Punjab is a farming region, and Punjabi cuisine uses lots of dairy and locally grown vegetables. Sauces are thickened with milk or yogurt, and clarified butter is used for frying meat. Dishes aren't overly spicy, and many are meat-free. Lentils and chickpeas are commonly used sources of vegetarian protein, but chicken and lamb are also used. Main meals are served with a side of pickled vegetables and a regional flatbread, such as roti or paratha. A tandoor oven, which is made with clay and heated with wood or charcoal, is used to cook some dishes. It's ideal for cooking foods that require a high temperature, so it's the traditional way of cooking breads. Here's an overview of three commonly-used spices and three authentic Punjabi dishes:
3 Commonly-Used Spices
Punjabi cuisine uses lots of warm, aromatic spices rather than hot spices. The following three spices are used frequently:
- Cardamom - Added to both savoury and sweet dishes, cardamom has a flavour akin to ginger.
- Cumin - Curries are often seasoned with whole or ground cumin seeds, which add a mild smoky aroma.
- Garam Masala - This is a spice blend that's used as a base for curries and added to some flatbreads. It contains cinnamon, cumin, cloves and black pepper.
3 Authentic Dishes
These dishes are enjoyed throughout the Punjab region and can be found in restaurants in Australia that focus on serving authentic Indian dishes:
- Murgh Makhani - This dish consists of tender chicken served in a creamy sauce made with yogurt and fresh coriander. The chicken is cooked with lots of garlic, ginger and cumin, and this hearty dish is ideal for warming you up on a cold evening. Enjoy murgh makhani with chewy paratha to scoop up the thick sauce.
- Dal Amritsari - Red lentils are cooked with fresh tomatoes, onions and garam masala until they resemble a thick sauce. The dal is garnished with coriander and a swirl of cream just before serving. This aromatic dish works well with steamed rice and leafy greens.
- Kulfi - This traditional dessert is made by reducing down milk over a low heat until it thickens. It takes several hours to make kulfi, and it can be enjoyed plain or a flavour, such as rose, mango or cardamom, can be added to the milk before it reduces. Kulfi is frozen and served like ice cream.
Authentic Punjabi authentic indian food are worth looking out for when you visit an Indian restaurant, and if you're not sure which dishes on the menu originate in the Punjab region, your server will be happy to walk you through the menu and recommend dishes.