April 23, 2007

Indian food in Niagara - Punjabi Dhaba

Disclaimer: I have never been to India, so my background on Indian cuisine is based on food from Indian restaurants in New York and Connecticut.

Ok, who knew Niagara Falls has so many Indian restaurants and Indian tourists? Not me. We did not go to Niagara Falls thinking we'd end up eating Indian food there, but we did. We wanted to eat dinner before the Falls Illumination. My husband took a turn and there was Punjabi Dhaba Indian Restaurant!

Honestly though, we had low expectations. The place wasn't much to look at. There was no one to welcome us when we entered the restaurant. The tv had some bollywood movie going on. When someone finally noticed us and gave us the menus, I nearly balked at the prices. Yeah, I was thinking, "are they kidding? this place is a dump!" I could not, for the life of me, justify the prices. But since we were there, might as well. My husband wanted thali. They didn't have it that day, so he ordered chicken biryani. I opted for chicken tikka masala. We also ordered roti, vegetable samosas with mango lassi. The man who took our orders said they're out of samosas. Great. He offered alu tiki instead. I thought I agreed to it, but we never saw the shadow of the alu tiki. We waited for some time.

When the food finally arrived, it looked different from the usual biryani and tikka masala we order. The taste? FANTASTIC. Yeah, you read that right. It's in all caps. That's how fantastic it was. It was very flavorful. You can actually taste the different spices, instead of it having a generic taste. The chicken tikka masala had a yellow-orange color, instead of the dark orange tint I usually see. It wasn't all chicken - it had veggies, which I fully appreciated. The biryani? I usually slather raita on my biryani, but this one didn't need any. The mango lassi wasn't like a mango shake...thank goodness! My only complaint was the very greasy roti. I didn't complain about it because that's what napkins are for, right?

Verdict: If you ever find yourself in the area, go to Punjabi Dhaba. Try it. you won't regret it. A classic example of "don't judge a book by its cover". I was giving it two thumbs up while EATING. We finished everything. Indian food in Niagara Falls? Why not? As long as it's in Punjabi Dhaba.