A couple of weekends back, Mark and I got to experience a culinary journey to Punjab—not the actual Indian state, but in Chawlas2 at Jumeriah Lake Towers (JLT). :p Being in Chawlas2 is like stepping into Punjab, which is what the restaurant promises. I haven't been to India, so I can't really tell, but there's one thing that's definitely true—Mark and I enjoyed our dining experience at Chawlas2!
We were the only diners inside (the others were in the al fresco area), but the restaurant still felt lively with its contemporary industrial ambience, with bright lights and mostly black and white with a touch of vivid orange colors surrounding the place.
We were welcomed by Mr. Arvinder, the franchise owner, who also sat with us and shared a little history about Chawlas2. Originally started as a small family business in Ludhiana, Punjab, the restaurant was first named as Chawlas Chicken because of their famous dish—Cream Chicken.
They eventually became popular which made them decide to expand and venture into offering vegetarian dishes, changing the name to Chawlas2 (Chawlas Square) as they cater to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. With over 150 branches in India and overseas, Chawlas2 in JLT is their first branch here in the UAE.
“Born near the foot hill of the himalayas and stirred in punjab. The culinary experience of Chawlas2 evokes the beauty of punjab’s country side with its rich flavours and aromatic spices”.
Aside from my love for Arabic dishes, I also have a strong penchant for Indian food. I don't know but I notice how the Indian cuisine has a lot of similarities with Filipino cuisine, the former just being on the spicy side, so it's really not that hard to love. :)
They had us choose our drinks and were also asked about how spicy our palates can tolerate. Mr. Arvinder and his team then took care of the rest of our Punjabi feast, which reaped mostly praises from both Mark and I.
|Papadum, pickled onions, mint and yogurt dip, spicy tamarind dip||This Sweet Lassi was so good, I couldn't help but have a second round! :D|
A medley of tandoori came next for our appetizers. We specifically requested for the dishes to be made mildly spicy, which they obliged. The flavors were balanced with just a spicy kick at the end, which is just perfect for my not-so-brave palates. The chicken kabab and paneer were my favorites, while the mutton won Mark over.
Hariyali Paneer - marinated chunks of cottage cheese with freshly chopped mint leaves. This was Mark's least favorite, he just took a tiny bite, so I had it all to myself. :p I love everything cheesy so I enjoyed this one. The succulent paneer is made in house and tasted very fresh.
Fish Tikka - boneless chunks of kingfish with chef's special masala. Cooked in a tandoor, I loved how there was no fishy taste, which is a plus point.
Rashmi Kabab - marinated chicken in cream and cashew paste with egg coating. This one was good. A combination of nutty, creamy, and smokey flavors burst in my mouth in every bite.
|From top, clockwise: Tandoori Mutton Bhurra, Tangri Kabab, Rashmi Kabab, Haryali Paneer, Fish Tikka|
Tangri Kabab - chicken drumsticks stuffed with minced chicken and dry fruits. I was intrigued when Mr. Arvinder mentioned that it's stuffed thinking how in the world can it be done in drumsticks? But they actually pulled it off. The meaty part of the chicken was delicately sliced to make way for a flavorful blend of minced chicken and dry fruits.
Tandoori Mutton Bhurra - mutton coated with chef's special herbs and masala. Muttons tend to have that stench aftertaste, but I loved that there wasn't a hint of that with this one. The meat was surprisingly tender I didn't have a hard time eating it. Best way to eat it is with your bare hands, while sinking your teeth into the luscious meat. :D The pickled veggies were a perfect pair for this too.
Next came what kept Chawlas2 well-known through the years—the Cream Chicken.
Haven't had dinner yet, and here I am, dreaming of and drooling over this picture of Cream Chicken and Roomali Roti from @chawlas2uae! • Warm layers of thin soft bread dipped in specially concocted milk and cream sauce and scooping out those tender chicken chunks. Oh I want this now. I can eat this all day! 😍 • #PunjabiFood #IndianFood #Chawlas2 #onthetable
|Top-bottom, left-right: Sweet Lassi, Pudina Prantha, Plain Naan,|
Butter Chicken, Chicken Korma, Paneer Mushroom Masala, Sweet Lassi,
Also part of our mains were a variety of curries and breads:
Butter Chicken - marinated grilled chicken cooked in tomato butter based gravy. More on the tangy side because of the tomato, I love scooping out the delicate chicken chunks with the naan.
Chicken Korma - I'm not really well-versed with Indian food, all I know is that I have a number of favorite dishes, so I uttered "it's very similar to chicken korma" when asked how the Cream Chicken was. But apparently, they were different! While the Cream Chicken had milk and cream as base, the Chicken Korma had cream yogurt and nut paste, and was more on the salty side. The chicken was also braised in spiced sauce where the distinct herb taste comes from. Had to learn that the
Mutton Rara - diced mutton with minced meat in rich aromatic herbs and Chawlas2's spices. This one tasted very similar to our very own Caldereta, but richer and more piquant. Even it's mild spicy version was a bit strong for my palates.
Paneer Mushroom Masala - fresh cottage cheese cubes and mushroom cooked in tomato and masala gravy. A perfect treat for the vegetarians!
Yesterday's lunch was made of these authentic #Punjabi dishes from @chawlas2uae! 😍👌🏼 • There's something about #IndianFood that's delicate yet playful and is totally captivating! And apparently, Punjab is where all my favorite Indian dishes originated. Glad to learn something new everyday! 😁 • #PunjabiFood #onthetable #foodgrammerph
An Indian feast is not complete withouts breads. The Pudina Prantha had that similar crispy, flaky, layered, and chewy texture as with the Plain Naan, the only difference is that the former is flavored with mint.
And if you've been reading my blog and following me on Instagram, you'll know that I'm a sucker for Indian breads. They're light but very filling, doesn't give me that bloated feeling even if I stuff myself with it. :p
|Pudina Prantha and Plain Naan|
Indian food, or at least the ones that I've had, are usually on the oily side, especially the gravy dishes, but that wasn't the case with Chawlas2. The dishes may also look a little pale in color, but the more that you should be thankful as it just means that no artificial food colors were used. The colors naturally come from the fresh ingredients used.
There's also something about Indian food that's delicate yet playful and is totally captivating! And apparently, Punjab is where all my favorite dishes originated. Glad to have learned something new, thanks to Chawlas2! :D I highly recommend this restaurant for some Indian food fix!
Lake Level, Icon Tower 1
Cluster M, Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
+971 (0)4 514 9271
Table booking recommended.
Nearest Metro Stations: Jumeirah Lake Towers (Red Line)
We were guests at Chawlas2 and our meal was complimentary, but as always, this post is sincerely written and all views and opinions are my own.
All photos were taken with an iPhone 6S Plus.