Punjabi cuisine

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Punjabi cuisine is associated with food from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. It shares several characteristics with the cuisine of Kashmir and other adjacent states. Punjabi cuisine is diverse, and varies regionally. The local cuisine is influenced by the agriculture and farming lifestyle that has been prevalent throughout Punjab for centuries, and supported by locally grown staple foods. Many of the most popular elements of Indian cuisine as it is marketed to non-Indian customers (such as tandoor, naan, pakora, and vegetable dishes with paneer) are derived from Punjab.[citation needed]

Food cooked in the villages Punjab are often cooked in animal fats. While many Punjabi dishes are common in other regions of India and Pakistan, some dishes are exclusive to Punjab, including sarson da saag, tandoori chicken, shami kebab, and makki di roti.

Chicken tikka, a popular dish in Punjabi cuisine
A variety of Punjabi dinner cuisines; left to right: Aloo gobi, Seekh Kehbab, and Beef Karahi
Mint Paratha from Punjab, India
Mint salted lassi from Punjab, Pakistan

Staple foods[edit]

Punjab is a major producer of wheat, rice and dairy products. The region has one of the highest capita usage of dairy products in both Pakistan and India.[1]

Roti and paratha are Punjabi bread-like staples, often used as a utensil for eating food with one's hands.

Staple foods are usually sold at food stalls usually known as dhaba.

Dairy products[edit]

Clarified butter, sunflower oil, paneer and butter are used in Punjabi cooking. Clarified butter is most often used as the variant ghee. In some regions suet is used.[citation needed]

Some north Punjab villages have also developed a local cheese variant known as dhaag, but the tradition of making dhaag is dying out.[citation needed]

Food additives and condiments[edit]

Food additives and condiments are usually added to enhance the flavor of the food. The most common additives are vinegar, monosodium glutamate (sometimes known as Chinese salt) and soy sauce . Food coloring as additive is used in sweet dishes and desserts. For example in a sweet rice dish, a color known as zarda is added. Starch is used as a bulking agent. The typical condiments include black pepper, coriander, cumin and dried maithi leaves. South Asian cuisine has typical condiment mixes as well known as chutneys.

Common dishes[edit]


Some types of breakfast, especially halwa poori are eaten on weekends only.[2]


Dishes Description Dishes Description
Shami Kebab Chicken karahi
Punjab di Karhi ( The Chicken yogurt curry of Punjab )[4] Tandoori Chicken
Butter Chicken Chicken Tikka
Lamb It includes Rogan Josh, Bhuna Gosht, Kadhai Gosht, Raan Gosht, Dal Gosht, Saag Gosht, Nihari Gosht, Rara Gosht, Paye da Shorba Kebab braised minced lamb or beef meat, commonly served with naan
Biryani lamb, chicken, and beef variations Kheema Braised minced lamb or beef meat, commonly served with naan
Kunna Goshtmeat prepared in Kunna (mitti ka bartan)
Paye Siri Paye


Since Punjab is known as the land of five rivers with freshwater fish being an important part of its cuisine as well. But fishes of sea water are not used as much since Punjab is not in close proximity to the sea.[1]. Carp, rohu and catfish are the most commonly prepared fish. Other fish types include thela machi, and tilapia Recently shrimp and prawn have been introduced.[5]


Kadhi is a type of curry made by cooking garamflour with curd or buttermilk. Fried lumps (pakoras) of gramflour with salt and chillies are also added.


Daal with a Tarka

Lentils are a popular food in Punjab. When cooked they are typically known as dal.[8][9][10][11]


Tarka is a fried garnish of spices and aromatic substances used to add to the taste of the dal.[12] Mostly fried onions, zeera,[13] hari mirchain, hara pudina and garlic are the most commonly used products in tarka.[citation needed]

Raita and chutney[edit]

Along with all types of main dishes raita and chutney is served as well that is known to add the taste and texture in food. Also many type of dairy products and chutneys are used as dipping sauces as well. The notable local chutneys are made with imli, pudina, anar, mango, dhaniya and Imli to name a few.

