Punjab is a state in Northern region of India. The cuisine of Punjab consists of the food from India as well as a few items from eastern regions of Pakistan. It includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food with mixture of flavors. Punjabi cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in India and abroad. Any Indian restaurant, anywhere in the world, will definitely have the Punjabi food on its menu. The most important feature of the Punjabi cuisine is the diversity in the dishes. There is a difference between the home-made Punjabi dish and a restaurant-made dish. At home, Punjabi food is made by concentrating on wheat, spices, masalas, flavors, etc. while the restaurants prepare Punjabi dishes with large amounts of ghee, butter and cream to make it lip smacking. Wheat is the main and staple food in Punjab. They eat rice only on certain occasions and festivals. Also, the Punjabi food varies in the regions within the state but the overall philosophy of Punjabis is the same everywhere and that is to eat, drink and enjoy. The lively nature of the Punjabi people is reflected in the food and they are very much fond of eating. A traditional Punjabi meal is served with a plate of salad containing sliced onions, a lemon, and green chilies. Sometimes, they add a pickle to the platter which is usually made of Lemon or mixed vegetables.
Breakfast in a Punjabi home will consists of bread which is usually Paratha and beverage which is mostly lassi or dahi (curd). Paratha is flat bread round in shape which can be either cooked on the Indian Tawa (Griddle) or may be baked also. There are many types of Parathas in Punjab, most common among which are the Aloo Paratha – flatbread stuffed with mixture of boiled potatoes with spices, Mooli Paratha – flatbread stuffed with mixture of crushed radish and spices, Lachha Paratha – it is a whole wheat flat bread which is baked in tandoor and is multi-layered and crispy. Lassi is the most favorite drink in Punjab. It is made by mixing curd and milk and beating the mixture till it forms thick cream and is flavored with salt and mint. It is usually taken with breakfast but can be also included with lunch.
Lunch of Punjab have two types: vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Vegetarian meal includes two starters, main course (two vegetables and whole wheat flatbreads) and a dessert at the end of the main course which will be a sweet dish mostly. The starters include Samosas – potato stuffing in a flat wheat bread folded in pyramidal shape and deeply fried, Paneer Tikka – Paneer cubes with a very thick paste made with ginger, oninons, chilies and tomatoes, Paneer Pakoras – fried lumps of made of Paneer surrounded by gram-flour with chillies and salt, Chicken Tikka, Chicken Kebab etc. Main course includes Palak Paneer (Paneer with spinach gravy), Dal Makhani (lentils cooked with cream and butter), rongi (black eyed peas), choley (served with naan or kulcha or batura), aloo (potato with or without gravy, an all-time favorite of Punjabis), Malai kofta, etc. The Breads are of both types: flat and raised. Baked breads are Naan, Kulcha, Tandoori roti, Lachha Paratha, etc. other breads are dry-baked and cooked on Tawa (griddle) such as the Phulka (also called Chapati), Jowar ki roti, Makki ki roti, Bajre ki roti, etc. which are smeared with butter. Some are shallow fried, which means that they are fried with little butter. Examples of these are Paratha of all kinds – aloo (Potato), mooli (Radish), Plain Paratha (without any stuffing), etc. Deep fried breads are also a part of Punjabi meal such as Puri or Bhatoora.
Snacks are served at tea time which mostly consists of the items mentioned in the starters. Mostly snacks such as paneer tikkas, pakoras and samosas are served with green chutney made by crushing the coriander and spinach with added lemon and salt.
Deserts in Punjabi cuisine are sweet dishes and most popular of all are Jalebi, Imarti, Malpua, Phirni and Sheer Korma, Gazar ka halwa (carrot cooked with milk), etc. They are very essential after a meal for Punjabis and they cannot complete their meal without any sweets. Non-vegetarian dishes include Chicken (Butter chicken is the most popular), Lamb, Kebabs, Biryanis, Kheema, etc.
Some of the most popular dishes of Punjab loved by every Indian living in India or abroad are Rajma Chawal and Sarso ka saag. Rajma chawal is one of the most widely liked dishes in the main course for dinner as well as lunch. Rajma is red-kidney bean and is boiled, cooked with rich thick gravy of tomatoes and served with rice. “Sarso da saag and Makke di roti” is another very popular dish from the land of Punjab. This is the traditional Punjabi food that is made in every house of Punjab frequently. ‘Makke di roti’ means flat-bread made out of corn (maize) flour. ‘Sarso da saag’ means a dish made from mustard leaves. This green dish when served with the maize bread and butter will be a treat for your taste glands.
Punjabi food is the pride of the state and of the nation. It plays a huge role in the social and cultural events. The perfect flavors and spices can make you taste buds happy and therefore, make you happy.