Punjabi cuisine is associated with food from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. This cuisine has a rich tradition of many distinct and local ways of cooking. One is a special form of tandoori cooking style that is now famous in other parts of India, UK, Canada and in many parts of the world.
The local cuisine of Punjab is heavily influenced by the agriculture and farming lifestyle prevalent from the times of the ancient Harappan Civilization. Locally grown staple foods form the major part of the local cuisine. Distinctively Punjabi cuisine is known for its rich, buttery flavours along with the extensive vegetarian and meat dishes. Main dishes include Sarson da saag and makki di roti.
Basmati rice is the indigenous variety of Punjab and many varieties of rice dishes have been developed with this variety. The cooked rice is known as “Chol” in the Punjabi language. Many vegetable and meat based dishes are developed for this type of rice.
Clarified butter, sunflower oil, paneer and butter are used in Punjabi cooking. Clarified butter is most often used as the variant Ghee. Common dishes: A recipe with respect to different regions within Punjab varies. Common ones are Chana masala, Chole, Paratha/Aloo Paratha, Halwa poori, Bhatoora, Makhni doodh, Amritsari Lassi, Masala chai (Tea), Amritsari Kulchas, Phaini, Dahi, Khoa, Paya, and Aloo Paratha.
Food of Punjab – Delicious Dishes to get you Drooling!
If there’s anything else a gurudwara is famous for apart from tranquillity, kindness and their open kitchens, it is the karma prashad. This dish of the food of Punjab is one of the best things which you’ve ever tasted, especially on a cold morning in a Gurudwara. Made with equal portions of sooji or semolina, butter and sugar, it’s a dish that screams love and affection, much like your mother does. The Golden Temple being the most famous for this, it is served up in all other gurdwaras as well as made in Punjabi households on special occasions. If you want to show someone you love them, make them a smattering of this indulgent halwa, a true labour of love!
Pinni – A hot, sweet hug from Punjab!
While eaten as a dessert, this is a dish mainly prepared in winter. It is made with desi ghee, wheat flour, jaggery and almonds – the ingredients give a lot of heat and energy during winter. While it is delicious, this delicacy from Punjab should be eaten in small quantities given the richness of it lest you fall sick! Some people don’t even treat it as a dessert but take it to be just another nutritional supplement – just Punjabi things!
Shakkar para – A sweet, indulgent dish of Punjab!
A great accompaniment to tea, it can also be snacked on when you’re craving something a little sweet. Made from semolina and flour, it is light and not overly sweet. For those with a sweeter tooth, these can be coated in coarse sugar or desecrated coconut for a different flavour. These can be just as easily made at home and stored for 2-3 weeks to keep munching on! It is deep fried so do be careful of how many you munch on.
Raita and chutney
Along with all types of main dishes raita and chutney is also served. The notable local chutneys are made with imli, pudina, anar, mango, dhaniya and Imli to name a few.
Also called “chicken of the vegetarians”, the paneer tikka has a special place in the food of Punjab. Chargrilled and spiced, this soft cottage cheese delicacy is the first to come to mind when one thinks of vegetarian appetisers. And frankly, any menu would be incomplete without it!
Tarka Daal Ambarsari
Lentils are a popular food of Punjab. When cooked they are typically known as dal. Tarka is a fried garnish of spices and aromatic substances used to add to the taste of the dal. Mostly fried onions, zeera, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, hari mirchain, hara pudina and garlic are the most commonly used products in tarka.
If one dal had to rule them all, it would definitely be the dal makhani. This delectable buttery Punjabi dish of lentils is a rich concoction of black lentils and red kidney beans made in thick gravy made even richer with dollops of cream. It’s a dish worth serving in a royal court. Traditionally, it simmers for 2-3 hours over a low flame to get it to thicken as the flavours keep becoming deeper.
Punjabi Pakoda Kadhi – light and flavorful!
The Punjabi kadhi attests to the awesomeness of the day-to-day food of Punjab and its people. The Punjabi kadhi is different from its Gujarati friend in a number of ways. It’s spicy and tangy along with having besan pakoras while the Gujarati variant is sweeter and of a lighter consistency and white in colour. The pakoras that are put are generally made of besan and onions. An alternative to them is also by putting in some peas and sliced onion to give a different flavour.
Sarson ka Saag and Makke ki roti – The most stereotyped dish of Punjab!
‘Sarson ka khet’ is synonymous with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, given that food and Bollywood our two, true Indian passions. Every north Indian foodie worth their salt (and spices) would associate this dish with Punjabi food. Being a winter favourite, it can be found in all restaurants as a speciality. Given the slightly bitter taste of the mustard leaves, spinach can also be added to make it healthier, tastier and with a dollop of the famous dest-ghee for good measure and as a wintery guilty pleasure!
Makke ki Roti – The saag’s favourite companion!
Makke ki roti and Sarson ka Saag are the desi equivalent of mac and cheese – they just go together. With the cornflour being crumble in nature, the pros know how to make it best. But if you attempt to make it at home, add a little bit of regular flour or grated radish as a binding agent. Served with ‘gur’ or jaggery as an accompaniment, this is truly a match made in a punjabi-pind!
A drink known far and wide, lassi is something Punjabi’s pride themselves in. Though it can be salty, the original lassi as it became famous, is sweet with a dollop of cream and butter to make it as rich as you can. Flavours like mango, rose or strawberry are added these days to give it a twist while beating the summer heat. Almost all restaurants serve this even if they’re not Punjabi joints which show the popularity of this humble drink.
Chole-Bhature – Punjabi Food Fiesta!
It’s a standard Punjabi dish in most fast-food restaurants now. And these two accompany each other like a dream when you feel like indulging a little. Made with flour and milk rather than wheat flour, it’s different from a poori. And although it’s much larger than a poori, you can’t just eat one because it’s that tasty! The soft, slightly fermented bhatura should be your Go-to when you are craving some hardcore, spicy food of Punjab.
Be it Amritsari Chole or Peshwari chole, they’re both equally delicious, just the place of origin varies. A staple in Punjabi cuisine, this chickpea dish is best had with either a paratha or naan. Or you can just have spoonfuls of it as is, given how good it tastes. The difference between them is that Peshwari is slightly drier while Amritsar is made with a bit of gravy. The spices used are also different but not all that much. So it really depends on which part of the food of Punjab you feel like owning your allegiance to while ordering!
Gobhi-Shalgam-Gajaar Achaar – Pickle of Punjab
Indians love all things spicy, especially their pickles. And chances are, growing up in north India, you would have seen your grandmother prepare some every winter. Punjab’s love for pickles is a notch higher than the rest of the country. To go with the buttery food of Punjab, tangy pickles are the best way to cleanse your palate. One of the most famous is the cauliflower-turnip-carrot pickle. It’s tangy, sweet and spicy or most flavors we like in our food in a single accompaniment!
The food of Punjab is nutritious, flavorful and is perhaps the most colorful of all cuisines in India. Its prepared with a lot of time, lovely spices, and bread constitutes a large part of their platter. Go ahead and explore this wonderfully happy cuisine!
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