Punjabi cuisine

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Punjabi cuisine is associated with food from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. The cuisine has a rich tradition of many distinct local ways of cooking, out of which one is a special form of tandoori cooking style.

The local cuisine of Punjab is heavily influenced by the agriculture and farming lifestyle that has been prevalent for centuries. It is supported by locally grown staple foods. Distinctively Punjabi cuisine (influenced by invading people) include 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
Lassi from Punjab

Style of cooking[edit]

There are many styles of cooking in Punjab. In the villages many people still employ the traditional infrastructure of cooking. This includes wood-fired and masonry ovens. In the past many people employed wood-burning stoves but this method is dying out. One derivation from this type of cooking is the tandoori style of cooking food in the tandoor.[1] In India, tandoori cooking is traditionally associated with Punjab[2] as Punjabis embraced the tandoor on a regional level[3] and it became popular in the mainstream after the 1947 partition when Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi.[4] In rural Punjab, it is common to have communal tandoors,[5][6] which are also called tadoors in Punjabi.[7]

Staple foods[edit]

Punjab is a major producer of wheat, rice and dairy products which form the staple diet of Punjabi people. The region has one of the highest capita usage of dairy products in both India and Pakistan,[8] and therefore, dairy products form an important component of Punjabi diet. Roti and paratha also form part of the Punjabi staple diet.

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.

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]


Chana masala, Chole, Paratha, Halwa poori,[9] Bhatoora, Falooda, Makhni doodh, Amritsari Lassi, Masala chai, Tea, Amritsari Kulchas, Phainis, Dahi vada, Dahi, Khoa, Paya, Aloo Paratha.



Since Punjab is the land of five rivers, freshwater fish is an important part of its cuisine. However, fishes of sea water are not used as much since Punjab is not in close proximity to the sea.[12] Carp, rohu and catfish are the most commonly prepared fish. Other fish types include thela machi and tilapia Recently shrimp has been introduced.[13] Fish tikka is an Amritsari speciality.[10]


Kulcha Amritsari
Paneer One of the South Asian Cheese variants commonly used in cooking in Punjab
  • Amritsari Dal makhani (lentils with cream and butter); rajma (red kidney bean) and rice; rongi (Black-eyed peas); choley (eaten with naan or kulcha); aloo (eaten with puri).
  • Khichdi:[14] In the Punjab, khichdi is made of millet floor, mung beans and moth lentils. However, khichdi made of rice and lentils is also consumed.
  • Paneer Recipes like Shahi Paneer; Khoya Paneer, Paneer Kofta, Amritsari Paneer, Matar Paneer, paneer paratha [15] etc...
  • Panjiri: This is a traditional Punjabi dish[16] which has a generous amount of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, dry dates, cashew nuts along with whole wheat flour, sugar, edible gum (khanewala gondh), poppy seeds and fennel seeds (saunf) to make the traditional dish of Punjabis ‘panjri’ or also known as ‘dabra’.
  • Pulse, bean and lentil; Saag; Baingan bharta.[17]
  • Punj Ratani Dal:[10] A mixture of 5 lentils.
  • Punjabi Kadhi Pakora (traditional curry with pakoras) and rice. 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.
  • Punjabi Lassi paneer: In the Punjab, it is traditional to prepare lassi and then extract the paneer which would then be consumed by adding water, salt and chili. Lassi paneer can also be added to potatoes and spices to make a curry which resembles scrambled eggs. Lassi paneer cannot be cut into cubes as paneer from milk can be.[14]
  • Sarson da saag[10] (a dish prepared from green mustard leaves) and with makki di roti, a bread made by corn flour; Arvi[18] ( Colocasia esculenta roots are prepared with spices and curry); Mushroom and bean sabzi
  • Zeera rice Cooked rice with cumin seeds.


  • Toasted grains: In the Punjab, toasting corn and wheat grains on the Punjabi bhathi is a traditional delicacy. The toasted seeds are also traditionally mixed with jaggery.[14]
  • Pakoras which are eaten with green chutney also called Pudina Chutney
  • Samosas.
  • Sattu: ground barley grains mixed with salt and turmeric rolled into balls. Millet and corn grains are also used.[14]


Tarka Daal Amrbarsari

Lentils are a popular food of Punjab. When cooked they are typically known as dal.[19][20][21][22]


Tarka is a fried garnish of spices and aromatic substances used to add to the taste of the dal.[23] Mostly fried onions, zeera,[24] mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, 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 also served. 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

Punjabi cuisine includes various types of desserts and Mithyai which include:


Punjabis eat a variety of Breads. 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,[10] tandoori roti,[10] kulcha,[10] or lachha paratha[10]
  • 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) paratha, mooli paratha (radish paratha), paneer paratha, palak paratha (spinach paratha), aloo paneer paratha, etc...
  • Deep fried like puri[10] and bhatoora[10] (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

Indian subcontinent based spices are used in Punjabi cuisine which are grounded in the Mortar and Ghotna or the food processor. Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) is widely used in Punjabi cuisine.

