Punjab is a state most famous for its food, music and Punjabi large heartedness. Punjabi cuisine is wholesome and fragrant. Made with dollops of ghee, cream, butter, flavoured with rich spices and deep flavours. Indian barbeque or Tandoori is probably one of the oldest forms of outdoor cooking and also called ‘Bhatti’, which is now a staple in Punjab. The Bhatti tribe of the Thar Desert developed the bhatti in their desert abode, making it popular across Pakistan and Punjab. It is here that you will find crispy oven cooked cauliflower also known as Tandoori Gobhi. Being an agricultural state, vegetable preparations are very popular too with special seasonal vegetables dishes like ‘Gobhi Aloo’ (cauliflower and potato) in winters and ‘Bharwan Bhindi’ in summers. The real taste of Punjab comes in the form of rich dals, thick curries and coal charred Tandoori delights, thick, stuffed Parantha’s served with rich, homemade butter and a tall frosty glass of luscious Lassi. These hot off the Tava, Parantha’s are stuffed with fresh vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes and even white radish or ‘mooli’. Given the love for dairy, the best Parantha is the paneer stuffed variant served with butter! ‘Lassi’ is the staple drink of Punjab where you can enjoy the standard salted one or go in for a sweet version, now you can even try fruity ones like Mango and Strawberry Lassi, a big favourite with the younger generation. Punjabi’s love their greens like spinach, fenugreek and mustard, which are eaten in the form of ‘saag’.
Common spices/seasonings used in Punjabi cuisine:
Cumin seeds or Zeera: Since the cuisine has many vegetarian dishes especially dry vegetables preparations along with lentil based dishes, cumin acts as a digestive and as a hearty seasoning for these foods.
Ajwain or Carom seeds: Ajwain is also known as Bishops Weed. This beneficial ingredient is used in culinary process as a spice as well as a major ingredient of different kind of medicines. Ajwain seeds are small in size but taste hot, penchant and bitter.
Amchoor or Dry Mango Powder: Amchoor is a powder made from dried unripe green mangoes. It has a delicious tangy and sour fruity flavour. Amchoor is used in curries, chutneys, pickles, and stir-fries, both with vegetables and with meats
Common vegetables used in Punjabi cuisine:
Okra or Lady Finger: Also known as bhindi, this is a pod vegetable from the mallow family. Bought green and firm, it is a seasonal summer staple in Punjab. It is prepared as a dry dish, some homes sliver the okra, deep fry and season with chillies to make a crispy side dish with meals, another common way to serve is by stuffing with masala and sautéing.
Cauliflower: also called ‘Gobhi’ in Punjab, this has a good amount of Vitamin C and vitamin K. Cauliflower is cooked as a curry, dry as a side dish and even made as a Tandoori dish.
Mustard Leaves: Spicy, crunchy mustard greens or leafy mustard is indeed one of the most nutritious green leafy vegetables. The greens actually have more vitamin A, carotenes, vitamin K, and flavonoid anti-oxidants. These are the main component of the famous ‘Sarson ka Saag’.
Famous Foods of Punjab:
Aloo Gobhi: dry side dish made with cauliflower and potatoes and seasoned with every day spices.
Baigan Bharta: roasted and de-skinned round brinjal, mashed and sautéed with masalas, onions and tomatoes.
Bharwan Bhindi: okra stuffed with masalas and sautéed, served as a side dish.
Chana Masala: parboiled and softened chickpeas cooked in a onion and tomato curry, served with ‘bhatura’s’
Dahi Bhalle: deep fried balls made of ‘urad’ dal and served with yoghurt.
Dal Makhani: black lentils cooked with butter and cream
Breads of Punjab: Amritsari Naan
: this is a bread stuffed with mashed potatoes, onion (optional) and lots of spices and is usually made with seasoned white flour ‘naan’ dough.Amritsari Kulcha
: much like the naan, this bread is pan fried and denser, it can be both plain and stuffed.Makki Ki Roti
: made with cornmeal, this bread is thick and tough to come together and roll out, it is served with Sarson ka Saag.Parantha
: a simple bread made with wheat flour, it is pan fried in ghee and can be made plain or stuffed.
Sweets of Punjab: Carrot Halwa
: this is a dessert made with grated fresh carrots, whole milk, dry fruits and sugar and is usually a winter staple.Pinni
: a traditional Punjabi sweet made with ground urad dal and sautéed with flour, dry fruits and cooked in sugar syrup.Attey ka Halwa
: made with wheat flour and not semolina, this halwa is rich and dense. Wheat flour is dry roasted, enriched with ghee, cooked and then liquefied with hot sugar water.
: this pan India favourite is a staple in Punjab. Made with mashed and seasoned potatoes, tikkis sometimes have a filling of peas, paneer or masala and are fried in shallow oil, served as a chaat or only with chutney on the side.Paneer Pakoda
: since paneer is a Punjabi favourite, it is commonly used to make deep fried fritters called pakodas. Coated with a batter of besan or chickpea flour, the fried pakoda is served with coriander/mint chutney.Palak Chaat
: this dish has been made in homes with different mixes of chaat masala, fresh yogurt and tamarind chutney and is now served in restaurants too. Fresh spinach leaves are batter coated and fried, then used instead of papri in a plate of chaat.
Recipes:Vegit Aloo Tikki
: http://www.vegit-merino.com/aloo-tikki.aspxPotato Chaat