Think Chandigarh, Indian cuisine and a place that has been a favourite with citizens for more than two decades, and the answer you're most likely to come up with is Khyber.
As of August 31, Khyber has formally been renamed as Pashtun, owing to the restaurant's emphasis on everything Afghani. To commemorate the same, the restaurant launched its nine-day food fest, Pathar Ke Kebab, which is on till September 8. HT City checked out the menu, and wasn't in the least bit disappointed.
Despite the place being the least bit 'fancy' and in need of a renovation, the restaurant offers everything that a kebab fan can ask for - a succulent centre, a crisp crust, innovation with flavour, and lasting warmth while you knock down those beers. You'd think they'd require some science to devise such a practical solution to every drinker's misery, but, the truth lies, yet again, in going back to the basics.
The kebabs at the fest are being served on stone plates, the same plates that they are cooked on; hence, the name of the festival. These plates, known as 'ankalo', have been a part of the Himachali tradition for centuries because of their quality to retain heat for a considerable amount of time.
Amongst kebabs, we tried out the Khajoori Paneer, Blueberry Chicken, Machali Hara Dhania Ka Kebab and Anardana Aloo. We say kudos for the innovation, and pulling it off so well. The Blueberry Chicken deserves a special mention - the balance between the sweet and savoury is just right.
The main course we tasted consisted of Tawa Vegetable, Paneer Dum Pasanda, Dal Pashtun and Tandoori Roti.
The tawa veggies remind you of the exact ones served at weddings; everyone's favourite, maa ki dal, was packed with that rustic flavour, as always; the paneer, however, was cooked in a white cashew-coconut gravy - not a personal favourite, but might suit some taste buds.
The experience failed to end on a sweet note, literally. We would have liked to wind up with a dessert like phirni, but unfortunately, the restaurant ran out of desserts by the time we were done with dinner.
Restaurant: Pashtun, SCO 333-334, Sector 35-B, Chandigarh
Overview: Since the restaurant has been there for over two decades, Pashtun is hard to miss. A five-minute drive from Sector 17 and a 15-minute drive from the airport. The restaurant also houses a bar, Wild West Pub. So, one can visit with family as well as friends.
Menu: The menu is a mix of north Indian and Afghani cuisines. If you visit during the fest, don't go in for the regular appetisers; opt for the stone kebabs instead.
Ambience: The restaurant's interiors are very basic. In fact, the place could do with a facelift.
Service: The waiters are dressed in uniforms. They are well informed, polite.
Dress code: Casual
HT City recommends: Blueberry Chicken
Cost of a meal for two:
Rs 1,200 (including tax and appetisers)
Hours of operation: 12 pm to 11 pm