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New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, offers a glimpse at Indian culture, tradition and cuisine.

New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, offers a glimpse at Indian culture, tradition and cuisine. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, offers a glimpse at Indian culture, tradition and cuisine.

New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, offers a glimpse at Indian culture, tradition and cuisine. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

The entryway to the New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, just six miles from Aviano Air Base.

The entryway to the New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, just six miles from Aviano Air Base. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

New Punjabs, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, offers a complimentary starter.

New Punjabs, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, offers a complimentary starter. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

Lamb fried in a chickpea batter is one of the offerings at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy.

Lamb fried in a chickpea batter is one of the offerings at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

The "Paneera Pakora" starter at New Punjab restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, features fried chickpea batter enveloping two quarter-inch pieces of cheese surrounding a spiced vegetable.

The "Paneera Pakora" starter at New Punjab restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, features fried chickpea batter enveloping two quarter-inch pieces of cheese surrounding a spiced vegetable. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

The lamb platter is one of four platters served at the New Punjab restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, just six miles from Aviano Air Base.

The lamb platter is one of four platters served at the New Punjab restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, just six miles from Aviano Air Base. ()

Colorful lights help set the mood at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant near Aviano Air Base.

Colorful lights help set the mood at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant near Aviano Air Base. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

A delicious coconut dessert drizzled in chocolate syrup completes a fine meal at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy.

A delicious coconut dessert drizzled in chocolate syrup completes a fine meal at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, sells an assortment of hookah pipes and accessories.

New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, sells an assortment of hookah pipes and accessories. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

At the New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, customers can enjoy a water pipe in the hookah bar.

At the New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, customers can enjoy a water pipe in the hookah bar. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, sells handcrafted Indian furniture in addition to serving fine, authentic Indian food.

New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, sells handcrafted Indian furniture in addition to serving fine, authentic Indian food. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

Some of the furniture for sale at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy.

Some of the furniture for sale at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

Indian-themed decor lines the entryway and main dining area at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, located just six miles from Aviano Air Base.

Indian-themed decor lines the entryway and main dining area at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, located just six miles from Aviano Air Base. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

Indian-themed decor lines the entryway and main dining area at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy.

Indian-themed decor lines the entryway and main dining area at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

The New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, touts its hookah bar.

The New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy, touts its hookah bar. (Jason Duhr\Stars and Stripes)

Indian-themed decor features prominently in the main dining area at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy.

Indian-themed decor features prominently in the main dining area at New Punjab, an Indian restaurant in Fontanafredda, Italy. (Jason Duhr/Stars and Stripes)

Make your way to New Punjab, a three-story restaurant, and let your five senses enter the wonderful world of Indian culture and tradition in Fontanafredda, Italy.

Located just six miles from Aviano Air Base’s south gate, New Punjab takes diners on an exotic trip through centuries-old Indian traditions and culture.

Decorative lighting in the main dining area sets an alluring ambiance. Music from a distant country floats through the air.

You won’t find steak on this restaurant’s menu, but you are guaranteed an opportunity to try tandoori lamb or chicken. Tandoori is a process of cooking food in a clay oven and is one of many New Punjab specialties.

More than 17 vegetarian dishes are available and there are even more for fish and meat lovers.

But first, you have to get through the appetizers. Choose from 12 items, each one sounding more flavorful than the last: sheets of masala papadum; lentils topped with onions, tomatoes and spices; fried chicken wings battered in chickpea flour.

The paneera pakora starter introduced me to chickpea batter, which enveloped two quarter-inch pieces of cheese surrounding a spiced vegetable. The crispy outer coating was only an invitation to discover what hid inside this mouthwatering starter. One could choose the appetizers alone as a meal.

On the lunch menu, diners can choose from three platters: chicken, lamb and vegetarian. A fish platter is offered only at dinnertime.

Each platter varies on sides offered, but the lamb platter — a spicy minced lamb — came with cashew-and-almond sauce containing morsels of lamb, basmati rice, stewed potatoes with cumin seeds, and a sweet mix of chickpea wheat balls in a lake of yogurt. Cheese bread is available with all platters.

There is much more to the menu than platters. Kebabs, shrimp, pork and an assortment of breads and rices are available.

In order to appeal to the tastes of the local community, the menu, which boasts more than 100 items, is slightly modified from its authentic Indian heritage. In my travels around Italy, I have yet to find a restaurant that offers a spicy dish. I thought I had found it at New Punjab — and I did — but customers must let the waiter know when they order that they want traditional spicy Indian food.

The ground floor offers a hookah bar. The hookahs, or water pipes, offer mango-, apple-, cherry- and lemon-flavored tobacco.

duhr.jason@stripes.com

New PunjabLocation: Via Pontebbana 2, 33074 Fontanafredda (pn), Italy

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 12:30-2:30 p.m., 6:30-11:30 p.m.; hookah bar: Tuesday-Sunday: 6:30-11:30 p.m.

Food: Indian cuisine, including lamb, chicken, pork, fish and vegetarian dishes.

Clientele: Americans often frequent the establishment.

Dress: Casual.

Prices: Platters cost 20-22 euros (about $28-$30); starters range from 1 euro to 9 euros, tandoor items range from 8.50 euros to 16 euros and vegetarian meals range from 6 euros to 7.50 euros.

More information: Menus are in English and Italian. Some members of the staff speak English. Phone: (+39) 0434-565616; Web page: www.newpunjab.it.

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