The word Punjab is a compound of two Persian words, panj (five) and ab (water), referring to the five rivers (Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi and Sutlej) that flow through the land. It is a region that stretches from the foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India to eastern Pakistan.
The five rivers that feed the valley make it the greenest region in the valley, making it known as the breadbasket of India. The region is rich in fertile alluvial soil, growing wheat and rice as the main crops.
The famous Basmati rice originates from this region and there is fierce competition between Indian and Pakistani brands in the international market.
The region is also famous for its abundant supply of milk and milk products, as it is one of the regions with the highest number of milk producers and consumers in India.
Agriculture is the traditional industry with dairy as a supplement. The cuisine of the region reflects this in the variety of breads, cheeses and butters used in the dishes.
Being predominantly Sikh, the people of this region are predominantly vegetarian, although chicken and mutton are exceptions.
A tandoor is a clay oven commonly used in Indian kitchens and originated from this region. It was introduced by the Persians/Mughals who ruled India.
A traditional tandoor is made from coconut fiber clay and water, and is molded into its exquisite cylindrical shape and dried until hardened.
It will then be prepared by coating the inside with spinach, mustard and sugar to give the inner lining a firm cooking surface.
Amritsar is home to the Golden Temple, the holiest site for Sikhs. The word Amritsar means “lake of nectar” and the city is famous for its mouth-watering food. An experience worth trying.
Butter chicken, naan, parathas and chicken tikka masala are some of the famous dishes that the region has brought to global cuisine.
Without further ado, I present to you the famous dishes of Punjab.
1. Amritsari Kulcha (Yeasted Flatbread)
Warm, crispy and flaky on the outside and tender on the inside, it’s the perfect way to start the day.
They are best served hot out of the tandoor and served with a spicy onion-based curry, mint and coriander chutney and lightly spiced white chickpeas cooked in butter.
Famous on the streets of Amritsar, you will find many stalls serving local delicacies at 7 am.
Pair this with a big glass of lassi and you’re on your way to a healthy start to the day.
These kulchas are topped with chopped onion, chillies, coriander and pieces of ghee.
You will find shops that sell a variety of fillings filled with potatoes and paneer or cottage cheese.
Indian restaurants across Europe serve this bread with the infamous butter chicken gravy. It is lightly fermented with yeast and has a sweet aftertaste.
2. Chole Batura – Puri Halwa (Deep Fried Flatbread)
This is a common breakfast recipe available across the country but is a specialty in Punjab and is served with a variety of spices and accompaniments.
Sometimes it is served with semolina halwa or sweet kheer, or white chickpea curry or spicy mashed potato.
This bread is an unleavened flatbread that is rolled into a thin pancake and then fried in vegetable oil or vegetable fat called vegetable.
Depending on the variety and location, Puri or Batura can vary in size from 6 inches to 10 inches.
A hearty and satisfying dish and high calories; Perfect for those chilly North Indian mornings.
3. Suji Ka Halwa (Sweet Ravyachi Khir)
A simple and easy Indian dessert or condiment to make with your puri, kheer is made using wheat semolina, which is lightly toasted in ghee or clarified butter and then sweetened with palm sugar or honey and cardamom, and chopped almonds.
The pudding has a grainy and smooth texture and is richly filled with clarified butter, making it a special treat for important occasions.
Sometimes milk, cream and condensed milk can be added to make the dish a decadent dessert.
4. Kesar Lassi (Kesar Curd and Cream Milkshake)
Lassi is a popular drink in Punjab. It is a yogurt-based milkshake, which uses sweet spices like cardamom, nuts, dry fruits and even fruit pulp.
The curd is first removed from the curd and then churned until it is smooth and light in consistency and thickens naturally.
Classic lassi is prepared with sugar, cardamom, cream or malai and saffron. It’s a staple for breakfast or a heavy lunch.
It is in keeping with the dairy tradition that the region is famous for and the combination of buffalo milk curd and full fat cow’s milk makes for the perfect milkshake.
5. Rajma Curry (Red Kidney Bean Stew)
Rajma curry, also known as rajma, rajma or red bean, is a vegetarian dish from the Indian subcontinent.
It consists of red kidney beans in a thick gravy of many Indian whole spices and is usually served with rice.
It is part of the regular diet in Nepal and the Punjab provinces of India and Pakistan. As the region is predominantly vegetarian, legumes are a secondary source of protein after dairy products.
Black and white chickpeas, red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and kidney beans are some common legumes that are widely consumed.
This curry is made with a base of onions and tomatoes and is seasoned with whole spices, garam masala and chillies.
Kasuri methi or fenugreek leaves are the main ingredient in this dish, which gives it a unique taste. It is best served with white rice and rotis or phulkas.
6. Punjabi Chole Masala
It is also known as Pindi Chole in the Rawalpindi region of Pakistan. It is a staple of Punjabi cuisine and is consumed throughout the year, sometimes for all three meals of the day.
Black or white chickpeas are cooked in a rich flavorful sauce made from onions and tomatoes that are cooked until their natural sugars caramelize.
Throw in some Punjabi garam masala, some turmeric, coriander and chilli powder and you have a mouthwatering taste.
A special blend of spices called “chhole powder/masala” is easily found in every Indian shop. Chole masala is best enjoyed with hot naan or tandoori straight kulcha or hot fried puri or slathered with butter.
7. Dal Makhani (Shivleli Masoor)
Although this dish was initially created in Delhi based on an old recipe of udi dal or kaali dal (black lentil) stew, this modern rendition is more refined and has a mild yet rich flavor profile thanks to the addition of dairy cream and dairy. clarified butter.
Modern recipes call for the lentils to be cooked in a pressure cooker but the traditional method of cooking this dish involved cooking the lentil mixture in a large brass pot over hot coals for over 12 hours. It gives the dish an earthy and smoky flavor.
Dal Makhni is made using overnight soaked black lentils (udid dal) and red rajma (rajma).
These are mixed with tomato puree, herbs and a selection of spices including garam masala, sabzi masala, ginger-garlic paste and a generous amount of butter.
This mixture is left to cook overnight in the tandoor giving the pulses a distinctive smoky flavor.
Dal is served with a generous garnish of fresh butter. Best served with white rice, naan, kulcha and parathas. A staple in many restaurants.
8. Our Papad
Aam means mango, papad means wafer or bar. In this case, aam papad is a traditional snack or sweet masala made in North Indian regions using mango pulp, which is mixed with sugar, salt, spices and then dried in the sun, giving it an almost elastic and tasty texture.
It is also usually mixed with tamarind paste or pulp.
In terms of taste, it is mildly sweet with a slight tang of tamarind. Salt, sugar, chaat masala, black salt, cumin powder, etc. are some of the flavors that are used to take this humble dish to new heights.
Many combinations of flavors are available, some including cayenne. You can find it on the street from many vendors. It is famous in Amritsar city.