Panditji ka Dhaba - Sadar Bazar Gurgaon
"You can ask anyone in Gurgaon. Everyone knows about me," informs Panditji, the owner and Chef at Pandjitji ka Dhaba. It is just a small one room eatery divided into two halves, one where food is cooked, other to sit and eat. But it has that old world charm to it that makes it stand out to millions of other small time eateries.
Founded more than 50 years ago, Pandjit ka Dhaba is situated at a corner of the Sadar Bazar in Gurgaon, one of the oldest markets in the city. There is no special hoarding, no headboards to point it out.Till date the food is cooked on fire lit by wood. Cooking food over wood is a gone trend now. No one does that in cities especially. But that is still alive and well at this place. It is one of the things that set them apart. Other than the special flavour it brings on to the food.
I went there on a very hot and humid afternoon for lunch, all alone knowing well, the heat won't be tolerated by my friends. My generation has been air conditioned now. We drive AC cars, work in AC offices come home to AC bedrooms. To sit and eat in small room, where kilos of wood is burning hardly 10 feet from you, they would have killed me. But I like good food. I find it all charming. I feel one should step out of their comfort zone now and then and experience things extraordinary.
I was fortunate enough to get a table all by myself. A boy came up and offered me a glass of water. As my instincts are, every time I go out to eat, I look for source of water. In this case it came from large earthen pots. So old school I liked it. The service is excellent, I finished half glass of water and the guy came back to refill as if he is just fresh from a hotel management institute.
Time to eat. Since I am a snob, I made a show of staring at the menu on the wall. To be honest, it had just 5-6 items, lemon - 5 bucks, dal vegetable - 50 rupees, roti - 5 or 7 bucks. It was not lost on Panditji who informed, "food here is same for anyone and everyone". Simple. So I was spared of choice to choose, as on menu that day was kadi and dal. Did I tell you they use only Desi Ghee at Panditji ka Dhaba? yeah. So it had a tadka like mom does in her kitchen and at first you are not able to see the dal for the layer of ghee over it. Add to it, I had already asked for roti with ghee on it. I haven't eaten so much ghee in a lot of time.
But it was nice. This is one place I would say everyone should try. This is how our ancestors cooked and ate. For all the fancy foods we love eating day in and out, their is something special in simple basic food. Especially with a passionate man like Panditji at helm supervising each and every plate going out of kitchen and aware of every customer at his place.