The great Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini once said, “It’s easier to be faithful to a restaurant than it is to a woman.” Of course, he had said it jokingly to tease his actress wife Giulietta Masina, the star of his films such Nights of Cabiria and La Strada, whom he married in the 1943. The two remained happily married for 50 years until Fellini’s death in 1993. Masina passed away only five months later. But Fellini’s quote states something rather too obvious. That amongst the most primitive human needs it’s the food that takes the top spot. And so if there is a restaurant that can serve food that’s well-prepared and tasty then naturally one would want to visit it again and again. Don’t we all have our favorite restaurants (based on different cuisines, of course)? There is always this one particular dish that one restaurant tends to prepare better than anyone else. And that’s what draws us to it every now and again.
Now, while most restaurants have one specialty, the menus nonetheless are quite elaborate. But can you imagine a restaurant that serves just three dishes? Shekhar Malhotra, the man behind Hind Pocket Books and Café Turtle group, has come up with an interesting concept restaurant called ‘Teen Pateela’. Located at Meharchand Market, Lodhi Road, Teen Pateela, as the name suggests, serves just three signature dishes cooked in simple and traditional Punjabi style—‘Dal Ferozepuri’, ‘Punjabi Aloo’, and ‘Tomato Paneer’. And, in a very short span of time, the all-veg restaurant has gained popularity due to its mouth-watering trio of dishes prepared from organic vegetables and simple spices that tastes just like home-cooked food.
What makes it even more unique is the fact that Malhotra holds no professional experience in the culinary field. “I have imbibed a natural flair for cooking from my grandmother who used to cook delicious meals for the family,” reveals Malhotra who usually begins his day at Teen Pateela, often working on perfecting these dishes or interacting with his guests, sharing fascinating accounts of his childhood. Malhotra, who began his career in publishing in 1975, always wanted to set up a restaurant that not only serves simple food but also showcases his family’s food preferences in a bid to engage with a new generation of foodies.
Each of the three dishes served at Teen Pateela has a distinct character and aroma attached to it. While ‘Dal Ferozepuri’ is made in the traditional and true Firozepuri style, which involves cooking overnight on a slow fire, ‘Punjabi Aloo’ is made with farm fresh potatoes, tomatoes and onions. Great care is taken in sourcing the raw materials. While the farm fresh and natural potatoes are handpicked from Aligarh, the succulent and juicy tomatoes and onions are sourced from the Himalayan foothills in Pauri Garwal.
Only four hand-pounded spices including jeera, haldi, dhania and mirch are used to prepare the food. The food is cooked even without garlic which makes Teen Pateela a true haven for those looking for wholesome vegetarian meals. So, if you are looking for simple and delicious Punjabi food cooked using farm-fresh vegetables, pure spices and healthy recipes that have been passed down the generations then Teen Pateela will not disappoint you. The restaurant also offers a range of homemade natural pickles, ranging from lemon, carrot, ginger, haldi to green chillies, which really takes the culinary experience to the next level. The icing on the cake is the highly appetizing ‘Desi Salsa’ flavored pickle made from tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and lemons.