What is Punjabi Cuisine?
Staple food of Punjab is a Gehun Roti (flat-bread made of wheat) accompanied with dairy products, Legumes, Vegetables, and meats
What is Punjab?
Punjab is a combination word, Punjab = Punj (Five) + Ab (Waters). Punjab is a land with five rivers: Beas, Satluj, Chenab, Ravi and Jhelum. In 1947, The greater Punjab (British Punjab of 1903) was divided into two Punjab: Pakistani Punjab, and Indian Punjab. Only one river remains in Indian Punjab
Pakistani Punjab has: Province of Punjab (Lahore is the capital), North West Frontier Province (Peshawar is the capital) and Azad-Kashmir. NWFP is also influenced with Bukhara style cooking. Baluchistan (Quetta is the capital), and province of Sindh (Capital is Karachi) also influence Punjabi cooking due to their close vicinity.
Indian Punjab has: State of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu. Delhi was part of Punjab province during British Raj. Chandigarh is capital city of Punjab and Haryana.
Influence of religion
State of Punjab (India) has approximately 65% Sikh, 33% Hindu, 2% Moslem, and fraction of a percent are Christians Parsee Jain Jews etcetera. Hindu population has three major casts: Khatri, Baniya and Brahmins.
All the ten Sikh Gurus were Khatri. The last Sikh Guru Gobind Singh created Khalsa Panth. He asked the followers with more than one son to give one to serve Khalsa army. In the olden days, Khatri family would make one of their sons a Sikh. Sikh and Khatri are closely aligned. In Sikh religion, eating meat is optional. Majority of Sikh and Khatri men eat meat. Sikh and Khatri women may cook but choose not to eat meat.
Majority of Punjab is non-vegetarian. Therefore, Punjabi cuisine includes a wide variety of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian foods. The animal must be slaughtered as Jhatka for Hindus and Sikhs. Animal must be slaughtered as Halal for Moslems. Hindus and Sikhs do not eat beef. Moslems do not eat pork.
Tandoor arrived in India from Afghanistan during the time of Delhi Sultanate. During Moghul empire Tandoor becomes a standard fixture in the royal kitchen. Finally, during Shahjahan period, it comes out of ground and becomes portable.
Over 90% of Punjabi never had a Kitchen equipped with Tandoor. There is a Tandoor in every community. Woman prepare bread dough at home and take it to the community Tandoor, where the bread is baked for a fee. The community-Tandoor is also used to roast eggplants to make Bharta, and bake marinated meats. After partition, every new neighborhood development in Delhi had a community center with a Tandoor and hold social events such as wedding receptions.
Tandoor is used to bake Naan, Tandoori Roti, roast eggplants, Tandoori chicken, Bake Kebabs, roast leg of lamb or goat.
After 1947, one of the most lucrative occupation for the Punjabi refugees was to drive trucks, buses, taxis, and scooters. Small restaurants opened up near major truck/bus stop, taxi station, and petrol station (Gas station). These restaurants were called Dhaba and served home-style Punjabi meals to the drivers, as well as some of the Punjabi refugee settlers. The menu consisted of a Salad plate (sliced onions and tomatoes, fresh green chilies, wedge of lime), Tandoori Roti, Tandoori Pratha, Dal (Mah, Makhani), Vegetable curry (Aloo Rasedar, Aloo Gobhi, Aloo Wadi, Mattar Paneer), Dhaba Gosht, Mutton Kaleja, Mutton Bheja, Keema (ground goat meat with green peas), and Chicken curry.
The decor was simple, A small manji (cot) was used as a seat. A small narrow wooden bench was used along-side as a table for food. The drivers sat on the manji, listened to popular film music on the radio, ate home-style meals, and drank Desi-daru (country liquor also called Tharra).
With passage of time, interior was upgraded with tables and chairs. Dhaba became integral part highway system serving home-style Punjabi food to traveling public as well as the drivers. Many Dhaba foods (specially Makhni Dal) have become part of standard Punjabi cuisine. Visiting Desi consider it 'cool' to eat at a Dhaba.
