An Indian Buffet at Punjabi Kitchen

When I was pregnant with our eldest, I spent many lunch breaks gorging at the buffet at Guru India. I’d waddle back to the office and groan that I shouldn’t have eaten so much.

I hoped our children would grow up eating foods from all over the world and develop daring palates. We have added two girls to the family and meals have become more like a circus than an experience into global culinary traditions. (Big surprise, eh?!)

We still teach our children that trying new foods can be fun and rewarding. We pulled up to Punjabi Kitchen.

Inside, I was impressed by the cleanliness of the restaurant. Bold colors interspersed with metal sheeting give the interior a modern, but still, traditional feel. Walls of windows and simple, minimalist décor make the space feel huge and welcoming. Stopping by for Sunday brunch, we were quickly welcomed by a server and directed to a large table. I took the girls to the restroom (so clean!) and by the time we returned, the table was filled with drinks and a menu.

No kids’ menu? No problem!

Now, a word of advice: If you’re new to Indian food— go to the buffet. If your children are new to Indian food— go to the buffet. First, it’s a perfect way to explore a variety of meat and vegetarian dishes without the danger of being stuck with something you don’t like. Second, you can’t beat the price — the lunchtime all-you-can-eat buffet costs $8.99 for adults, $4.50 for children 5-12 and free for children 4 and under. It’s ideal for those little, picky eaters. Our youngest, 4, tried several of the dishes,  but she mostly ate naan and rice. She was happy and, since her meal was free, so were we! Although Punjabi Kitchen does not offer American food or a children’s menu, do not left that dissuade you from visiting.

If you visit during dinner hours, or simply want to order something that isn’t on the buffet, you’ll be astonished by the variety of foods. From several kinds of battered, fried Pakora appetizers to a Ghajrela, or carrot pudding, dessert, Punjabi Kitchen accommodates everyone from strict vegans and vegetarians to meat and seafood lovers. The menu describes the dishes in simple terms and, fear not, all dishes can be made in several levels of spiciness. Punjabi Kitchen also offers a variety of bottled craft beer although they do not serve wine or other alcohol.

A buffet of choices

Approaching the buffet, I grabbed the largest plate available and added rice to the center along with a couple pieces of naan. Naan is a round, flat bread baked on the interior side of a clay Tandoori oven. It has big, beautiful air bubbles that turn brown and crispy. Around the perimeter of the plate, I spooned fragrant, steaming scoops of four or five dishes. The day we visited, about 10 options were available at the buffet along with homemade yogurt (Raita), rice pudding and even a mint chutney.

Some of the dishes were familiar, like Chicken Tikka Masala, chicken sautéed with peppers, onions and spices in a creamy, tomato-based sauce. We also enjoyed Vegetable Korma (mixed vegetables in creamy sauce), Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower with onions and tomatoes) and Chana Masala (spiced garbanzo beans) and chicken curry. My daughter focused her energy on the beautifully red Tandoori Chicken. I think it’s quite possible that our tiny 6-year-old girl ate an entire chicken and still was asking for more.

Bursting bellies and smiles all around

Now here’s the thing about Indian food: although the ingredients are familiar, the spices and sauces make everyday ingredients come alive with bright colors and complex flavors. The tangy Tikka Masala sauce is a bold orange while Aloo Gobi turns four everyday veggies into vibrant yellow. The basic garbanzo beans swimming in a deep, brownish-red sauce. Consider ordering the smoothie-like Mango Lassi (also great for little ones!) or the rice pudding.

Overall, it’s hard to imagine a better dining experience than Punjabi Kitchen. As we left, stuffed and smiling, each of us had found a new, exciting dish that we couldn’t wait to eat again.

My oldest child summed it up perfectly, declaring, “I want to go back every week.”

All I could answer was, “Me, too.  Me, too.”

The Short Course

Kid-Friendly: Yes
Noise Level: Quiet to average
High Chairs and Boosters: Yes
Got Milk? Yes
Kids Menu: No (But go anyway!!!)
Reservations: Yes
Food Allergy Concerns:  Able to accommodate most allergies and dietary restrictions.  Ask your server for assistance.

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