For our first meeting, Vandana Kaushal, Founder & CEO of the Indian Restaurant, Rangla Punjab, insisted we met at the restaurant, but fortunately, Rangla Punjab is at the heart of Victoria Island, so it was pretty easy to find with Google Maps.
I climbed up the stairs before I remembered, oh sh*t! I forgot my facemask in the car! I was already on the first floor, in front of a small security post.
“Namaste”, the security officer greeted me, and immediately, I remembered a scene in the comedy series Friends, where a character named Ross, was greeted that way and how he responded with the same phrase.
“Namaste”, I responded with a smile, and my hands clasp together.
“I am sorry ma, but you cannot go in without a mask”, the security said.
I knew it, I thought. I was about to climb back down the stairs with my six inches heels when I thought, well, let me at least let Mrs. Kaushal know I was around. I called her and explained that I forgot my mask in the car and was going back to get it.
“Do not bother going back down”, she said, “please wait right there”.
In less than 3 minutes, the restaurant manager came out to meet me with a brand new mask.
Thank you, I said as I wore it, and got sprayed with a mist sanitizer.
Finally, I was free to enter India. Lol. As you may have guessed, the restaurant is named after a state in India, Punjab known for its rich flavourful cuisine. Punjabis love everything over the top; colourful dresses, foot-tapping music, and undying love for food and drinks!
I took my left as I walked into the restaurant and found myself at the bar. Immediately, I noticed the colourful ambience. A blend of modern and Indian cultural decor adorned the restaurant from ceiling to floor.
The CEO walked up to me. It was my first time meeting her. She was so petite and pretty, just like those beautiful Indian women we see in Bollywood movies. We exchanged pleasantries, kissed both our cheeks, and she proceeded to show me around.
The floor was partitioned into two areas. The bar where we met is a bit soundproof so that diners who wanted a bit of quiet can enjoy their meal in the restaurant on the other side. I followed the CEO to the restaurant, and as we passed through a passage, I noticed a big decor on the wall in the likeness of the type of trucks typically found in the streets of India.
She pointed to it and said, “this is the bumper of a real truck”.
“Oh, cool, I am definitely in India then”, I chuckled.
As we entered the restaurant, she pointed to the kitchen behind a transparent glass on the right. Oh yes, you can watch the chefs prepare your food at this restaurant, and right in front of the glass partition are low tables that had different types of traditional Indian pots and dishes.
“On these dishes, we display our buffet on Sundays”, she explained.
“Wow”, I said, as I took in all the culture on display.
She then directed me towards some cerise pink swing chairs, at the far end of the restaurant, just by the windows.
“We are the only restaurant with cushioned swing chairs in Lagos”, she said.
“That is so cool”, I exclaimed, and it literarily felt cool too when I sat on the comfortable chairs and found myself swaying slightly. I looked up, saw the beautiful flowers and light decorating the ceiling, and knew I had to take a picture here. Lol.
Not today though, I thought to myself, I am here to talk business, not take pictures. So I composed myself for the discussion of the day.
Then with a business tone, I said, “So to the business of the day…”
“Why don’t we order first?” She interrupted. “It is lunchtime already.”
She asked a waiter standing nearby in a uniform (that looks like it was made from Ankara but is actually made with an Indian material called Fulkari) and nose mask to bring us the menu.
I looked at it and was confused. I had not had Indian food before then, Chinese I like, I do a bit of Thai food too, but Indian I had never tried.
After studying the Menu I looked up and tried to be slick. I looked at her and asked with a smile. Well, what would you recommend?
“Urm.. what do like? Do you like chicken?”
“Yes”, I said.
“Okay, you should try our chicken tikka and gingerbread. I’m sure you’ll like it.”
I asked for freshly squeezed orange juice to savour with the starter we were served while we waited for the food and discussed the business of the day.
The meal came. I loved it already from the presentation. The Chicken Tikka looked liked Chicken Kababs and was served in a leaf placed on a wooden plate. The bread looked moist. Upon touching it, I realized it was hot.
“We make it from scratch”, she said.
“Hmm… yummy!” I replied as I looked over at her plate. I remembered she ordered a vegetarian meal, but what she was served looked like my Chicken Kebab.
“Is that one of those plant-based chickens?” I asked as I took a bite from my chicken.
“No”, she said, “this is made from soya beans. We have a delicious menu for vegetarians like me as well.”
I’m sorry, what? I couldn’t hear her again, guys! This was by far the best Chicken Kebab I have tasted. I am a foodie and unashamedly so. Lol. The meal was so good I finished it all! The kebab and the gingerbread and all, and I’m not even sorry (in Joey’s voice). Lol.
The rich taste of the food lingered in my mouth until I got home that night. It was a pleasant taste of several complementing flavors, everything in the right proportion. That was the day I knew that Rangla Punjab had become one of my favorite spots.
And I did visit again, this time with a guest. We had a feast! Lol. And the chefs did not disappoint. Oh, everything was so delicious. Oh yes, I tasted everything we were served, from the starter to the main course.
When the main dish came, I started eating before I remembered I had to snap the food. Lol.
Mr. OM Meena, the restaurant Indian manager always came around to explain each drink and food to me before I tasted them, but guys, I forgot their names while I ate. Lol. When I had eaten to my content, I asked for the menu, so I could study the names of what I ate. One of the waiters walked me through it.
We had Jeera Rice with Mutton Rogan Josh, Tikka Shole (the Chicken) with Garlic Bread, and washed it down with Frozen Ocean (the pink drink) and Apple Splitzer.
Just as I was about to drop the menu, I sighted something interesting on the last page. A Chinese section!
“You serve Chinese too?” I asked the manager when he came to bid me farewell.
“Yes, we do. I didn’t know you like Chinese, perhaps you’ll try it when next you visit?”
“You bet!” I said.