Influence of Agriculture
Punjab has been referred to as land of 'Milk and Haney'. and 'Bread basket of India'
Greater Punjab has the most fertile agricultural region, primary crop is wheat. Major crops include Pearl-Millet (Bajra), Sorghum (Jowar), Corn (Makki), Chickpeas (Chana), Pulses, Rice, Sugarcane, Cotton, Fruits, Vegetables, and Dairy products. India's Punjab region produces 1% of the world's rice, 2% of its wheat, and 2% of its cotton.
Punjabi eat fresh-water fish, Punjab lacks sea-coast.
Cow-milk is basically consumed as milk. Buffalo milk is used to make yogurt butter and ghee. In the olden days, one either had their own dairy cattle, or access to freshly drawn raw milk. The milk was not homogenized or pasteurized. Fresh milk was brought to a boil before used to make other products or consumed. Every household would make Dahi (yogurt), churn Dahi to make Chaach (buttermilk) and Makhan (white butter), slowly heat Makhan to make Ghee (Clarified butter).
Sweetened warm milk is drank as a night-cap. Lassi is sweetened whipped Dahi, regularly drank with each meal. Salted Chaach (buttermilk) is drank for lunch
Sweetened or unsweetened Dahi are eaten are eaten with stuffed Pratha. Raita is made of whipped Dahi and grated cucumbers and onions as a standard accompaniment with Poori. Dahi is used as a meat tenderizer.
Gobs of Makhan is used as a butter and sour cream to top breads.
Whole milk is cooked slowly as the top surface develops a thick skin that is harvested to be used as a cream, it is called Malai,
Dahi made from buffalo-milk is used in making creamy sauces such as Korma, or Pasanda. Buffalo-Dahi does not curdle or separate during cooking. Makhan and Malai are routinely added to make creamy sauces
Ghee is used as a primary cooking-fat or shortening. Makhan is used as a butter as well as sour cream.
Amritsar is known for its high quality buffalo-milk.
Beans Pulses, and Pulse products
Most popular beans used in Punjab are: Mah Dal (Black Matpe), Rajma (Red Kidney beans), Chana Dal (split small chickpeas), Kabuli Cholay (Large Chickpea variety), Rongi (Black eyed beans). Alexander, the great is credited for bringing Kabuli Cholay (large chickpea variety) from Afghanistan. The whole beans (un-skinned) are soaked in water over night and cooked over low-heat for a few hours over stove-top and finished in a spice mixture.
One of the major product is Wadiyan. The skinned Urad Dal is ground and fermented over night and than mixed grated Petha (Ash gourd) and coarse ground spices specially whole black-peppercorn, and crushed hot chilies. The mixture is formed in to a hollow ball about the 2" diameter. These dumplings are dried in hot sun. Aloo Wadi Rasedar is exclusive curry made in Punjab. Amritsar is the capital of Wadi making. Smaller and milder dried dumpling are made of skinless Mung beans, and these are called Mongodiyan
The largest producer of Papad is Lijjat. Traditional Punjabi Papad is about 3 times as thick as the one made by Lijjat. Popular Punjabi Papad are made Urad beans. Salt spices and peanut oil is added to the stiff dough made of finely ground skinless Urad beans. The dough is rolled out as thin cookies about 7" diameter and dried in hot sun. The Punjabi Papad are deep fried hot peanut oil, or roasted on open flame in Choolah.
Moong, Moath, Arhar (Pigeon peas), and Mattar (Dried green-peas) are also grown and eaten in Punjab.
Gehun (Wheat) is the largest crop. Other grains grown are Bajra (Pearl Millet), Jowar (Sorghum), Makki (Corn), and Rice. Breads are normally made of whole-grain wheat. Depending on season, Bajra Jowar and Makki are also used to make breads. Four basic methods are used to make breads
1). Bake un-leavened flat bread on an iron griddle (Tawa) on stove top (Gehun Roti, Bajra Roti, Makki Roti, Jowar Roti).
Gehun Roti is the common bread made almost on a daily basis.
2). Baste-and-fry flat bread on Stove-top griddle-(Tawa) (Pratha, Aloo Pratha, Gobhi Pratha, Mooli Pratha)
3). Deep-fried breads breads (Poori, Bhature)
4). Bake in Tandoor (Naan, Tandoori Roti, Kulcha, Tandoori Pratha)
Flours are also used to make sweets such as Laddoo and Halwa
Plain boiled rice is almost never eaten in Punjab except by the patients recovering from some illness. Tarka rice (tempered with fried cumin or caramelized onions) may be served for lunch with either Rajma or Kadhi to take a break from rich foods during holidays.
