Of Punjabi (Indian) Dhabas (Roadside Restaurants)

Punjabi Dhabas are a class by themselves. These are road side restaurants located on various roads in India more predominately in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and UP. The food offered here is very delicious and sometimes even better than starred Hotels at a very economical cost (about one fifth of the cost at standard hotels). Some of the joints offer good local entertainment like live song and dance shows besides good food and cater to the needs of all starting from Truckers to luxury car owners. Their decoration is quite imaginative and includes besides catchy bill boards various cultural artifacts of the respective states. For example in a Dhaba named Haveli ( a small fortress) has old traditional utensils and clothings displayed which were used in Punjab villages. One of such Dhaba even had the cabin body of a Truck displayed on its roof.


The names of these dhabas are also very interesting. Popular Punjabi names like Haveli, Khana Khajana (Food Treasure), Tadka (Sauntering) Pyar Mohabat (Love & Love), Zaika (Taste) , Mirch-Masala (Chillies & Spices), Deluxe etc. Some dhabhas are named after their founder or famous Chef like “Puran Singh’s Chicken dhabha” (located in Ambala, Haryana). Those named after famous chefs also have their clones  like “Puran Singh’s Asli (real) Dhaba” or Puran Singh’s Purana (old) Dhabha. There would be six to seven such brands, no one knows which is the genuine one.

You get very good Veg and  Non-Veg spread like cottage cheese, chicken and meat (lamb)  dishes in these dhabas. Some of these offer very good fish like “Amritsari Machli” (Fish Amritsar style). There are various varieties of Chicken dishes like Tandoori, Curry, Butter etc. Most of these dhabhas have Wine and  Beer shops located next to them so that people could enjoy their meals with drinks (though this puts the driving at risk as some drivers are not careful and do indulge in drinking though prohibited for the drivers). Some of their catchy billboards have very interesting sayings like one had a picture of a chicken and read “Meet me anywhere but eat me here.” These restaurants cater to the needs of many motorists plying on these highways. Besides these are stops for rest room facilities (though not very clean) which are not otherwise available for very long stretches to the commuters.

These dhabhas besides being an important feature of the Indian culture are also a life line for the commuters.




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