Whenever I visit Thiruvananthapuram, there is one place that I am eager to go to for dinner. This place serves the best chaats and Punjabi-style food that you cannot find anywhere else in the city. The Dhaba Project, true to its name, serves dhaba style food. It is a bit pricier than the food you get in dhabas of course, but I’m not complaining since it’s much cleaner than usual dhabas and worth every penny. I love everything about this place, right from the way its interior is done to the chilled lassi they serve.
The restaurant is done up in a kutcha style with brick walls and thatched roof. Once you enter, you have the option of choosing a cabin or the open area seating. I always go in for the open area seating because of the ambiance and the colourful pillows that adorn the benches. Oh, and you cannot miss the Daler Mehndi numbers and other Punjabi folk songs playing in the background. In fact, most of the time, I have to strongly resist the temptation to do a “balle balle” right there!
When it comes to the food, I always start with Chaat, followed by Tikka, Aloo Paratha and end with Lassi. Depending on the people I go with, we also order Biryani, Naans, Kulchas and Curry.
The Chaat here is the best I’ve had so far in Thiruvananthapuram. I have tried the Pani Puri, Dahi Puri and Aloo Tikki Chaat. As much as I love Pani Puri, the Aloo Tikki Chaat tops the list. With the right amount of spice, a dash of tanginess and the hung curd on top, along with the chole, this one is a clear winner. The Dahi Puri too, with stuffed, crisp puris topped with ample amount of Sev and finished off with hung curd is to die for! In fact, I can just have the hung curd and come out like I’ve had the best dinner. It’s as thick as cream and not too sour.
While their range of Tikkas are nice, when compared to the Chaat, I might give it a miss if I am choosing between both. That being said, the Paneer Tikka is an absolute favourite of mine. The soft paneer, marinated well with tandoori spices, is grilled to perfection. I love it in the form of both starter as well as curry. However, the king of them all is the Aloo Paratha! These ghee drizzled, soft, potato-stuffed parathas, served with curd and pickle are heavenly. I have not had such tasty parathas anywhere else in the city and maybe in Bengaluru too. In fact, it is these Aloo Parathas that lure me to this restaurant, each time I go to Thiruvananthapuram. They also have Pudina Naan, Garlic Naan and Masala Kulchas, which are all delicious. I usually polish off the paratha with a glass of Lassi, which is thick and loaded with flavour. They even have a Mango Lassi, making it the perfect drink to finish a meal like this.
My experience, every time, I go to this restaurant has been amazing. I always leave the place looking forward to visiting it again. And every time I have Aloo Paratha at another place, I tend to compare it with the one here. Rumor has it that The Dhaba Project will soon start serving breakfast as well. I’ll definitely be one of those who will visit in the mornings to tuck in some piping hot Aloo Parathas and Chole Bhature, along with a big glass of Lassi.