WHAT IS PUNJABI CUISINE??
Punjab –the land of five rivers
Punjab ,the land of the five rivers-Beas,Satluj,Chenab,Ravi and Jhelum,is also called the land of milk and honey.Perhaps it would be appropriate to call it the land of plenty!! Punjabi cooking and eating is just like the Punjabis themselves. It is simple and forthright.Punjabis are a hard working and fun loving community by nature with food and merriment,very much of part of their lives.
Punjabi cuisine is never complicated.Bhunao is one of the main techniques of Punjabi cuisine specially for non-vegetarian cooking.It brings to mind images of appetizing food.Being an agricultural state the staple food of Punjab is wheat and to accompany hot rotis and parathas are a variety of the most exotic vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights.
The earliest references to region’s food are found in the Vedas,which document the lives of the Aryans in the Punjab.Amazingly the elements mentioned over 6,000 years ago are still extant in this cuisine.This includes dairy-dughd(milk),ghrit(ghee) and dadhi(curd),shak(leafy green vegetables) and a variety of grain.Even today,the staple in the Punjab is grains and vegetablesin their basic form.
Ayurvedic texts refer to Vatika-a dumpling of sundried,spice specked delicacy made with lentil paste called vadi .The art of making vadi reached its acme in Amritsar with the arrival of the merchants of Marwar,who were invited by Ram Das,the fourth Guru if the Sikhs,to stream line the trade in the sacred city.There is also reference to vataka or vadha made of soaked coarsely ground and fermented mash(husked urad)daal.
The unhusked mash is the mother of all lentils.Rajmah derives from the word raj mash or the regal mash.Other pulses mentioned are chanak(channa dal) and alisandaga(identified as kabuli ar large channa)that is stated to have reached India with Alexender the Great’s troops who came to India via Afghanistan.
Punjab-this side of the border or that-is situated at the crossroads of the Silk Route. This allowed the Punjabis-Sikh, Hindu and Muslim-to imbibe diverse culinary influences. The proximity with Persia, Afghanistan and Central Asia gave them a taste for fresh and dried fruits and exotic nuts.
Punjabi cuisine has always been strongly influenced by Mughal invaders who brought with them the tradition of the great Tandoor and now Punjabi tandoori cooking is celebrated as one of the most popular cuisine through out the world.
Let’s take a look at some of the sub-regions that have contributed to enriching the cuisine of Punjab.
Peshawar-The most NorthWestern of districts in British India is a Pathan country and the fare is akin to the food eaten in Afganistan.The market in Peshawar handled,besides large volumes of cambric,silks and indigo,spices that came from Hyderabad(Deccan),saffron from Kashmir,sugar,salt,tea and asafetida from Delhi.The exports were raisins and dry fruits.
Rawalpindi-South of Hazara and east of Jhelum,separated from Kashmir with Attock to its west,the district of Rawalpindi is covered with groves of oak,olive and chestnut.The flora and fauna is the same as in the other parts of the lower Himalayas.This area has imbibed culinary influences from Kashmir,NorthWest frontier and the plains and the plains irrigated by the Indus.
Baluchistan-Bounded on South by Arabian sea and extending in the North to Afghanistan and NWFP,Baluchistan touches Persia in the west, and Sindh and Punjab in the East.
Food in the region has been basic and robust.Breads are made with wheat and jowar(barley).cheeses of different kinds are an integral part of the diet and among the vegetables onion,garlic and fresh asafoetida stalks are used. Rice and fish are the staple diet aloing the coast. Among the birds chakor and grouse relished.
Amritsar-Shaped like an oblong between the Ravi and Beas rivers,the districtlis northeast of Gurdaspur and south-west of Lahore.The forests of dhaak,baer,mango and jamun abounded in the district until recent timesurbanization decimated most of them.The chief crops are wheat,gram,barley,maize,rice,cotton,pulses and sugarcane.The region is famous for its buffaloes and its milk products