstaking,ritual of a la carte ordering.
We order a vegetarian Punjabi dabba and a non-veg Lucknowi version. While the Punjabi dabba serving starts with Tamatar Shorba,which is a little too tangy even for the Punjabi palate,the Bhutte,Mircha Ka Shorba (corn and capsicum shorba) accompanying the Lucknowi meal makes the cut. Subtly,it has all the flavours right.
Then comes the dabba,carrying four bowls. Though the Lucknowi dabba calls it Dal Miloni and the Punjabi dabba terms it Methi Moong Dal,both look and taste the same. The other dishes include
Paneer Tikka,Pindi Cholley,Malai Kofta,Boondi Raita and Mutter Wadi ka Pulao (in the Punjabi one),and Galouti Kebab,Lagan ka Murgh,Achari Baigan,Mix Veg Raita and Gosht Biryani (in the Lucknowi version).
The highlight: a live chapati counter that the chef brings next to your table,while he serves you phulkas straight from the tawa,and paranthas straight from the clay oven as many as you may ask for. The desserts are delightfully small portions of Kulfi and Shahi Tukda respectively a perfect foil to the rich and hearty meal has preceded.
The concept of dabbas,even though its just about repackaging the pre-existing menu items,is impressive. But it works well if you are a single diner or dining in twos,and prefer Indian cuisine. Otherwise,its better to go the a la carte way.