The Royal Punjab leaves no doubt as to the provenance of its food – clearly, the north. Punjab is both a province in Pakistan as well as a neighbouring Indian state. In culinary terms, this means a disproportionate number of of meat (notably lamb) dishes on the menu, along with dairy, especially yoghurt and ghee, nuts, oriental spices and dishes prepared in the tandoor, a charcoal-fired oven. The dominance of meat is unusual, given that vegetarian dishes are typical of Indian cuisine. And yet the menu offers as many as 35 main meat-free options. All dishes are served with a choice of fresh naan bread or spiced basmati rice. The Royal Punjab has been a mainstay of Cologne’s dining-out scene for more than a decade and unashamedly belongs in the “typical Indian joint” category, but really that should read “typical joint with really outstanding food”. The Royal Punjab’s philosophy of “more is more“ is reflected in both its interior and its food. An overload of folklore in the dining room, a festival of spices on the plate including ginger, fenugreek, tamarind, cardamom and much more. To cool down, diners can choose between chilled Indian beer or a variety of lassi drinks, for instance; my personal favourite is the woodruff-flavoured type.
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