Simple Rice pilaf made with saffron and green peas is served as a side dish on occasions.
Roh-di-Kheer (Rice cooked in fresh sugarcane juice) or Gur-Chawal (Rice cooked in water and Shakkar) are common sweet dishes made with Rice.
Fruits and vegetables
Amritsar used to have forests of Dhaak, Baer, Mangoes, and Jamun. These forests have almost disappeared to accommodate increasing urban population.
Jamun, Phalsa, Baer, Limes, Mangoes, Plums, Watermelons, Cantaloupes, remain favorite exclusive Punjabi fruits. Unfortunately, Jamun and Phalsa are almost becoming rare.
The most prized vegetable is Sarson (Mustard greens) used to make Saag. Other exclusive Punjabi vegetables are: Jimikand, Kathal, Simla Mirch, Purple carrots, Eggplant, and Kaddu (Indian Pumpkin). Unfortunately, purple carrot has totally disappeared.
Exclusively Punjabi Foods
There is a large variety of Punjabi foods. I have selected few foods that can exclusively identified with Punjab region. Foods prepared in Punjabi homes, differ from those available at the restaurant for two basic reasons: 1) Availability of Tandoor, and 2) Versatility at home to take advantage of large numbers of seasonal vegetables.
Popular Combination Platters
1. Makki Roti, and Sarson Saag (Flat corn bread, and Mustard greens)
2. Pindi Cholay, and Bhature (Curried Garbanzo beans, and deep fried leavened bread)
3. Rajmah, and Jeera Chawal (Red kidney beans, and Cumin Rice)
4. Pakora Kadhi, and Jeera Chawal (Chickpea flour dumplings in yogurt chickpea flour curry, and Cumin Rice)
5. Aloo Paratha, and Dahi (Griddle fried potato stuffed wheat bread, and yogurt)
6. Mooli Paratha, and Dahi (Griddle fried radish stuffed wheat bread, and yogurt)
Mooli is a white radish in the shape of a carrot. Causes bad odor flatulence
7. Poori, and Aloo Gobhi (Deep fried wheat bread, and potato and cauliflower curry)
8. Tandoori Roti, and Makhni Dal (Clay oven baked wheat bread, and buttery black bean soup)
9. Kulcha, and Chikkar Cholay (Baked leavened bread, and Curried Garbanzo beans)
Condiments Pickles Garnishes
Achar: Gajar Shalgam Gobhi, Kala Nimboo, Mango, Dhele, Tent
Salad plate: Thin slices of onions tomatoes and cucumbers with lime wedges, and fresh Hari Mirch (hot green peppers)
Garnishing: Chopped cilantro, Juliennes of ginger
Chach, salted or sweetened skimmed buttermilk
Desi-Daru or 'Tharra' (country liquor made from sugarcane juice) illegal but available
Kachi Lassi, sweetened diluted milk
Kanji, fermented carrots
Lassi, sweetened whipped yogurt
Vegetable curries cooked in Punjabi homes
Aloo Mattar Paneer Rasedar
Aloo Wadiyaan Rasedar
Bhein (Lotus Root) Kofta
Jimikand Mattar Rasedaar
Vegetable Curries available at Punjabi Restaurant
Aloo Mattar Gobhi
Rongi (Black-eyed beans)
Sukhi Dal (Dal fry)
Non-vegetarian Curries cooked in Punjabi homes
Amritsar Machhli (Fresh-water Fish)
Dahi Gosht (Mutton with yogurt)
Saag Gosht (Mutton and Spinach)
Non-vegetarian foods available at Punjabi Restaurant
Tandoori Fish (Fresh water fish)
Mutton Dhaba Style Curry
Mutton Keema and Peas
Sikanderi Raan (Baby goat hind leg roast)
3. Atta Laddoo
4. Badam Pista Cashew Chikki
5. Gajar Halwa
7. Gur Chawal
11. Roh di Kheer
12. Saviyan Kheer
13. Sooji Halwa (Parsad)
14. Kulfi and Falooda
|Google Group | Disclaimer | What do you think!|