As a kid, I loved visiting dhabas with charpais. After all, that’s the true Punjabi way of sitting with your legs crossed and digging into dal makhani or butter chicken with hot rotis. While there are restaurants in Mumbai offering this traditional ambience, it just stops there. But there’s a new dhaba in town that elevates your experience with the same seating set-up along with quirky interiors and authentic North-Indian food with a contemporary upgrade. From the co-owners of Mini Punjab comes a fun and colourful dhaba, Turban Tales, re-launched in a new avatar, almost four years after shutting down in the pandemic.
Pop Of Colour
Located strategically in Powai just opposite the lake, Turban Tales is a great space for you to hang out with not just family but also a group of friends. The restaurant has always maintained a dhaba-style aesthetic with colourful interiors but this time, they’ve taken it a notch higher. Designed by Madhuraag Kaur and Amritpal Singh, the interiors feature an interesting mix of vibrant elements–walls and stools made of kadhais, tables laid out on top of a tractor, a swing at the entrance that makes for a cool photo op, multi-coloured phirkis (paper fans) on every table, and of course, charpais.
Raising The Bar
Turban Tales is a North Indian restaurant. Of course, there’s an expansive drinks menu. It aims to attract the crowd with its interestingly conceptualised cocktails. The half-Punjabi in me couldn’t resist opting for the drink named Patiala Iced Tea, a twist on the classic LIIT. It comes in three variants, and we chose the passionfruit and pomegranate one. Even the way this drink is served is fascinating–it comes in a tall, steel lassi glass in two sizes, 600 and 1200 ml. The latter can be shared among friends or if you’re someone who’s not so faint-hearted, go ahead and enjoy this drink all by yourself. Other signature cocktails that are must-tries are the Mango Jalapeño Margarita (Tequila), Sweet Drink Of Mine (Gin), Chuski Rita/Sharabi Kala Khatta, and Khatta Meetha Julep (Whiskey).
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Twist On The Traditional
The food menu features an array of options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. But it’s the contemporary twist on traditional dishes that caught my attention the most. Then again, I wasn’t surprised. After all, the kitchen is known to introduce many firsts even when they were open pre-pandemic. Case in point–a full-fledged Jamun menu featuring savoury and sweet dishes in early 2017.
While the food sticks to the signature Punjabi dishes, it adds in an element of fun. For instance, basic roasted peanuts get substituted by Kolkata Style Jhal Muri and Cheesy Cheetos Bhel as an accompaniment to your drinks. A butter chicken/paneer is transformed into a makhani fondue where chicken or paneer can be dipped into the pot of hot, melted gravy and devoured. Turban Tales is quick to get on Instagram food trends–the butter board has already made its way to the restaurant. Mysore Bhaji Puchka Shots with Kokum Rasam is a spin on the street snack Pani puri, in which the spicy and tangy coriander water is replaced by a kokum rasam. This dish is best enjoyed when you have the puri first and then take a sip of the rasam.
Other unmissables include Mutton Keema Kulcha, Amritsari Lollipop, Prawn Ghee Roast Bao, Chicken Stuffed Cheese Supreme and Chicken Khilji Kebab (what impressed me was the outer covering filled with dry fruits on this dish).
From the mains, must-try recommendations include Mutton Biryani with Smoked Burhani Raita, Kashmiri Dahi Bhindi with Kesari Warqi Paratha, Bengali Kosha Mangsho with Green Pea Luchi and Bihari Mutton Champaran.
You can’t leave Turban Tales without trying at least one dessert. My top pick is the Gulab Jamun Sizzler as it isn’t too sweet and is balanced well. If I had to pick another, it would be the Paan Ice Cream with Apple Murabba. This is a great dessert if you’re in the mood for Paan at the end of the meal as the ice cream perfectly captures its flavours. The Ghevar Cheesecake is also a recommended dessert.
Turban Tales is a cosy and carefree space where you can enjoy some unique cocktails over comforting Indian food. Oh, and did I mention there’s a dance floor where you can break into Bhangra once your favourite Punjabi tunes kick in?