Sweets and desserts[edit]

Seviyan (Vermicelli)s in Pakistan and in India
Gajar Ka Halwa ( Dessert made from Carrot)
Jalebi sweet

Various types of desserts are prepared depending on different occasions. Typical desserts include local variants of pies, ice creams and puddings. Fruits are also added in the dessert as well. Mithyai is distributed and eaten on all local occasions.

Other examples include:


Breads exists in various types and forms. Flatbreads and raised breads are eaten on a daily basis. Raised breads are known as khamiri roti. Sunflower and flax seeds are also added in some breads occasionally. The breads may be made of different types of flour and can be made in various ways:

  • Baked in the tandoor like naan, tandoori roti, kulcha, or lachha paratha
  • Dry baked on the tava (Indian griddle) like phulka or chapati, jowar ki roti, baajre ki roti and makki ki roti (these are also smeared with white butter)
  • Shallow fried like paratha, keema (minced meat) paratha, aloo (potato) or radish paratha
  • Deep fried like puri and bhatoora (a fermented dough)
  • Salt-rising bread: Salt rising bread is a unique bread found only in the Salt Range region of Punjab, Pakistan. Since rock salt is readily available in salt range so many people in the past made use of salt instead of yeast to leaven the bread.
  • Papar

Herbs and spices[edit]

See also: Spice mix

The Indian spices are used in Punjab is historically the part of North Indian region. Most of the spices are mixed with the help of Food processor and other old methods that is known as Ghotna is also used to grind spices as well.

Ghotna (Old method to mix spices)


The South Asian cuisine has a peculiar salty and savory snacks that is known as Chaat.[16] Apart from that other types of snacks are very common and are eaten between the meals. Snacks are very diverse and it spans from biscuits, cakes, pastries etc. Fruits and vegetables are also considered good snacks as well. Chaat masala is especially added to enhance the taste in different varieties of chaat.


Punjab have diverse beverages as well. Some are derived from animal fats like lassi.[17] Mango lassi,[18][19] Mango Milkshake,[20][21] Chaas[22][23] etc. Others are juices derived from vegetables and fruits. Water Melon shake,[24] carrot juice, tamarind juice ( Imli ka paani) are famous among fruit juices. Shikanjvi and neembu paani drinks are specifically famous in hot summer season. Jal-jeera is also common as well.

The local regional drinks in Punjab also includes Doodh soda ( Milk Soda) and bantay ( local soda drink ) in Pakistan.

Fermented foods[edit]

See also: Zymology
Achar Gosht ( A famous dish made from chicken and pickles mixture)

Fermented foods are common in Punjabi cuisine. Also fermented foods are added in the preparation of some dishes as well.[25] Mango pickle is especially famous in many villages of Punjab[26][27]

Canning, bottling and smoking[edit]

Main articles: Canning and Smoking (cooking)
See also: Home canning and Smokehouse
Home canning of the food

Canning and bottling for preservation purpose is a common practice in houses. It increase the longevity of the food products for many months. Also in the old infrastructure smoke houses are a common occurrence that are used for smoking the meat products that increase the shelf life of the meat and also add taste in it as well. Smoked meat is known as Bhaapi gosht as well.

Cooking methods[edit]

Cooking traditional roti, rumali roti and naan requires tawa and tandoor.

Pressure cooking is essential in cooking lentils and meat products.

The traditional name of the stove in the Punjabi language is chulla. Outdoor cooking and grilling have many different types of chullas. Traditional houses also have ovens (wadda chulla or band chulla) that are made from bricks, stones, and in many cases clay. Older communities in Punjab also used earth ovens (khadda chulla), but this tradition is dying out now.[citation needed]

Mechanical Roti making machine
Traditional cooker for Pressure cooking

Religious influence[edit]

Paneer One of the South Asian Cheese variants commonly used in cooking in Punjab

Punjab is home to many religious groups, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus, among others. Based on religious obligations certain restrictions are practiced in cooking as well. Followers of Hinduism don't use animals fats for cooking purposes and they use vegetable oils only. The followers of other religions make use of both animal fats and vegetable oils while cooking. Muslims practice the dietary restrictions of halal, being selective in the way of slaughtering animals and avoiding alcohol consumption.


Every Punjabi household follows certain regional etiquette. Though it varies regionally, there are many ettiquette practices that are common trhoughout Punjab.

