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Navleen Lakhi, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, November 07, 2012
Much to the delight of hospitable Punjabis, the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did, after all, have typical Punjabi food at a dhaba. But not Pal Dhaba, the much-touted venue for the Canadian PM's date with the local cuisine.


The Canadian premiere instead headed for Deluxe Dhaba in the same sector of Chandigarh, Sector 28, where special arrangements such as Bhangra performance apart from food and spruced up ambience awaited the delegation.

Jasvir Singh, cashier at Deluxe dhaba, said, "We got to know only at noon that he would be coming here. We prepared dinner for 45 people. No special dishes were made. Our restaurant is special itself, we served him the regular dishes on menu.”

All the waiters at Deluxe were traditionally dressed in kurta pajama teamed with an embroidered jacket. Manoj Rawat, who served the PM, said, “Dal, palak paneer, lemon chicken --- everything was served.”

“He ate kofta, yellow dal, and a little bit of non-veg. He said, ‘Punjabi food is good’,” shared Punjabi singer and actor Harbhajan Mann who dined with the Canadian PM on Wednesday amid tight security arrangements.

A 12-minute Bhangra performance by the students of SD College added to the Punjabi flavour while the PM savoured his food.

We had earlier rehearsed at Pal Dhaba but were later informed about the Canadian PM’s visit being cancelled there; however, we were told that he would visit a dhaba but the location was not disclosed, said Bachan Singh, the dholi, who choreographed the Bhangra sequence.

However, sources cited ‘security reasons’ behind the ‘change’ in the PM’s dhaba visit. They say his much-anticipated visit had sent media and locals in a tizzy creating unprecedented rush at Pal Dhaba.

At Deluxe Dhaba, though tight security arrangements were made, the crowd was markedly thin ahead of the PM’s ‘surprise’ visit.

Meanwhile, Pal dhaba, which was evidently more lit up and ready saw a lot of crowd but not the ‘special guests’. The preparation here was on for the past three-four days and even new crockery was put in place for the delegation.

A month back, a Canadian delegation, including two Punjabis, came here to eat. They are said to have give special details about Pal dhabha back home.

Amit Kumar, a paanwala who sits outside Pal dhaba, said, "I made special paans. I'm really disappointed."

There was also a buzz that union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal got the schedule changed as some of his relatives have stake in Deluxe dhaba.

Well, in what may look like Pal’s loss and Deluxe’s gain, Punjabi dhaba still remains a winner!