Tuesday, 19 June 2012


It was a hot day and the evening only became hotter. The CFG Showcase was on this evening, and I had to reach KNK Road by 1930. As I crossed the tree covered Poes Garden, I smelt wet earth and then without a warning, it started pouring. A big respite from the simmering heat, it sure was.

As I entered Simar, a restaurant that claims to serve North West Frontier cuisine, I couldn't fail to observe the painstakingly done interiors. Shades of black, white and grey everywhere, right from the ceiling to the table mats, talked of a theme. I'd also identified black with charcoal cooking, that's a predominant part of North West Frontier Province cuisine.

I'd already googled for what constituted this type of cuisine, so I knew what to expect. But, I must warn you, it's best to get in here with the least expectation.

We were 5 veggies and 6 non vegetarians. I will be concentrating on the vegetarian spread in this post.

The kebabs started off on a decent note. The veg sheekh kebab had an overpowering taste of some spice, which we couldn't quite put our finger (or should we say tongue) on. NWF Cuisine usually uses minimal spice, but simmered for longer hours, that flavors the dish. That was clearly missing here. The mushroom filled with spinach kebab was mindblowing. Simply loved it to bits (literally).

And then we waited and waited and waited... and waited... ah there it was, the mango yoghurt. Tasted more like a mango milk shake to me. The sourness (is there a word like that?) of the yoghurt was super minimal. Was this supposed to be a palate cleanser? It did its job, but it also filled the tummy, if you weren't smart enough to drink it one sip at a time.

Further waiting ensued, and some of the girls had to get home. (Oh well they work too hard and had to take calls at 10 pm ;-) ) And then suddenly, like the rain that poured without a warning, the table was filled with baingan barta, paneer butter masala, lacha parantha, pudina parantha, (or were they rotis?) and peas pulao. 

Baingan bartha is one of my favorite dishes and sadly, this one was a let down. I'd expect the bartha to have a very smoky flavor, which is perhaps very distinct to these kind of dishes. Especially, the North West Frontier cuisine, is charcoaled over a longer duration and one would expect some amount of smokiness in the food. That was missing in the bartha. 

Paneer butter masala is a done to death dish that's now available in most Indian, Chinese, Tandoori, Multi-cuisine restaurants and I did see a little bit of butter on the dish. Paneer was succulent, and the gravy is nothing to rave about. 

Peas pulao was bland, the peas were not shelled from fresh pods. It appeared to be the store bought artificially colored frozen peas. (Simar - please correct me if I am wrong here, but all of us did notice this one)

And finally, when I almost finished my meal, the dal did arrive. I was expecting a dal bukhara - a very peshawari special with black lentils. But what came was a yellow colored salty dal.  On that note, this place should go easy on salt. There was too much salt in everything.

Oh and finally again, the raita also arrived. I'd finished my meal though. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the dessert, could someone ever go wrong with the gulab jamun and rabdi ! And when it arrived, I realized, yes people can go wrong ! 

Super sweet gulab jamun and some kind of crumbly textured rabdi, totally bland. (Aarti said the texture was like dosai maavu and I agree with her) I understand that the jamun and rabdi are to be eaten together, but the taste has to balance in itself, and not only as a combination.

As a final note, as the group departed, one thing that we all agree on - it's an interesting idea, but it's back to the drawing board (stealing these words from Sreehari :-)) for Simar, to re-design the menu and service. We hope to see great food coming out of this kitchen very soon ! 

As I headed back home, the rains sure were a welcome respite ! ;-)


  1. Will wait for the next review before trying ,SAMARKHAND in bangalore serve some terrific NWF cusine , including asking you to eat with your hands and they explain the rationale behind it to even foreigners...spoon and fork on demand only

    1. Ah cool, now that's called maintaining tradition. Will try Samarkhand next time I am there. Will talk more on OC :P

  2. deeeeps-ji
    few corrections
    1.the cuisine was not concentrated on NFW, but Punjabi. Simarjeet was explaining the same on our side, while you ladies where having some sweet talk :P
    2.the dal did come first, but to the non-veg side and that was with lesser salt
    3.Rabri is normally had with Jalebi and not with Jamuns, also Rabri may end up slightly grainy as its the top layer of continuously heated milk. but yes the Rabri was not great that day.
    Like the review and the speed! :)

    1. Sreehari saar - The explanations were hardly audible. If you have a large table, then the host / hostess needs to ensure everyone is able to hear what was said, or it has to repeated to the other side of the table.
      All food has to be equally distributed across the table. Service is lot left to be desired ! :(

      I also recall you and Ali presenting a PhD paper on digestive pills ;-) (not sure if it's relevant here ! :P )


Munch on....