Lashkara By Punjab Sweet House (Bandra, Mumbai)

As a foreigner and being perpetually fascinated by the city in which I reside, I often find myself pondering Bombay’s development over the last 30 years. Naturally many questions spring up in my inquisitive mind. If there’s one question that Punjab Sweet House so eloquently answers, it is “what would a restaurant in Bandra look like 30 years ago?”. After walking into the low ceiling attic of Punjab sweet house, one is struct by the outmoded ambience, whether it be the religious mosaics on the wall or the gaudy red waistcoats of the waiting staff. Nevertheless, there is something oddly charming about the whole thing.

The restaurant did look like it had been modernised since my last visit; I notice some new ad-hoc LED lighting and some polka green and brown dotted sofas on one side of the restaurant, however Punjab Sweet House still bears all the hallmarks of a by gone era. Thankfully, the restaurant is cleaner on my second visit, no creepy crawlies to be found lurking in the water glass tray in the middle of the dining room. It might seem horrific to an international audience but after a couple of years in India, I think I have endured just about all of the most reprimandable restaurant disasters you could imagine: mice in the ceiling (Moshe’s, Colaba), rats in the drinking area (BrewBot, Andheri), lice in the toilets (Soul Fry). Luckily, Punjab Sweet House passes a cursory visual inspection!

I ordered the Veg Thali. Naturally and without consultation or cognisance, I am served the higher priced Deluxe Thali (“The White Man’s Burden” to de-contextualise Kipling’s words). The dal makhani is well prepared and not excessively rich. The paneer makhani is very sweet, but balanced by the second paneer and veg dish which is pleasantly spicy. The paratha is soft, on the borderline of being undercooked, but a commendable compliment, along with the devilishly sweet but excellent, boondi raita. The lassi is so thick that the cheap straw buckles under its sheer viscosity, but this is how I have come to appreciate meethi lassi.

Perhaps the great comfort of eating at Punjabi Sweet House lies in its humility. You are literally up the ladder, far away from hullabaloo of Bandra’s social scene. On my second visit, there was only one other elderly couple in the far corner, for whom silence was clearly the only reprieve after 50 years of marriage. As such, you – the modest diner – are left free to relax and enjoy a simple North Indian meal in complete tranquillity.

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