Punjabi cuisine

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Punjabi cuisine is associated with food from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan. This cuisine has a rich tradition of many distinct and local ways of cooking. One is a special form of tandoori cooking style that is now famous in other parts of India, UK, Canada and in many parts of the world.

The local cuisine of Punjab is heavily influenced by the agriculture and farming lifestyle prevalent from the times of the ancient Harappan Civilization. Locally grown staple foods form the major part of the local cuisine. Distinctively Punjabi cuisine is known for its rich, buttery flavours along with the extensive vegetarian and meat dishes.

Basmati rice is the indigenous variety of Punjab and many varieties of rice dishes have been developed with this variety. The cooked rice is known as Chol in the Punjabi language. Many vegetable and meat based dishes are developed for this type of rice.[1][2][3]

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

Style of cooking

There are many styles of cooking in Punjab. In the villages many people still employ the traditional infrastructure for cooking purposes. 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 commonly known as tandoor.[4] In India, tandoori cooking is traditionally associated with Punjab[5] as Punjabis embraced the tandoor on a regional level.[6] This style of cooking became popular in the mainstream after the 1947 partition when Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi.[7] In rural Punjab, it is common to have communal tandoors,[8][9] which are also called Kath tadoors in Punjabi.[10]

Staple foods

Punjab is a major producer of wheat, rice and dairy products. These products also form the staple diet of the Punjabi people. This region has one of the highest capita usage of dairy products in both India and Pakistan.[11] Therefore, dairy products form an important component of Punjabi diet.

Dairy products

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

Food additives and condiments are usually added to enhance the flavor of the food. The most common additives is vinegar . 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


Aloo Paratha with Butter

Breakfast recipes with respect to different regions within Punjab varies. Common ones are Chana masala, Chole, Paratha/Aloo Paratha, Halwa poori,[12] Bhatoora, Falooda, Makhni doodh, Amritsari Lassi, Masala chai, Tea, Amritsari Kulchas, Phainis, Dahi vada, Dahi, Khoa, Paya, Aloo Paratha.

In upper Punjab Pakistan the Lahori Katlama is famous for the breakfast as well.[13]


The consumption of poultry, lamb and goat meat is higher compared to the beef in most parts of Punjab. Also in many villages of Punjab water buffalo's meat is more readily available than the cow meat. Many dishes of meat variety is available and some of them are named below.


Since Punjab is the land of five rivers, freshwater fish is an important part in its cuisine. However, fishes of sea water are not consumed since Punjab is not in the close proximity with the sea.[16] Carp, rohu and catfish are the most commonly prepared fish. Other fish types include thela machi and tilapia Recently shrimp has been introduced.[17] Fish tikka is an Amritsari speciality.[14]


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:[18] 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 [19] etc...
  • Panjiri: This is a traditional Punjabi dish[20] 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.[21]
  • Punj Ratani Dal:[14] 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.[18]
  • Sarson da saag[14] (a dish prepared from green mustard leaves) and with makki di roti, a bread made by corn flour; Arvi[22] ( 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.[18]
  • 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.[18]


Tarka Daal Amrbarsari

Lentils are a popular food of Punjab. When cooked they are typically known as dal.[23][24][25][26]


Tarka is a fried garnish of spices and aromatic substances used to add to the taste of the dal.[27] Mostly fried onions, zeera,[28] mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, hari mirchain, hara pudina and garlic are the most commonly used products in tarka.[citation needed]

Raita and chutney

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

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,[14] tandoori roti,[14] kulcha,[14] or lachha paratha[14]
  • 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[14] and bhatoora[14] (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

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 and butter milk. Water buffalo's milk based products are especially famous around Punjab.[31] Mango lassi,[32][33] Mango Milkshake,[34][35] Chaas[36][37] etc. Others are juices derived from vegetables and fruits. Water Melon shake,[38] 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.[18]

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

Fermented foods

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.[39] Mango pickle is especially famous in many villages of Punjab[40][41]

Canning, bottling and smoking

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

In Punjabi cuisine both traditional and modern methods are employed for cooking. The traditional stoves and ovens used to cook Punjabi food include:

Chulla and Punjabi bhatti

The traditional name of the stove in the Punjabi language is chulla. Whereas masonry ovens are known as bhattis. Outdoor cooking and grilling have many different types of bhattis. 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

Etiquette of Punjabi dining

Etiquette of eating is considered a major part of the cuisine. Every Punjabi household follows certain regional etiquette. The word etiquette has many local names depending on the particular region of Punjab. Though certain etiquette varies regionally, there are many etiquette practices that are common throughout Punjab.Communal dining is a norm in Punjabi families.

