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Punjabi Dhaba= Swill

Never been a huge fan despite the love this Indian truck stop gets here but since I live in Inman Sq. I'll go once every couple of months. Not any more though, after tonight. Lets start at the counter where the cashier basically throws my receipt at me after crumpling it into a ball with my change. A unique approach to hospitality at least. I noticed too, that (if possible) this place is filthier than I remembered it and I'm not that picky about cleanliness and I was ordering takeout anyway. I've always found there food to be both watery and greasy at the same time (a pretty good trick) and tonight was no different. The Tikki Marsala was bland and greasy, warm not hot. The Aloo Gobi (cauliflower and potato) was cold-- like taken from the refrigerator cold. Tandori Roti was stale, an impressive trick for bread that's made to order. The Pakoras were simply inedible. This is simple, standard Indian food made without regard to any standards. Luckily I wasn't expecting much....

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Punjabi Dhaba
225 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

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    1. I too have never had a problem here (after perhaps 40 visits in three years), and certainly never from the staff, all of whom have been nice to me and as patient as one can be when you are slammed with customers. The man who is usually at the register even waves to me when he sees me walking by. I had a very good takeout meal on Friday, with Chicken Tikka Masala (it was hot and perhaps a little buttery, but still largely creamy), Keema Matar Masalewala (ground lamb with peas in a creamy sauce, less creamy than the Tikka), and fresh naan at 9:30PM. A couple times I've had naan that seems reheated but it's the exception. I usually stay there to eat and have never found it dirty. Did you ask them about your cold Aloo Gobi?

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      1. I haven't been back in a while, but I always thought this place was quite good for what it was: modest truckstop food in generous portions for short money, served on industrial compartmented stainless steel trays, with tinny Bollywood videos screeching from the cheap TVs.

        Sorry you had a bad experience. Gotta say, though: tikka masala tends to be the General Gaus Chicken of Indian food. Do recent visits from other folks who also like it indicate a general downhill trend?

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        10 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Actually, the prices have crept up over time and I know that Tikka Marsala is Gau-like, probably invented in UK during the 60's and Tikka means "small bits" in Hindu. I like the vibe there, like you say, Bollywood videos, crowded and hectic. My point is that this Indian "greasy spoon" has crossed the Rubicon into just greasy and indifferent.

          1. re: baldbert

            Thanks, baldbert, it's a useful report. I am always hopeful with restaurants that it's not a Rubicon, i.e., a one-way trip with no going back. Some places do get better again.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            1. re: baldbert

              The prices have definitely crept up over time. Sadness.

              1. re: djd

                It's still on the underside of 10 dollars, under 7 if you don't get the combinations and you still get rice with everything. The dosa are even cheaper and more than enough for a big lunch. I don't think the prices are out of line with the quantity, especially since they pack the takeout containers to the brim.

                As I said above, I have not noticed any drop off in quality and go often--just the occasional small complaint about naan that doesn't seem right off the tandoor. But my food was hot enough that I had a burn on the roof of my mouth to prove it...

                1. re: hckybg

                  Once again I come up against my mental price list, which is stuck in 1999. But seriously, when saag paneer goes up from $4.95 to... what is it now, $8.95?... in the span of five years, my expectations and grumpiness both tend to rise. Punjabi Dhaba's still great for the occasional Friday 10 p.m. binge, but I do feel the value/quality equation is no longer what it was.

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                  Punjabi Dhaba
                  225 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1. re: djd

                    I never really do the drunchies Chinese American thing, but I could see that with Punjabi Dhaba.

                    When they opened, I liked it for one hot minute. But there were always weird things, like I could never figure out how my bill got so large. I never liked the North Indian stuff, it was always "swilly" to me, obviously boxed curry powder swirled into to cream, not so great ingredients. The chatt(s), tikki chole, and uttapam were what I ordered. But they were frequently out of uttapam for some reason.

                    Since then the tables and chairs got stickier, the TV loud enough to drive away rats and the staff grumpier. As Edina from Ab Fab used to say, "Grind some beans for God's sake . . . . Would you not pull that face while you grind? I don't really want to drink a cup full of your anger!"

                    When I brought a Moroccan pal there I thought he might like it. He said "We would call this dog food back home."

                    Yea thumbs down.

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                    Punjabi Dhaba
                    225 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1. re: tatsu

                      Sadly I think you hit the nail precisely on the head.

              2. re: baldbert

                Are you sure you didn't go to Sicilian Dhaba by mistake?

                With that out of the way, I have to say that I've always found PD wildly inconsistent, swinging unpredictably from mediocre to awful.

                1. re: FoodDabbler

                  Actually, English is my third language. I'm Swiss, so its Swiss-German and French first. Despite the errors in my post, I think I hit the nail on the head, as you say.

                  1. re: baldbert

                    Didn't want to sound snotty. Marsala for masala is a common slip, but the two *are* quite different things. In any case, as you say, you've accurately identified flaws in PD.

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