The northern Indian state of the Punjab is a district known for its delectable dishes. In fact, many Punjabi specialities are popular over here in the UK, thanks to the rich flavours and the range of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options that have evolved in this region over the years.
The Punjab is a land of agricultural abound with a variety of grains, fruits, vegetables and livestock thriving in abundance due to its fertile lands. However, despite the diverse range of vegetarian-friendly foods that can be found in this part of the sub-continent, one of the most notable features of Punjabi cuisine is the selection of flavoursome meat dishes that are so prevalent throughout the state.
Perhaps the best known method of preparing meat dishes in Punjabi culture is the use of the hot, clay oven known as the Tandoor. Tandoori style meat specialities and breads are popular all over the Punjab and have had a direct impact on the food available in your local Indian takeaway, here in the UK. You might notice naan breads and Tandoori chicken on the menu next time you go to place your order – just remember you have the Punjab to thank for these treats.
The Tandoori chicken of the Punjab has been prepared in the same way for centuries. The meat is slathered in a yoghurt-based marinade, thick with spices and lemon juice. The yoghurt helps the spice to cling to the meat, slowly allowing the flavours to seep into the flesh. Typical spices include paprika, cinnamon, cardamom and cumin – a spicy yet fragrant and warming concoction which adds plenty of flavour as the chicken is cooked slowly until crisp in the heat of the Tandoor.
Another famous chicken dish that is synonymous with Punjabi cuisine, is the notorious murghmakhani or ‘butter chicken’. A traditional Punjabi recipe, passed down through the generations, murghmakhani is a rich, thick curry, laced with ghee and butter. It is thought to have been a popular dish amongst the agricultural workers who needed high calorie food to fuel their bodies up for long days working the fields.
The next most notable meat dishes that can be found in the Punjab are the tasty kebabs that are plentiful in the colourful street markets throughout the state. Punjabi kebabs make an excellent snack and one of the most popular is the seekh kebab, a version incorporating minced meat and a variety of spices such as ginger, coriander, cardamom, onion, garlic and plenty of chilli and black pepper. The best sort of accompaniment to a tasty Punjabi kebab is a soothing, creamy raita and coriander chutney.
When it comes to the types of meat favoured in the Punjab, chicken and mutton or lamb rule the roost. One of the best loved lamb dishes is another curry house favourite, the rogan josh. Tender chunks of lamb are immersed in a rich, red sauce infused with red chilli powder and paprika.
A visit to one of London’s best Indian brasseries will reveal a variety of authentic Indian specialities from not only the Punjab but many of the top foodie states of India. Book yourself a table today!