Bringing and sending fresh fruits, sweets and food items as gifts to family members is a common practice 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,[42] and mango parties are common during the fruit's harvest season. Watermelon and spiced mooli (daikon) at food stalls are shared among friends and relatives.

Major features of etiquette

Invitation to dine

  • Invitation to a meal or tea is generally distributed few days beforehand.
  • Denying the invitation no major reason is considered a breach of etiquette.

Table manners

  • The invited guest or elder person is given special respect and attention.
  • Usually the invited guest is requested to start the meal. It is considered rude if the host starts eating without taking into account the attendance of all guests.
  • Table setting is done before the arrival of the guests.
  • Family members or any occupants within one home make sure to eat together during the dinner.
  • If any other person is present in the vicinity then they are offered meals as a way of giving respect. It is considered rude to start eating food without asking others to participate in a meal. It is customary to offer food to anyone in your vicinity before eating.
  • Chewing food with one's mouth open and burping in front of others is considered 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 bad etiquette.
  • Usually a roti with curry is eaten with the hands. But for the rice, soup and sweet dishes cutlery is employed.

Eating utensil etiquette

  • Punjabi families use a hybrid style of South Asia and European utensil etiquette most of the times. Rice and desserts are eaten with spoons. Forks and knives are usually employed as well. But the bread is usually eaten with the hands. Soup spoons are used for consuming soup.

Punjabi dhaba

The Punjabi dhabha are road side and suburban eatery centres. Dhaba is also a communal place to sit and chat. Some dhabas serve on the same concept of Greasy spoon.

See also


  1. "JEERA RICE RECIPE". http://www.indianfoodforever.com/. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "KADHI CHAWAL RECIPE". www.indianfoodforever.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Punjabi Pulao Biryani". http://www.khanapakana.com/. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Metro Plus Delhi / Food : A plateful of grain". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-05-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. [1] The Rough Guide to Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra By Daniel Jacobs, Gavin Thomas
  6. "What is Mughalai Cuisine?".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. New York Times STEVEN RAICHLEN 10 05 2011
  8. "Alop Ho Reha Punjabi Virsa Harkesh Singh Kehal".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Pind Diyan Gallian PTC Channel - Bilga (Jalandhar)
  10. http://www.shvoong.com/medicine-and-health/nutrition/1866706-specialities-punjabi-cuisine/
  11. Times of India 30 06 2014 "Punjab records highest per capita milk availability: Report". Times of India. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Khana Pakana : Halwa Puri
  13. "Lahori Katlama Recipe". kfoods.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 14.13 14.14 14.15 14.16 Know your state Punjab by gurkirat Singh and Anil Mittal Airhunt Publications ISBN 978-9350947555
  15. :Yogurt curry
  16. [2]
  17. Vijay C Roy (30 July 2014). "New tech gives a boost to shrimp farming in Punjab & Haryana". Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Alop ho riha Punjabi virsa by Harkesh Singh Kehal Pub Lokgeet Parkashan ISBN 81-7142-869-X
  19. http://cookclickndevour.com/paneer-paratha-recipe
  20. Rani Devalla. "Traditional Punjabi dish for pregnant women". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Petrina Verma Sarkar. "Baingan Ka Bharta - Seasoned Roast Eggplant". About. Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Petrina Verma Sarkar. "Chatpati Arvi - Chatpati Arbi - - Hot and sour, crispy fried colocasia or taro". About. Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Punjabi Dal Tadka recipe - Tarka Daal Fry with Masoor Recipe - Chef In You". Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. :Moong Daal
  25. :Masoor Daal Recipe
  26. Maah Daal : Maah Daal
  27. "Tarka Daal". http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/tarkadal_90055. http://www.bbc.co.uk/. External link in |publisher=, |website= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "http://www.tarladalal.com/". http://www.tarladalal.com/glossary-cumin-seeds-381i. http://www.tarladalal.com/. External link in |publisher=, |title=, |website= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "BBC - Food - Recipes : Indian rice pudding (kheer)". Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Suji Ka Halwa". food.ndtv.com. Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. : Lassi recipe
  32. "Mango Lassi". Simply Recipes. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "BBC - Food - Recipes : Mango lassi". Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Mango Milkshake :Mango Milkshake
  35. Mango Milkshake : Mango Milkshake
  36. : Salted Chaas Recipe
  37. dassana amit. "pudina chaas recipe, how to make pudina chaas - flavored buttermilk". Veg Recipes of India. Retrieved 21 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/watermelon-juice-fresh-watermelon-juice/ : Water Melon Shake
  39. Gobhi achar : Punjabi Mix Vegetable Pickle Recipe
  40. Mango pickle :Mango Pickle Recipe
  41. Mango Pickle recipe : Mango Pickle Recipe
  42. http://trtapakistan.org/sector-products/horticulture/mangoes/ :Mango Production in Punjab Pakistan

External links