Bangkok Fine-Dining: Eclectic Indian

February 23, 2022

Five-course tasting menu at Bangkok's Punjab Grill

Executive Chef Bharath Bhat of Bangkok’s Punjab Grill is the adventurous sort seeking inspiration from flavours around the world. His latest five-course tasting menu has him exploring the world but through the lens of India.

For openers, Chef Bharath plates chaat: that quintessential tangy star of Indian street food with its amalgam of sweet and sour flavours, a host of Indian spices and black Himalayan salt. The base can be chopped fruits, potatoes, even boiled chickpeas or mung beans. Plus, crackers of some sort for crunch. But there’s always tamarind chutney for the sweet and sour notes and a mint-coriander-green chilli chutney for the heat. Sometimes there is yoghurt. It’s a dish utterly open to interpretation.

Bharath, though puts duck breast confit at the centre of his interpretation. The flesh diced and mixed with cranberries. An orange-cranberry sauce binds the dish together, replacing the usual tamarind chutney. Papadis or cumin flavoured crackers add texture. And yes, there are notes of Himalayan black salt in the spice mix used. No chaat is complete without it.

The next course is Jheenga Chimichurri: tiger prawns marinated in fresh herbs, served with wild berry chutney. The chimichurri is true to its Latin American origins but with chaat masala added. Chaat masala is a spice blend of dried mango powder, dried pomegranate seeds, cumin and black salt; the recipe varies with spices added or removed depending on the region of India or the cook’s mood).

Marinated and then grilled in the tandoor, the prawn is tender and juicy. The high heat of the tandoor effectively seals the juices in. The wild berries from Chiang Mai are turned into a sauce that mirrors the experience of tamarind chutney.

The Peri-Peri Chicken, though, has a direct Indian connection. Drawing inspiration from Goa’s Portuguese heritage, the chicken is marinated in a peri-peri blend with red bell pepper, onions, tomatoes and chillies – the vegetables first smoked in the tandoor. Accompanying the tandoor-grilled chicken is a straightforward yellow bell pepper and tomato relish.

The palate cleanser is a sorbet of passion fruit and cinnamon. Pretty.

The star of the evening is from Kerala – Lamb Pepper Roast, a main worth waiting for. The lamb is cooked with onions, tomatoes and a host of spices: black and green peppercorns, cumin, fennel and coriander. The distinctive heat comes from the black and green peppercorns. The curried lamb is served atop an onion uthappam – a spongy pancake made from fermented batter of rice and (husked urad) lentils. The perfect uthappam must be spongy, edging towards surface crispness and yet moist inside. This one nailed it. Perfect for sponging up the delicious pepper roast gravy.

Dessert is a cheesecake with a base of Parle G Biscuits – the biscuit India in unison dunks in its cup of chai. No, not chai tea. It’s never chai tea. Starbucks got it gloriously wrong. The cheesecake comes topped with strawberry pearls, and on the side is cardamom flavoured snow.

The five-course Tasting menu is priced at Bt 1,999 ++ per person. Punjab Grill Bangkok, Radisson Suites Bangkok Sukhumvit, Sukhumvit Soi 13; +662 645 4952; Open daily: 6pm to 11.30pm

Neetinder Dhillon
With over two and half decades in the media, The Front Row founder Neetinder Dhillon has plenty of stories to tell. As the former editor of several lifestyle, travel, inflight and B2B magazines, she has been in the front row keeping a close eye on news, trends and all things luxe. She subscribes to Pico Iyer’s concept of luxury: In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.

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