There is no shortage of Indian restaurants in Southall. On a warm summer’s day in the Broadway if you blink then you could almost imagine you are in India. Every shop seems to be selling saris, sewing machines or samosas. As its name (“Glimpses of Punjab") suggests, Raunka Punjab Diyan specialices in the cuisine of Punjab in the north of India. Although a fairly modest restaurant, it is sister to a large Indian sweets business that supplies well over 300 restaurants and other businesses across London and beyond – the shop next door is an outlet for these. The restaurant is in the north of Southall, practically in Greenford, situated in a parade of shops.
The dining room has a mural across one wall and glittery furnishings, as well as a vintage motorbike on display at the back. There is no alcohol license, but you can bring wine or beer for no corkage charge. There was a lengthy menu of generally familiar items, as well a few more exotic touches such as tandoori quail.
Bhel poori is a street-food dish that I am particularly fond of. The version here was a touch dry relative to the excellent version at Diwana Bhel Poori, which features tamarind chutney in liberal amounts. Nonetheless the puffed rice here was fine and the coriander was fresh, the spicing lively (12/20). Aloo tikki was a do-it-yourself version of the dish, with a brace of potato and pea patties and a trio of chutneys to be added at the table. The core vegetable cutlet had a crispy coating and the chutneys were fine (12/20).
The only technical slip of the meal was the masala fish, which was seriously overcooked and rather mushy (9/20). This was a pity, but it was changed without demur and removed from the bill without prompting. Murgh methi had tender chicken laced with fenugreek and other spices, avoiding the ghee-laden richness that so often occurs with this dish (12/20).
The makhani dhal here had recently won a minor magazine (About Time) award, but although very pleasant this did not compare for me with the best in the capital (for example those at Tangawizi and Haandi), never mind that at Bukhara in Delhi. Nonetheless, slow-cooked overnight and with a hint of smokiness from charcoal, it was a comforting and enjoyable dish (13/20). Naan bread was very good, supple and with a hint of smokiness from the charcoal tandoor in the kitchen; and at just £1 it was also a bargain (13/20). Raita was also fine.
Most Indian restaurants buy their desserts in, but in this case the restaurant is attached to a large Indian sweet business, so of course serves its own. Halwa was very capable, warm and comforting on a winter night with good sweetened carrot flavour (13/20) and pistachio kulfi had good texture and plenty of sweet, nutty flavour (13/20).
The owner here is a charismatic gentleman, the service otherwise pleasant and competent. The bill came to a mere £17 a head. Overall Raunka Punjab Diyan delivered an enjoyable enough meal other than the one culinary slip, and the prices are certainly modest.