It was my daughter’s hankering for palak paneer during the last phase of the movement control order (MCO) that led to our discovery of Punjab Express.
Having had the restaurant’s delicious fare delivered to our doorstep on several occasions, we wasted no time in visiting Punjab Express when life returned to normal.
Opened in September 2021 at the C180 commercial hub, Punjab Express is a boon for us Cheras folks who are partial to Northern Indian food.
The restaurant décor is simple and rustic. Sturdy wooden dining tables and chairs fill the dining space whilst framed artworks of Punjabi folk dancers and musicians add splashes of colour to its cream wallpaper-clad interior.
Our favourite appetiser whenever we patronise Punjab Express is Pani Puri (RM10.90). A popular Indian street snack, the puri balls are made from semolina-wheat dough discs, deep-fried until they puff up into crisp ping-pong size balls. The tops are cracked open, filled with spiced diced potato and gram flour sev (noodle-like crisps). Punjab Express serves theirs on top of shot glasses filled with sweetish tamarind and salty-spicy coriander dips.
To eat them, pour in a little of the two dips, according to your preference, then pop the whole ensemble into your mouth. We can’t get enough of the explosion of bold flavours hitting our taste buds when we munch on the puri balls.
The current biryani combo promotion with individual sets, ranging from RM15.90 to RM19.90 each, is great value for money. Our choice of Fish Biryani Combo consists of a substantial portion of biryani rice topped with fish curry, complemented by a side dish of raita (cucumber in yoghurt) and gulab jamun (deep-fried milk ball soaked in syrup). The fluffy lightly spiced rice together with the fish curry is a match made in spice heaven, stirring up our appetite for repeat helpings.
Equally notable is the assortment of Northern Indian breads such as Missi Roti, Garlic Naan and Cheese Naan. Made fresh to order, these go well with the wide variety of curries and tandoor specialities available.
The cornmeal-based Missi Roti – soft and slicked with ghee – makes a nice change from the usual chapati while the naans are just as good. The garlicky one is lighter in texture compared to the heavier cheese-filled version.
We alternate between eating the breads on their own and tearing them into pieces to enjoy them with the Mutton Rogan Josh (RM25.90), a rich lamb curry redolent with the alluring aroma and accents of cloves, cardamom and other spices. A mildly spicy Bengan Bharta (RM18.90) – mashed eggplant sautéed with onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and spices – is another recommended option.
Hot from the tandoor oven comes Tangdi Kebab (RM22.90), tender and juicy grilled chicken drumsticks served with mint chutney. This is better than the Fish Tikka (RM18.90) which I found a tad too soft and salty for my liking.
Instead of dessert, I prefer finishing my meal with the house-made Badam Milk (RM9). Served hot, this mild almond drink is comforting and satisfying, although die-hard dessert lovers may wish to settle for the more traditional sweet treat of gulab jamun.
Thanks to our country being a melting pot of cuisines, I’m so glad that we don’t have to go too far to enjoy the rich flavours of traditional Northern Indian fare.
Opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and food is at her own expense.
Punjab Express Restaurant
B-27-G, Jalan C180/1