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 dish is 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.
Style of cooking
There are many styles of cooking in Punjab. In the villages many people still employ the traditional infrastructure for cooking purposes. This includes wood-fired and masonry ovens. In the past many people employed wood-burning stoves. But this method is dying out. One derivation from this type of cooking is the tandoori style of cooking commonly known as tandoor. In India, tandoori cooking is traditionally associated with Punjab as Punjabis embraced the tandoor on a regional level. This style of cooking became popular in the mainstream after the 1947 partition when Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi. In rural Punjab, it is common to have communal tandoors, which are also called Kath tadoors in Punjabi.
Breakfast recipes with respect to different regions within Punjab varies. Common ones are Chana masala, Chole, Paratha/Aloo Paratha, Halwa poori, Bhatoora, Falooda, Makhni doodh, Amritsari Lassi, Masala chai, Tea, Amritsari Kulchas, Phainis, Dahi vada, Dahi, Khoa, Paya, Aloo Paratha.
In upper Punjab Pakistan the Lahori Katlama is famous for the breakfast as well.
The consumption of poultry, lamb and goat meat is higher compared to pork or beef.
In the Indian state of Punjab, cow beef is not eaten by the population due to religious prohibitions, whereas pork is not consumed in Pakistani state of Punjab, due to similar prohibitions. Also in many villages of Punjab water buffalo’s meat is more readily available than the cow meat. Many dishes of meat variety is available and some of them are named below.
lamb, chicken, and beef variations.
Kebab: braised minced lamb or beef meat, commonly served with naan.
Braised minced lamb or beef meat, commonly served with naan.
including Rogan Josh, Bhuna Gosht, Kadhai Gosht, Raan Gosht, Dal Gosht, Saag Gosht, Nihari Gosht, Rara Gosht, Paye da Shorba.
Shami Kebab, Chicken karahi, Amritsari Tandoori Chicken, Punjabi Karhi (The Chicken yogurt curry of Punjab), Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Paye.
Kunna Goshtmeat prepared in Kunna (mitti ka bartan (clay utensil)).
Since Punjab is the land of five rivers, freshwater fish is an important part in its cuisine. However, fishes of sea water are not consumed since Punjab is not in the close proximity with the sea. Carp, rohu and catfish are the most commonly prepared fish. Other fish types include thela machi and tilapia. Recently shrimp has been introduced.Fish tikka is an Amritsari speciality.
Amritsari Dal makhani (lentils with cream and butter); rajma (red kidney bean) and rice; rongi (Black-eyed peas); choley (eaten with naan or kulcha); aloo (eaten with puri).
In the Punjab, khichdi is made of millet floor, mung beans and moth lentils. However, khichdi made of rice and lentils is also consumed.
like Shahi Paneer; Khoya Paneer, Paneer Kofta, Amritsari Paneer, Matar Paneer, paneer paratha etc…
This is a traditional Punjabi dish which has a generous amount of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, dry dates, cashew nuts along with whole wheat flour, sugar, edible gum (khanewala gondh), poppy seeds and fennel seeds (saunf) to make the traditional dish of Punjabis ‘panjri’ or also known as ‘dabra’.
Pulse, bean and lentil; Saag; Baingan bharta.
Punj Ratani Dal:
A mixture of 5 lentils.
Punjabi Kadhi Pakora
(traditional curry with pakoras) and rice. Kadhi is a type of curry made by cooking garamflour with curd or buttermilk. Fried lumps (pakoras) of gramflour with salt and chillies are also added.
Punjabi Lassi paneer:
In the Punjab, it is traditional to prepare lassi and then extract the paneer which would then be consumed by adding water, salt and chili. Lassi paneer can also be added to potatoes and spices to make a curry which resembles scrambled eggs. Lassi paneer cannot be cut into cubes as paneer from milk can be.
Sarson da saag
(a dish prepared from green mustard leaves) and with makki di roti
, a bread made by corn flour; Arvi ( Colocasia esculenta roots are prepared with spices and curry); Mushroom and bean sabzi
In the Punjab, toasting corn and wheat grains on the Punjabi bhathi is a traditional delicacy. The toasted seeds are also traditionally mixed with jaggery.
which are eaten with green chutney also called Pudina Chutney
ground barley grains mixed with salt and turmeric rolled into balls. Millet and corn grains are also used.
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.
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.
Sweets and desserts
Punjabi cuisine includes various types of desserts and Mithyai which include:
made out of sugarcane juice.
, an ice-cream-like dessert
Semolina based desserts
Punjabis eat a variety of Breads. Flat breads and raised breads are eaten on a daily basis. Raised breads are known as khamiri roti. Sunflower and flax seeds are also added in some breads occasionally. The breads may be made of different types of flour and can be made in various ways:
Baked in the tandoor like naan, tandoori roti, kulcha, or lachha paratha
Dry baked on the tava (Indian griddle) like phulka or chapati, jowar ki roti, baajre ki roti and makki ki roti (these are also smeared with white butter)
Shallow fried like paratha, keema (minced meat) paratha, aloo (potato) paratha, mooli paratha (radish paratha), paneer paratha, palak paratha (spinach paratha), aloo paneer paratha, etc…
Deep fried like puri and bhatoora (a fermented dough)
Salt-rising bread: Salt rising bread is a unique bread found only in the Salt Range region of Punjab, Pakistan. Since rock salt is readily available in salt range so many people in the past made use of salt instead of yeast to leaven the bread.
Herbs and spices
Indian subcontinent based spices are used in Punjabi cuisine which are grounded in the Mortar and Ghotna or the food processor. Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is widely used in Punjabi cuisine.
Punjab has a diverse range of beverages. Some are dairy based such as lassi and butter milk. Water buffalo’s milk based products are especially famous around Punjab. Mango lassi, Mango Milkshake, Chaas etc. Others are juices derived from vegetables and fruits. Water Melon shake, carrot juice, tamarind juice ( Imli ka paani) are famous among fruit juices. Shikanjvi and neembu paani drinks are specifically famous in hot summer season. Jal-jeera is also common as well.
Sattu is a traditional North Indian drink which is also traditionally consumed in the Punjab. Sattu is made by roasting barley grains and then ground into powder, mixed with salt and turmeric and water.
The local regional drinks in Punjab also includes Doodh soda ( Milk Soda) and bantay (local soda drink) in Pakistan.
Fermented foods are common in Punjabi cuisine. Also fermented foods are added in the preparation of some dishes as well. Mango pickle is especially famous in many villages of Punjab.