Ghotna (Old method to mix spices)


Punjab has a diverse range of beverages. Some are dairy based such as lassi.[27] Mango lassi,[28][29] Mango Milkshake,[30][31] Chaas[32][33] etc. Others are juices derived from vegetables and fruits. Water Melon shake,[34] 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.

Sattu is a traditional North Indian drink which is also traditionally consumed in the Punjab. Sattu is made by roasting barley grains and then ground into powder, mixed with salt and turmeric and water.[14]

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.[35] Mango pickle is especially famous in many villages of Punjab[36][37]

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]

The stoves and ovens used to cook Punjabi food include:


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]

Traditional cooker for Pressure cooking


Every Punjabi household follows certain regional etiquette. Though it varies regionally, there are many etiquette practices that are common throughout 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,[38] 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.

Punjabi dhaba[edit]

The Punjabi dhabha is a road side eatery where hot food is sold.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Metro Plus Delhi / Food : A plateful of grain". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  2. ^ [1] The Rough Guide to Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra By Daniel Jacobs, Gavin Thomas
  3. ^ "What is Mughalai Cuisine?". 
  4. ^ New York Times STEVEN RAICHLEN 10 05 2011
  5. ^ "Alop Ho Reha Punjabi Virsa Harkesh Singh Kehal". 
  6. ^ Pind Diyan Gallian PTC Channel - Bilga (Jalandhar)
  7. ^ http://www.shvoong.com/medicine-and-health/nutrition/1866706-specialities-punjabi-cuisine/
  8. ^ Times of India 30 06 2014 "Punjab records highest per capita milk availability: Report". Times of India. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Khana Pakana : Halwa Puri
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Know your state Punjab by gurkirat Singh and Anil Mittal Airhunt Publications ISBN 978-9350947555
  11. ^ :Yogurt curry
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Vijay C Roy (30 July 2014). "New tech gives a boost to shrimp farming in Punjab & Haryana". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d e Alop ho riha Punjabi virsa by Harkesh Singh Kehal Pub Lokgeet Parkashan ISBN 81-7142-869-x
  15. ^ http://cookclickndevour.com/paneer-paratha-recipe
  16. ^ Rani Devalla. "Traditional Punjabi dish for pregnant women". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  17. ^ Petrina Verma Sarkar. "Baingan Ka Bharta - Seasoned Roast Eggplant". About. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  18. ^ Petrina Verma Sarkar. "Chatpati Arvi - Chatpati Arbi - - Hot and sour, crispy fried colocasia or taro". About. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  19. ^ "Punjabi Dal Tadka recipe - Tarka Daal Fry with Masoor Recipe - Chef In You". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  20. ^ :Moong Daal
  21. ^ :Masoor Daal Recipe
  22. ^ Maah Daal : Maah Daal
  23. ^ "Tarka Daal". http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tarkadal_90055. http://www.bbc.co.uk/. 
  24. ^ "http://www.tarladalal.com/". http://www.tarladalal.com/glossary-cumin-seeds-381i. http://www.tarladalal.com/. 
  25. ^ "BBC - Food - Recipes : Indian rice pudding (kheer)". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  26. ^ "Suji Ka Halwa". food.ndtv.com. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  27. ^ : Lassi recipe
  28. ^ "Mango Lassi". Simply Recipes. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  29. ^ "BBC - Food - Recipes : Mango lassi". Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  30. ^ Mango Milkshake :Mango Milkshake
  31. ^ Mango Milkshake : Mango Milkshake
  32. ^ : Salted Chaas Recipe
  33. ^ dassana amit. "pudina chaas recipe, how to make pudina chaas - flavored buttermilk". Veg Recipes of India. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  34. ^ http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/watermelon-juice-fresh-watermelon-juice/ : Water Melon Shake
  35. ^ Gobhi achar : Punjabi Mix Vegetable Pickle Recipe
  36. ^ Mango pickle :Mango Pickle Recipe
  37. ^ Mango Pickle recipe : Mango Pickle Recipe
  38. ^ http://trtapakistan.org/sector-products/horticulture/mangoes/ :Mango Production in Punjab Pakistan

External links[edit]