If anyone ever tries to tell you that MM Alam or adjoining area restaurants have the best Pakistani food, don’t be so quick to believe them. It is commonly understood that authentic Pakistani food can only be found in the old city of Lahore. The only drawback about venturing that side of the city is the traffic and congestion one encounters on nights you’re just looking for a quick meal. Now, what if the best food from the old city landed in central Lahore? Enter Baranh.
The restaurant has been named after the 12 gates of Lahore and claims to be serving popular delicacies from each of the gates. The owners have grown up in the old city and tell Instep that their childhood was spent around these restaurants and the recipes have been passed down to generations in their family. I’m intrigued.
The location is good; at Gaddafi Stadium sandwiched between other Pakistani restaurants and in front of Scream, Baranh has an outdoor seating space with dim lighting and giant fans for the summer. We predict that if the food remains consistently good, this would be a great winter hang out spot. The menu boasts “gate specials” like Arif Chatkhara’s well known Tawa Chicken and Anda Tikki along with Sultani Haleem, Pathooray Channay and Tawa Qeema. On their introductory menu, they also had Mutton Karahi and Desi Murgh Karahi, which are all items one wouldn’t mind the long drive to old city for.
Since it’s opened, I’ve frequented the restaurant three to four times – for a few reasons. I like that the owners came and spoke to us about the history of the food and very honestly, discussed the logistical problems they encountered with quality control. Knowing what has gone into the preparation of your food makes the experience all the better. Secondly, there’s an open kitchen where everything is prepared freshly, which means it can be made according to your requirements. One can even walk over to see the preparation if you want to further stimulate your appetite.
Baranh serves Gol Gappa shots as an appetizer which is something popular in India but this serving style is rather new to Pakistan. The water wasn’t as tangy as I’m used to and the imlee settles to the bottom of the glass too fast. That said, Instagrammability: 100%. Next up, I tried the Tawa Chicken – being a big fan of the original old city one I was holding it up to high standards. It’s safe to say Baranh’s chicken not only met those standards but I found theirs to be more succulent and juicy. There were a few people on the table that don’t take their spices in excess the way I do and the restaurant was able to make theirs less spicy. The raita that is served along with the chicken also helped them handle the spices and the accompanying Rumali Roti is very similar to the original.
We also tried the Anda Tikka, which is boiled eggs marinated in the same manner as Tawa Chicken and then cooked over the tawa. Next up were the Pathooray Channay which the owners shared are different to the ones usually available. Theirs were smaller than the usual ones and crispier. They came stuffed with either chicken or qeema with a side of mixed pickle, chickpea’s and sweet chutney. This was really the highlight of the meal because Baranh’s own spin on the age old classic was evident and it worked! After all this, we still made space for the Gulab Jaman on the owner’s insistence and were not disappointed.
The Paira Lassi, which I didn’t have room for, made my friend a happy camper.