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Punjabi food is one of the widely known cuisines in the world. The food of Punjabi cuisine is mainly influenced by Northern India’s Punjab region and Eastern Pakistan. The Punjabi food could be both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There is a wide array of dishes that come under Punjabi cuisine. Some of the famous foods of Punjabi cuisine are Tandoori Chicken, Butter Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Sarson Saag with Makki Roti, Dal makhani, and Rajma. Many of the popular Punjabi foods like makkai ki roti, sarson da saag, tandoori chicken, stuffed parathas, Naan, have gained immense popularity throughout the world and are served across many Indian restaurants operating in Europe, America and Africa. These foods were popularized by immigrant Punjabi’s who went to far-away places in search of better employment and future prospects.

Culture of Punjabi Cuisine

Punjab is better known as the land of milk and honey. Similarly, the Punjabi cuisine is also rich in the flavor of milk and honey. The food in Punjab is traditionally very simple, hearty, sizeable, and free from exotic accompaniments and frills. The tandoori cooked food is widely celebrated as the culture food of Punjabi cuisine. The village culture of Punjabi cuisine mostly comprises of marinated meat, chicken, fish, paneer, rotis and naan. Traditionally, earthen ovens were used to cook Punjabi food. These ovens were built in the ground. Punjabi food cooked in home and restaurants are widely different form each other. The food cooked in restaurants is mainly made up clarified butter, whereas the home cooking usually concentrates on wheat spices and seasonings.

Traditional Punjabi Recipes

Punjabi food is popular all over the world and is characterized by the liberal use of butter and desi ghee. Traditional Punjabi dishes also use a lot of spices. Some of the delectable traditional Punjabi foods are mentioned below:
• Butter chicken: Also known as Murgh makhani, Butter Chicken is an extremely popular recipe all over the world.
• Channa Bhatura: Channa Bhatura is a hot and spicy Punjabi delicacy, popular especially in the whole of North India.
• Ghobi ka paratha: Gobi Ka Paratha is mouthwatering Punjabi bread stuffed with cabbage.
• Karahi Paneer: It is a popular recipe made up of cheddar cheese and cream.
• Chicken do pyaza: Chicken Do Pyaza is a tasty, delectable chicken dish that is influenced by Kashmiri cuisine.
• Chicken tikka masala: Chicken Tikka Masala is a westernized Punjabi dish made up of chicken.
• Baingan ka bharta: Baingan ka bharta is an authentic Punjabi recipe made up of baigan.
• Kali dal: Kali dal is a very popular Punjabi dish made up of black lentil.
• Malai lassi: Malai lassi is a very popular summer drink of North India.

Ingredients Commonly Used in Punjabi Cuisine

There are few basic ingredients that are very important while cooking Punjabi food. All these ingredients are pretty dominant in the making of Punjabi foods. The Punjabis mostly use clarified butter which is also known as Ghee in the local cuisine, khoya ( burnt milk – which is a flavorful enhancement to a number of sweet and savory dishes). Paneer, malai( cream), buttermilk are also used significantly in the Punjabi cuisine. One of the most popular class of Punjabi recipes are the raitas. Punjabi food, known for its spiciness, makes use different types of masalas like the kadhi goda masala and the very flavorful garam masala.

A Complete Punjabi Food and Diet Routine

An average day’s meal according to Punjabi cuisine would generally comprise of the following:

· Breakfast- the typical Punjabi breakfast comprises of parathas( either stuffed or plain) served with curries, chutnies and other accompaniments. A glass of buttermilk is drunk at the end of the meal to soothe the spicy after taste and also the stomach. It is an almost mandatory inclusion in the hot summer menu.

· Lunch – though many parts of india have rice for lunch, the Punjabi food for lunch mostly consists of roti. Makki ki roti (Indian bread made of cornflour) is a nutritious staple for lunch. Onion chutney is a much-liked accompaniment for this dish, though the traditional accompaniment is a curry made of mustard leaves called(sarson ka saag).

· Dinner- Punjabi food for dinner mainly consists of roti and the thick and wholesome tandoori roti( the one made in the Indian tandoor oven) is the common choice. It is served with Mah Ki Dal( Black bean gravy dish), and bhuna gosht( a spicy fried lamb dish) and dahi raita ( spiced and seasoned Indian sauce made by including ingredients like vegetables, fruits, boondi( small fried besan globules) in it.

Dishes in Traditional Punjabi Thali

A traditional Punjabi thali comprises of various kinds of breads, vegetable dishes, meat dishes and sweets.

  • Gobi Paratha: Traditional wheat bread prepared by stuffing spiced cauliflower.
  • Jeera Mattar Pulao: This is a rice dish prepared with basmati rice, cumin, peas, and spices.
  • Pindi Chana: This is a chickpea dish flavored with tomato –onion sauce and special Indian spices. The choice of spices can vary as per the taste preferences of family cooking the dish.
  • Paneer Mutter Malai: Paneer cubes (home made cheese cubes) are cooked in cashew-milk and cream sauce while making this dish.
  • Suji Halwa: This is a sweet dish prepared using semolina, sugar, milk and ghee. The sweet is flavored with cardamoms.
  • Patiala Lassi: This is a buttermilk based beverage from Patiala and it flavored with various spices.
  • Achar: Punjabi Pickle prepared using a mix of vegetables or a single vegetable.

Punjabi Dhaba Dishes

Punjabi Dhaba means the restaurants operated by Punjabis in India. Punjabi Dhabas are mostly located on the highways and in the outskirts of villages, towns and cities. Most of the Punjabi Dhabas are aimed at heavy vehicle drivers who work throughout the day.

  • Palak Paneer: This dish is prepared by pureeing palak and combining it with paneer and is served in a curried sauce. Palak paneer is usually served with a roti or naan.
  • Rumali Roti: This is multilayered traditional bread prepared with maida. This roti is usually served with spicy accompaniment like mutter paneer (peas cooked in spicy paneer sauce). The name of the dish relates to its size, which is very thin. Rumal is the hindi or urdu word for handkerchief. Therefore, the name rumali roti translates to handkerchief bread.

List of Punjabi Dishes

Breakfast: A typical Punjabi breakfast comprises of stuffed breads, spicy curries and lassi.

  • Aloo Paratha: This a type of wheat bread stuffed with boiled, and mashed potatoes. Aloo paratha is mostly teamed with curd, or some spicy sauce.
  • Puri: This is a type of unleavened wheat bread, which is consumed throughout Indian subcontinent. The puri is also served during religious rituals.
  • Chola Batura: This is a popular breakfast dish in Punjab. Spicy chickepeas or chole are served with batura- a bread made up of maida flour. This dish is also served in many street side stalls throughout India.
  • Meetha Pooda: It is a sweet pancake which is mostly served with pickles or chutney.

Lunch and Dinner: Lunch and dinner comprise various types of meat, and vegetable dishes. A typical Punjabi meal is incomplete without a sweet.

  • Dal Makhani: This is a lentil soup, which is flavored with lots of butter. It is normally eaten with chapathis, kulcha and naan.
  • Keema Naan: This is a type of naan prepared by stuffing the minced chicken or minced lamb and it is usually served on special occasions.
  • Rajma –Chawal: A dish comprising of red kidney beans and rice.
  • Kadhi Pakora: This is a traditional Punjabi dish comprising curry and pakoras. The pakoras are dipped in curry and served with rice.