Fish Fry
Butter Chicken
Gulab Jamun

#KlaRestaurantWeek : The Great Indian Dhaba

By Malcolm Bigyemano

April 6, 2016

Dhaba: The Hindi word for a road side shop frequented by casual labourers and drivers looking for something filling, delicious and affordable. The Great Indian Dhaba on Wampewo Avenue is an expansion of this concept; a restaurant that borrows from India’s rich urban culture to create a unique take on the exported Indian culinary experience. As participants in the second round of Kampala Restaurant Week, The Great Indian Dhaba has prepared a menu of Indian favourites from crunchy starters to spongy desserts. Here is a sample of what they have to offer.

The Starter:

#KlaRestaurantWeek The Great Indian Dhaba

Pani Puri is a popular feature of street food in India and one of the starters on this menu.

Balls of wheat flour are deep fried into salty hollow shells (The Puri). A medley of minutely diced potatoes and onions (The pani) is scooped into a hole in each of the hollow balls as stuffing and the entire affair (Pani Puri) is wrapped up with a serving of sweet tamarind sauce on the side. You bite into the salty, crunchy globe and taste a savoury surprise you already knew was there and contrast that flavour with the sweetness of tamarind sauce for a delightful starter.

Balls of wheat flour are deep fried into salty hollow shells (The Puri). A medley of minutely diced potatoes and onions (The pani) is scooped into a hole in each of the hollow balls as stuffing and the entire affair (Pani Puri) is wrapped up with a serving of sweet tamarind sauce on the side. You bite into the salty, crunchy globe and taste a savoury surprise you already knew was there and contrast that flavour with the sweetness of tamarind sauce for a delightful starter.

Check out more reviews of the participating restaurants in this year’s #KlaRestaurantWeek

The sitting area with the words “Moochard du Dhaba” printed above the door is the hub from which the entire restaurant’s energy flows. It is an enclosure with large windows and bamboo accents.

Its walls are plastered with Bollywood posters from decades past featuring stars like Amitabh Bachan and, er, others who are not Amithab Bachan.

The stereo emits a diversity of Hindi songs (all of which I assume to be from Bollywood musicals) as you eat off stainless steel plates and drink out of stainless steel cups. The Great Indian Dhaba will not try to impress you with glamour, but it will charm you with unflinching honesty. And what of the rest of their food?

The Mains:

#KlaRestaurantWeek The Great Indian Dhaba 4

If there was a way to chart the best selling Indian dishes of all time,

I would put my money on the Butter Chicken coming in the Top 5.

It is the Sweet & Sour Pork of Indian cuisine. Keeping the same idea in mind, the Paneer Butter Masala swaps out the chicken for cottage cheese. Cottage cheese has a lot in common with feta, but is salty without as much bite and slightly spongy rather than brittle so that it interrupts the spicy flavour of butter masala before they are chewed into singularity. Every good curry needs a starch to soak it up and the Paneer Butter Masala is served with a side of butter naan (think thick, buttery, oven-baked chapatti).

Check out more reviews of the participating restaurants in this year’s #KlaRestaurantWeek

A dish that subverts the starch-and-sauce structure of many Indian meals is the Biryani, and in this particular case, Mutton Biryani.

Fun fact: “mutton” in India is sometimes used to refer to meat from a goat as well as a sheep.

Yeah. it’s complicated. Because it is spicy rice fried with meat, the comparisons of Biryani to Pilao are understandable. However, Biryani’s secret weapon (apart from the cocktail of spices) is plain yoghurt which is stirred into the dish as it cooks as well as served along side it, giving the rice moisture and by contrasting it, enhancing the flavour of the spicy chunks of mutton. Drizzle a little more yoghurt over it and enjoy the sensational contrast of temperatures and explosion of taste.

#KlaRestaurantWeek The Great Indian Dhaba Biryani

 

The Dessert:

Gulab Jamun is a “Say, what?” kind of dessert. That’s your reaction when you ask what is in it: balls of milk powder deep-fried in ghee (yes, ghee) and served soaked in a saucer of syrup. When you pick it up, the soft, spongy ball seems to sweat syrup, with drops rising to the surface and when you ingest it whole, you probably make a face. The fried outer membrane quickly gives way to a soft, gooey interior; sweet with hints of milk.

#KlaRestaurantWeek The Great Indian Dhaba Gulab JamunPhotography: Julius Caesar Kasujja

Check out more reviews of the participating restaurants in this year’s #KlaRestaurantWeek

 

 

 

 

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