Name: Punjabi Junction.
Quick bite: This restaurant and bakery opened in May on a nondescript part of Meridian Street and is itself not all that interesting to look at. But its kitchen is turning out savory dishes worthy of your attention, especially if you love Indian street food.
I stopped in one day, in the mood for a hearty lunch. I started with veggie pakora for $4.50. These fritters were made of shreds of spinach, potato, cauliflower and onion that were dipped into batter and then deep-fried. They came with two sauces for dipping, one a mint chutney and the other a sweet-sour tamarind chutney. They were crispy, savory and slightly spicy. Dipping them into chutney helped cool the slight burn.
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I intended to eat a couple. I ate the whole plate, not able to resist the flavors and the light texture.
That left less room for the $6.99 lunch special, butter chicken served over basmati rice and dished into a bowl.
The boneless chicken was marinated and then cooked in a butter, cream and tomato sauce and spices that made the sauce a bold orange-red. Its presentation was plain, but the flavors were rich and sumptuous. This is stick-to-your-ribs comfort food with a light curry kick.
Side: I took home most of the butter chicken because I wanted to save what little room remained for Punjabi Junction’s sweets, which were displayed in a deli case. I ordered a white ball called rasgulla, which is, closest I can describe, kind of like a firm dumpling. It’s made with milk, cream, sugar, rose water, flour, lemon juice and coconut powder — all compressed into a sticky, sweet ball.
I’d never tasted anything like it.
I expected to bite into something firm yet crumbly, but the ball was moist, sugary and almost juicy with a hint of rose water and citrus.
This and another sweet, a green chewy sugary square called Karachi halwa, cost $1.50. The halwa, made of corn flour, ghee, sugar and nuts, was unremarkable in that it tasted very sweet and that was it.
Ambiance: Nothing fancy. This small restaurant has six tables. Eat in or order takeout.