Nawab Asia figures very high on my list of Pune restaurants. No let me correct that. It figures among the top two on my list of Pune restaurants (North Indian & Awadhi cuisine). The quality of food served is so good, that they beat many other upscale, and five star, establishments hollow! I do not say this lightly. I speak from experience!
Some time mid-year, I visited Nawab Asia (Camp branch). Preet, as he always does, came over to my table to say, ‘Hi!’ (He has never failed to greet me thus in the nine years I have known and visited Nawab Asia). He requested that I go over to try the food at their new branch, at Balewadi High Street, when it opens its door. I promised him, I would! A couple of weeks ago, I received an invite for the new Nawab Asia branch, through #TeamFoodProwl, for an exclusive tasting event. Though, I am on a short sabbatical from official invites, I accepted this one and happily set off to keep my promise to Preet!
The first thing I noticed on entering Nawab Asia was how bright and well ventilated the interior was. It had high ceilings, tastefully selected chandeliers, a wall done up in varied squares of lattice grill, distressed, shabby-chic style furniture and a huge bright bar. All the elements were selected and arranged with a discerning eye; one could not help but appreciate the grace and beauty with which it all came together.
Nawab Asia has a very decent selection of liquor, cocktails and mocktails. We ordered a variety of drinks. The teetotallers tried the mocktails while the others opted for Sangrias and other cocktails. I heard no complaints around the table in regard to any of the drinks, in fact, I heard sighs going the satisfied ‘ummm’ way.
For starters we had Desi Nachos, Murgh Lapeta Kabab, Batter Fried Prawns (forgive me I cannot recollect the name), Surmai Tikka, Makhmali Seekh Kabab, Galauti Samosa, Nimboo Chicken, Dilliwalla Chilli Chicken, Orange Chicken Salad, Squid Kurkure and Peshawari Boti.
Each and every dish was cooked to perfection. The Desi Nachos had a unique twist to them. Instead of the authentic topping of refried beans, these nachos were smothered with a spicy, thick and very delicious blend of Dal Makhani; a smattering of Tomato Salsa and melted cheese. Oh, so different and oh, so yum!
The Murgh Lapeta Kabab, Batter Fried Prawns, Dilliwalla Chilli Chicken and Peshawari Boti were all fantastic dishes. Not good, not quite good, they were fantastic! My taste buds, though, did select a few favourites from the various appetizers served to us.
The Nimboo Chicken is a new addition to their menu; as is the Galauti Samosa. The Nimboo Chicken was introduced on the menu in December 2015 and has been an absolute rage with the Pune crowd. As for the Galauti Samosa, it is a new dish, for now, available only at their Balewadi outlet. Preet did mention that it is soon to be a part of the Camp branch also. The Nimboo Chicken is a creamy; melt in the mouth dish with prominent base notes of lime (Nimboo) and Ginger. The dish had a perfect hint of tang and gingery heat without being overpowering. On a previous visit to Nawab Asia, Preet had sent this dish to our table. I remember telling him the dish was a super hit with the crowd at our table. The reactions around the table this time around were exactly the same.
I have had Galauti Kebabs at Nawab Asia before, but this modern, innovative twist of serving it in a crisp ‘patti samosa’ case simply blew me away. I have a major weakness for Patti Samosas and an even bigger weakness for Galouti Kebabs. Can you imagine my joy at having these two babies team up together? These dishes are a MUST TRY! You can thank me later! ;)
The Makhmali Seekh Kebab is a vegetarian Kebab made from melt in the mouth Cottage Cheese. These were just as good as the Chowk Ki Tikki I had the last time I visited Nawab Asia. Both these kebabs, though vegetarian, brought unfettered joy to this carnivore’s heart! Vegetarians: Please do not miss out on these!
The Surmai Tikka was delicately spiced and cooked to a perfect texture. I was in ‘happy puppy’ mode because ever since Basa moved into our country, hardly any restaurant serves Surmai.
The other seafood starter they served us was Squid Kurkure. This was batter fried squid. The batter was similar to a Koliwada batter but definitely more delicate in flavour and texture. As for the squid, the only other place I have had such perfectly cooked squid is at home. A few places do get the texture right but this was way beyond ‘right’. We riled our host, Preet, and told him this was fake squid as no one could possible dish it out with such perfection. I could definitely make out that the squid used were baby squids. The tender, delicate rings were a clear give away and that is precisely why the texture was so good. I ardently request Nawab Asia to always use the same size of squids for this dish so that each and every patron who orders this gets to experience the same ‘wow’ moment as we did!
For our mains we ordered Tawa Prawns, Murgh Makhani, Lalla Mussa Dal and a basket of assorted Indian breads (Read: Naan, Garlic naan, Rotis etc). All the dishes were typically ‘Nawab’ and by that, I mean, spot on in taste as they have been for years.
In an era, where many restaurants intermittently slacken in quality of food served once they make a name for themselves; Nawab Asia stands apart by maintaining consistent perfection for a decade and more. I could not find fault with any dish. Not one!
For dessert we chose Paan Kulfi. If you have read my previous reviews you will recollect that I’m not a fan of Paan, but this Kulfi, luckily, did not have an overpowering flavour of Paan. It was just right which is why I reached out for a second bite and a third. (Hangs gluttonous head in shame :P )
A beautiful wintery afternoon spent in a bright, airy and elegant setting, with delicious food, a very kind and gracious host (Preet, thank you ever so much for your wonderful hospitality) and crazy foodies in tow; it does not get any better than this! With the kind of food and hospitality they offer, the lure of Nawab Asia is such that one cannot keep away for long. I know I shall be back for more!!
Address: Unit 5/6/7/8, Ground floor, Cummin Indian Office Complex, Balewadi High Street, Pune.
Tel: 020 65625566 / +91 9860640419
A few more photographs...