Time Out says
Revel in all the drama of North India cuisine
Strong desire and complete surrender. That’s what lababdar translates to, a rich and velvety sauce famous in Punjanbi cuisine. It’s a dish often made with paneer cottage cheese cubes, but at Nautanki you can also order it blanketed over chicken ($19). Just one spoonful of this thick tomato gravy and you can see why this dish has such a reputation. Imagine butter chicken but creamier, enriched with an onion masala, and finishing with a slightly sweet note. This is the kind of gravy you’ll want to scoop up with fluffy garlic naan ($4.50) or lacha paratha ($5), a Punjabi flatbread noted for its flaky yet soft layers.
Nautanki is in new premises, moving around the corner earlier this year into one of the cute converted terraces that line Wigram Street in Harris Park. The décor and ambience is still more quiet restaurant than noisy cheap eat, although service can feel a little stiff and stilted. Prices remain down the bargain end though, with the majority of main courses at $20 or less. And Nautanki? It’s a type of traditional folk theatre popular in North India.
Expect a North Indian bent to the menu – that means an abundance of breads and curries. Garam masala, a classic blend of mixed spices, is used heavily. You’ll find it in the bhindi masala ($17), a saucy sautee of okra, tomatoes and turmeric, as well as the achari aloo baingan ($17), a tumble of potato and eggplant cooked with mustard oil and noticeably tangy dried mango powder. If you’re the type to be paralysed by choice, get the thali lunch tray ($20) that comes with two dishes, dhal, rice, roti, raita yoghurt and dessert.
You could just as easily feast on a mix of snacks and entrees too, like palak patta chaat battered fried spinach leaves ($12), and pani puri puffs filled with potato, chickpeas and spiced water ($10). Or try the vegetable Manchurian ($15), a Chinese Indian dish of fried vegetable balls in a spicy gravy served with mint chutney.