Punjabi food is synonymous with their culture – rich, robust and full of life. The richness of Punjabi cuisine offers you a gastronomical experience like no other. The land of five rivers (Punj means five, aab means water) is famous for its rich heritage, hospitality and nonetheless its food! The very sight of mouth-watering Punjabi food with aromatic pure ghee (clarified butter) will instantly tickle your senses and leave you salivating, literally! Their signature Tandoori dishes like Chicken Tandoori and Paneer Tikka are to die for and they truly are Punjab di Shaan. So on your next pit stop in PUNJAB, make sure to satiate yourself while tasting your way around and come out turned into a Punjabi food aficionado for life. Enough said! Let me take you to a culinary journey to the land of legendary Butter Chicken and better let your taste buds do the talking. So here is the list of 10 best Punjabi foods that will instantly teleport you to a food haven, so Bon appétit!
1. Butter Chicken
This sumptuous delicacy was invented by a person working in the kitchen of Delhi’s famous restaurant called Moti Mahal. The cooks of this restaurant used to recycle the leftover chicken tikka pieces and simmer them in butter and tomato gravy. And that’s how this lip-smacking recipe came into existence. Butter Chicken is not just a dish but an experience in itself. I bet you will eat it once, it will grace your taste buds forever!
LTC recommends – Head over to Pal Dhaba at Sector 28D, Chandigarh for the best Butter Chicken in the town.
2. Dal Makhani
Black lentils cooked in thick creamy tomato gravy with dollops of buttery cream is a real delight to the senses. This mouth watering dish is best relished with Naan or Rumaali Roti. Dhabas are probably the best places to try authentic Punjabi Dal Makhani.
LTC recommends – Katani Dhaba at Sector 35 D Chandigarh serves amazing Dal Makhani and is super easy on pocket too.
The only thing that instantly comes to mind while we say Paranthas is ‘Punjab’. Hell yes! The round Indian bread stuffed with spicy fillings according to which they are named. Like Aloo (Potato) Parantha, Gobhi (Cauliflower) Parantha, Paneer (Cheese) Parantha and so forth. Again, Dhabas serve the best paranthas throughout the Punjab. I personally prefer Tawa Parantha to its Tandoori version but if you are looking for less oily version then go for the Tandoori one.
LTC recommends – Nukkar Dhaba at Sector 22 C, Chandigarh and Gopal’s Restaurant at Sector 35 C, Chandigarh.
4. Sarson da Saag with Makki di Roti
Channel the true Punjabi vibe right into your palate with this delectable combination of mustard leaves and cornmeal roti served at large in winters. If you please, rewind the clocks back a little and remember that epic Bollywood romance of DDLJ getting immortalized in the backdrop of mustard fields. It is the same mustard except that its taste would get immortalized in your senses and might teleport you to the mustard field for a while!
LTC recommends – Try this at Sethi Dhaba (Zirakpur) or Haveli at Jalandhar
5. Tandoori Chicken
If you haven’t tasted this you haven’t lived, really! Chunks of chicken pieces marinated overnight and grilled slowly in a Tandoor (clay oven) brings out such unique and rich flavor that will make you beg for more. Pay no attention to the calories!
LTC recommends- Punjab Grill at Sector 17 C, Chandigarh and Papaji’s Dhaba at Mohali for best Tandoori Chicken experience.
You can find this yogurt based, creamy and delicious drink at almost every outlet in Punjab. It is the best known coolant and has another famous variant called Chaach or Buttermilk which is salty and more spicy.
LTC recommends – Have the ultimate Lassi experience in those small clay (terracotta) cups called ‘Kulhads’ at Gopal’s Sweets, Sector 35 C, Chandigarh.
7. Chole Bhature
Spicy, savory and oh-so-Punjabi chickpea curry makes a perfect pair with Bhatura, the deep fried fluffy bread or naan. Alternatively, if you are on the calorie-conscious side, you can try its non-fried variant called ‘kulcha’.
LTC recommends – The best Chole Bhature can be found at Gopal’s Sweets or Sindhi Sweets.
8. Kadah Prasad
Usually offered as ‘prasad’ (sacred offering) in Gurudwara, it is commonly known as “Atte ka halwa”. This aromatic, gooey delight loaded with loads of ghee is served to visitors at all Gurudwaras especially Kadha Prasad of Golden Temple, Amritsar is to die for! Although it can be made at home but that served at Gurudwaras is prepared with sacred chant and thoughts.
9. Paneer Tikka
Punjab is home to all things Tandoori. They know the culinary art behind tandoor and make the phrase ‘grilled to perfection’ come alive. The marinated chunks of Paneer (cottage cheese) are kept overnight and then grilled slowly in a Tandoor. The deadly combination of aroma and zesty flavors will literally blow your mind. Delicioso!
LTC recommends – Copper Chimney at Sector 26 Chandigarh has the most amazing grilled Paneer options.
10. Rajma Masala
Kidney beans prepared in rich tomato based gravy is in fact national favorite. Simmered slowly to bring out the right flavors, the Punjabi version of Rajma is sinfully delicious. A comfort food for many since time immemorial, it is the food for the senses!
LTC recommends – Katani Dhaba, Chandigarh for Rajma Masala
I know you must be salivating already! Punjabi cuisine tastes as good as it looks, every bit of it. On your next trip to Punjab, make yourself at home with their warm hospitality and their comfort food. Let me know what you liked the most, what you can’t stop raving about and in case you want to make any of these at home, feel free to ask me for the recipe! Happy Feasting!