Bringing and sending fresh fruits, sweets and food items as gifts to family members is a common occurrence in Punjab, particularly during the spring season. Food items are distributed among neighbors as well on special occasions and as a sign to show hospitality. Mango is considered a delicacy and produced widely in Punjab,[28] and mango parties are common during the fruit's harvest season. Watermelon and spiced mooli (daikon) at food stalls are shared among friends as well.

Major features of Punjabi ettiquette include:

  • The invited guest or elder person is given special respect.
  • Invitations to a meal or tea are generally distributed a few days beforehand.
  • It is considered rude to start eating food without asking any others participating in a meal. It is customary to offer food before eating.
  • Chewing food with one's mouth open and burping in front of others are considered to be rude.
  • In the villages of Punjab Pakistan, an additional common plate is usually placed on the table for any bones left from the consumption of chicken or beef. Placing left overs on the floor or on the table floor is considered a bad etiquette.
  • After eating the hosts and all the guests join in the cleaning of the place of eating. It is not required but usually it is considered a good practice in villages of Punjab.
  • Discussing regional and internal politics, history, science and technology is common at meals, however but religious discussion is general avoided.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Punjab records highest per capita milk availability: Report". Times of India. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Silver Spoon Breakfast". http://www.silverspoononline.com/halwa-puri-breakfast/. 
  3. ^ http://www.khanapakana.com/cooking-video/7b402de4-c9da-434c-9d3b-670dbbe18591/halwa-puri-and-chanay : Halwa Puri
  4. ^ http://showmethecurry.com/curries/punjabi-kadhi.html :Yogurt curry
  5. ^ "New tech gives a boost to shrimp farming in Punjab & Haryana". Business Standard. 
  6. ^ http://indianfood.about.com/od/vegetarianrecipes/r/bainganbharta.htm : Baingan Ka Bharta Recipe
  7. ^ http://indianfood.about.com/od/vegetarianrecipes/r/chatpatiarvi.htm : Arvi Recipe
  8. ^ http://chefinyou.com/2008/12/tadka-dal-recipe/ :Tarka Daal Recipe
  9. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/moong-dal-tadka/ :Moong Daal
  10. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/whole-masoor-dal-recipe-north-indian-style/ :Masoor Daal Recipe
  11. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/maa-ki-dal-kaali-dal/ : Maah Daal
  12. ^ "Tarka Daal". http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tarkadal_90055. http://www.bbc.co.uk/. 
  13. ^ "http://www.tarladalal.com/". http://www.tarladalal.com/glossary-cumin-seeds-381i. http://www.tarladalal.com/. 
  14. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/indianricepuddingkhe_90219 :Kheer ( Rice Pudding Recipe)
  15. ^ http://cooks.ndtv.com/recipe/show/suji-ka-halwa-100564 : Suji Ka Halwa
  16. ^ http://www.vahrehvah.com/chaat-recipes :Chaat (Savory Foods )
  17. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/sweet-lassi-punjabi-lassi/ : Lassi recipe
  18. ^ http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/mango_lassi/ : Mango Lassi Recipe
  19. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/mangolassi_74038 :BBC Food Mango Lassi Recipe
  20. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/mango-milkshake-recipe/ :Mango Milkshake
  21. ^ http://whatscookingamerica.net/Beverage/MangoLassi.htm : Mango Milkshake
  22. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/chaas-recipe-buttermilk-recipe/ : Salted Chaas Recipe
  23. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/pudina-chaas-recipe/ : Pudina Chaas
  24. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/watermelon-juice-fresh-watermelon-juice/ : Water Melon Shake
  25. ^ http://maayeka.blogspot.de/2013/03/gobhigajar-aur-shalgum-ka-achar-punjabi.html : Punjabi Mix Vegetable Pickle Recipe
  26. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/punjabi-mango-pickle/ :Mango Pickle Recipe
  27. ^ http://www.jopreetskitchen.com/2013/06/punjabi-mango-pickle-aam-ka-achaar.html : Mango Pickle Recipe
  28. ^ http://trtapakistan.org/sector-products/horticulture/mangoes/ :Mango Production in Punjab Pakistan

External links[edit]