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How to ratchet up the spice at Punjabi Dhaba?

pub_bot Oct 21, 2006 05:57 PM

When I lived in Allston I was spoiled by my proximity to Rangoli (and to a lesser extent Indian Dhaba). But since I've moved to Inman Square, Punjabi Dhaba has of necessity become my go-to Indian place. Overall I've found it to be passable, if obviously inferior to the mighty Rangoli. For example, right now I'm eating a tikki chole (potato patty w/ chickpeas) that's quite good.

The main problem I have w/ Punjabi Dhaba, however is this -- no matter what I say when I order the food, either on the phone or in the restaurant, I cannot get them to make the food with even a modicum of heat. This includes my favorite dish, vindaloo, which should by nature be fairly spicy. Out of about seven or eight times I've eaten there thus far, only once have I been able to get something that met my desired level of spiciness (which, I should mention, is not alarmingly high, I'm sure there's a few people on this board who would consider it child's play). I know they are hearing me right when I order, because my receipt usually says "HOT" next to the dish ordered, so I'm sort of at a loss to explain this.

Has anyone else encountered this problem? I like the restaurant ok, but I'd like it a lot better if I could get back to my spicy Indian eating habits. Maybe in the future I'll try that place just down Cambridge St (can't remember the name, think it begins w/ an "H"). Any opinions on that one?

  1. t
    tamerlanenj Oct 26, 2006 05:44 PM

    Sounds like the chefs need to spend some time with the folks from India Quality!

    1. s
      Snowflake Oct 23, 2006 01:01 PM

      From Punjabi Dhaba I always order everything "extra extra hot" and only once when I added about 10 'extra's after it, did I receive the heat level desired.
      I still get take-out about twice a month from them and usually ask them to throw in some of the diced chilis to add to the heat.

      1. Aromatherapy Oct 23, 2006 12:54 AM

        Have had varying experiences with heat (none of them very recent), but they do have raw green chilis available. Not, I realize, a universal solution.

        1. f
          fenian Oct 22, 2006 02:47 PM

          I gave up on Punjabi Dhaba. It's bland no matter what you do. Haveli down the street isn't good either in my opinion.

          3 Replies
          1. re: fenian
            pub_bot Oct 23, 2006 05:57 PM

            I gotta say I'm leaning that way too. It's not just the heat (or lack thereof), but the food does seem bland in general. The question is, if not PD or Haveli, then where?

            1. re: pub_bot
              fenian Oct 25, 2006 08:11 PM

              Kebab Factory is maybe a half mile up Beacon from Punjabi Dhaba. I think it's great. I like almost everything on the menu, and if you order it Indian Hot it will be pretty hot. Try the vindaloo.

              1. re: fenian
                ScubaSteve Oct 26, 2006 12:49 PM

                second KF.

          2. tatamagouche Oct 21, 2006 09:31 PM

            I've lived here 10 years now, and Rangoli's still my fave. How do others feel--if you could only eat at 1 Indian restaurant in town, what would it be?

            3 Replies
            1. re: tatamagouche
              limster Oct 21, 2006 09:49 PM

              That's a tough call, it'll probably depend on what regional preference folks have, given the diversity of the Indian sub-continent. (See some of Howler's posts on the topic of Indian cuisine -- he's posted impassionately on this topic.) I'd probably pick Tamarind Bay as a compromise, given its fairly even execution across regions (and of dishes that may not be traditional but cooked with good fundamentals).

              1. re: tatamagouche
                littlelady Oct 21, 2006 10:25 PM

                i'd go with royal bengal in central square- there's no ambience to speak of but the food has that "homecooked"-ness that i love and the prices are reasonable.

                1. re: tatamagouche
                  horrible Oct 22, 2006 02:22 AM

                  It's not in the city, but my place would be Punjab in Arlington. Haven't been to Tamarind bay or Tanjore yet though.

                  When I don't feel like making the trip to Arlington, I usually end up at Royal Bengal. They're also one of the few lunch buffet's that has dishes with a little heat.

                2. limster Oct 21, 2006 09:20 PM

                  Punjabi food tends not to be as spicy, so that might be the reason. Vindaloo is a Goan dish, and it might just be an instance of the kitchen cooking outside its comfort zone. Wasn't sure where the kitchen from Rangoli came from, but the menu definitely had a Southern Indian presence, which might account for the heavier hand with heat.

                  The other place on Cambridge Street is Haveli -- I thought it was owned by the same guys as Punjabi Dhaba, but not 100% sure.

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