With delicacies like Kabab-e-Bannu, Raan Aleeshan, Pather Kabab, Qeema Naan, Shehad-e-Jaam, Sheer-e-Murmuri , The Frontier at Ashok Hotel, Chanakyapuri, pays a fitting tribute to the cuisine of the nomadic tribes of North West Frontier of Afghanistan, Pakistan and West Punjab. Our review was studded with a whole lot of meat and trivia about the hilly terrains, and the limited ingredients they had to spruce up their food. In an attempt to be authentic, they do not use too many spices in their preparations as spices were not so commonly found in these areas. Since they were also away from the sea, these delicacies were cooked with rock salt procured from the hills, instead of sea salt. The meat is cooked in its own juice at the Frontier, Ashok, which was again a standard cooking practice among tribes of the frontier. The robust cascade of flavours found in these recipes is distinct and oh-so-unique. If you call yourself a hardcore non-vegetarian, this is the place to be. Another very interesting aspect about the menu is that you would not find many rice dishes up the menu, since rice cultivation was also not possible in these terrains. Rice is mostly an 'eastern phenomenon', in the west people usually consumed breads that were also prepared in the underground pit/ tandoor. If you do feel like ordering rice, you can ask the chefs, they'll make it for you.
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We tried a gamut of dishes at The Frontier, Ashok. For starters we had the Kabab-e-Bannu (pieces of tender chicken, marinated in egg, vinegar & pepper, cooked in clay oven), Pathar kabab (tender slices of mountain lamb, gently rubbed with spices & cooked on hot stone), tandoori machchi (fish spiced & marinated, roasted in clay oven). Among the vegetarian starters we had the Moti-e-Zameen (a combination of onions, capsicum, tomato, pineapple &cottage cheese skewered on charcoal), Bharwan Aloo (potatoes stuffed with delicately flavored cheese cooked in tandoor), Raan Aleeshan (tender leg of lamb delicately marinated in rum & extracts of rare spices, roasted in tandoor) and Subz-e-Seekh (vegetarian seekh kebabs). Kebab-e bannu impresses with its texture, the pathhar kabab is smoky, succulent and sumptuous too. It was a delight cutting into the tender fish, it melts in your mouth in no time. We also thoroughly loved the stuffed and wholesome bharwa aloo as well.
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Moving on to mains, you have to try their Dal Dera Ismail Khan, this robust dal preparation may resemble something like dal makhani, but it is so dramatically different. Slow-cooked in dollops of butter, this is easily one of the heaviest and decadent dal preparations we have tried. Another interesting vegetarian delicacy of Frontier is 'khatte baingan'. The tangy treat is made in a mix of special masalas. We were told that the lands of North-Western frontier were not fit to cultivate many vegetables, hence their cuisine was mostly meat-based. But vegetables like eggplants would grow once and often and were commonly consumed. The Murgh Makhani Andaz and mutton Rogan josh are also Frontier's top-selling dishes, and they are totally worth the hype.
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We rounded up our meal with in-house gulab jamun, chef's special kulfi and sheer-e-murmuri , which is essentially a phirni made with whole milk. A creamy and delectable affair.
Where: Frontier, The Ashok Hotel, Chanakyapuri
Cost For Two: INR 4000 for two