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By JON DEAN
Thursday, July 12, 2012
»We Brits love Indian food: it’s well documented that the curry is in some ways our national dish. And most of us feel pretty confident in a Balti house, ordering a vindaloo and knowing what to expect.
But the food of India’s sub-continental neighbours Pakistan I knew a lot less. Until now.
Punjab 58 opened a year or so ago and remains one of the few restaurants in north London serving Pakistani fare.
The menu wasn’t entirely unfamiliar as the Punjab region includes part of India and rogan josh, jalfrezi and tikka were all represented.
But we were there for something new, so, after a couple of zingy pomegranate and basil daiquiri from the impressive cocktail list, we kicked off with a bihari boti kebab.
58 Stoke Newington Church Street
Tube: Manor House
Tel: 0207 254 5021
Mains: from £4.25
Wine: from £12.45
Disabled access: No
Children welcome: Yes
Ostensibly tender chunks of meat soaked in a traditional Punjabi marinade, the firm flesh came coated in a kind of soft pate, which was unexpected but very tasty – and fairly fiery.
Next we went for the kahari chicken – another Pakistani speciality (the kahari is a kind of wok). The sauce was a rich ruddy brown colour, with tomatoes, peppers and plenty of garlic and ginger, without the cardamon or clove scentedness some Indian dishes have.
The sauce was great but the chicken was on the dry side in both mains, though this was not true of the excellent chicken tikka we had to accompany.
We also had a lively sabzi mille jhooli – a medley of garden vegetables in a spicey, herby sauce.
After eating this with some gusto, along with a couple of pints, there was no room for the unusual desserts made with ingredients like carrots and milk.
Overall, something a bit, but not very, different to your traditional curry, cooked very well and inexpensively priced.
With an extensive cocktail and wine list, there is very little not to like about Punjab 58.