For the last couple of times, whenever I visited Trivandrum, there is one place that I am eager to go for dinner. Because, this place serves the best chaats and Punjabi, dhabi style food that you cannot find anywhere else in Trivandrum. Added to this is the fact that it's a long drive from home and I needn't be persuaded any further! The Dhaba Project, true to its name, serves dhaba style food - a bit more pricier than the food you get in Dhaba, of course, but no complaints since it's much cleaner and worth every penny. Call me biased but, I love everything about this place, right from the way its interior is done to the lassi they serve.
The place is done up in a kutcha setup with brick walls and thatched roof. Once you enter, you have the option of cabin as well as open area seating - I always go for the open area seating because of the ambience and those 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!
The Masala Pappad we had last time
My course of meal is always the same whenever I frequent here. It always starts with Chaat, followed by Tikka, Aloo Paratha and ends with Lassi (I go for the salt one since I'm not a sweet fan). However, depending on the people with whom I go, we also order Biryani, Naans, Kulchas and curry.
The chaat here is the best I've had so far in Trivandrum. The mere thought of it is itself making me drool and crave for it! Last time we were there, we ordered for a plate of Pani Puri, Dahi Puri and Aloo Tikki Chaat. As much as I love Pani Puri, this time the Aloo Tikki Chaat topped the list. With the right amount of spice, a dash of tanginess and the hung curd on the top along with the choles, this one was 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 there and come out like I've had the best dinner. It's as thick as cream, not too sour (very important) and just perfect.
While their range of Tikkas are nice, as compared to the Chaat, I might give it a miss if I am choosing between both. That said, the Paneer Tikka is an absolute favourite of mine - soft paneer, marinated well with the tandoori spices and grilled to perfection, I love it in the form of both starter as well as the curry.
From the Veg Tandoor Platter
However, the king of all is the Aloo Paratha undoubtedly! These ghee drizzled, soft, potato stuffed parathas, served with curd and pickle are heaven (I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture. Sadly, the moment it was served, all of us pounced on it that by the time I remembered, the Aloo Paratha was gone!). I have not had such tasty parathas anywhere in Trivandrum, and maybe Bangalore too. In fact, it is these Aloo Parathas that lure me to this place each time I go to Trivandrum. They also have Pudina Naan, Garlic Naan and Masala Kulchas (brother's favourite), which too are good, but for me, everything else blurs in front of their Aloo Paratha! We, usually polish it with a Lassi, thick and loaded with flavour (they even have a Mango Lassi!) The perfect drink to finish a meal like this!
From the last trip
My experience, every time, I go here has been amazing that I always leave the place thinking of the next time and looking forward to it. In fact, after having the Aloo Paratha here, whenever I've had Aloo Paratha from elsewhere, I tend to compare it to the one here and I'm yet to have a tastier Aloo Paratha in Trivandrum or in Bangalore, for that matter! News is that they are starting off with breakfast soon and I can't wait. I'm sure I'll be one of those who'll be there early in the morning for some piping hot, tasty Aloo Parathas, Chole Bhaturas (I know this is going to be drool worthy if the chole masala in the Aloo Tikki chaat is to go by!) and a big glass of Lassi. Oh, the thought of starting my day this way is itself bringing a smile on my face. I really can't wait for it to start!