Punjabi cuisine is a culinary style originating in the Punjab, a region in the northern part of South Asia, which is now divided in an Indian part to the east and a Pakistani part to the west. This cuisine has a rich tradition of many distinct and local ways of cooking.


A Punjabi woman cooking, Punjab, circa 19th century

The local cuisine of Punjab is heavily influenced by the agriculture and farming lifestyle prevalent from the times of the ancient Indus Valley civilization. Dishes similar to tandoori chicken may have existed during the Harappan civilization during the Bronze Age of India. According to the archeologist Professor Vasant Shinde, the earliest evidence for a dish similar to tandoori chicken can be found in the Harappan civilization and dates back to 3000 BC. His team has found ancient ovens at Harappan sites which are similar to the tandoors that are used in the state of Punjab. Physical remains of chicken bones with char marks have also been unearthed.[1][2][3] Harappan houses had keyhole ovens with central pillars which was used for roasting meats and baking breads.[4] Sushruta Samhita records meat being cooked in an oven (kandu) after marinating it in spices like black mustard (rai) powder and fragrant spices.[5] According to Ahmed (2014), Harappan oven structures may have operated in a similar manner to the modern tandoors of the Punjab.[6]

Basmati rice is the indigenous variety of Punjab, and various meat- and vegetable-based rice dishes have been developed using it.[7][8][9]

Chicken tikka is a popular dish in Punjabi cuisine
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 methods and equipment for cooking purposes. This includes wood-fired and masonry ovens. Modern methods include cooking on gas cookers. Tandoori style of cooking involves use of the tandoor.[10] In India, tandoori cooking is traditionally associated with Punjab[11] as Punjabis embraced the tandoor on a regional level.[12] This style of cooking became popular throughout India after the 1947 partition when Punjabis resettled in places such as Delhi. According to Planalp (1971), "the Panjab-style underground oven known as tandur is becoming increasingly popular in New Delhi" pointing to the Punjabi style of the tandoor.[13][14] In rural Punjab, it is common to have communal tandoors,[15][16] which are also called Kath tandoors in Punjabi.

Staple foods

Punjabi food thali

Punjab is a major producer of wheat, rice and dairy products. These products also form the staple diet of the Punjabi people. The state of Punjab has one of the highest capita usage of dairy products in India.[17] Therefore, dairy products form an important component of Punjabi diet.

Dairy products are a staple in Punjabi cuisine.[18] Both cow milk and water buffalo milk are popular. Milk is used for drinking, to add to tea or coffee, to make homemade dahi (yogurt), for butter and making traditional Punjabi cottage cheese called paneer.[19] Traditionally, yogurt is made every day using previous day's yogurt as the starting bacterial culture to ferment the milk. Curd is used as dressing for many raita dishes, to prepare Kadhi, to prepare cultured buttermilk (Chaas), and as a side dish in a meal.[20] Buttermilk is used in making various kinds of Lassi.[21][22][23] It may also be used in curry preparations.[24] Milk is also the prerequisite ingredient for butter and Ghee (clarified butter).

Food additives and condiments


Food additives and condiments are usually added to enhance the flavor of the food. Food coloring as additive is used in sweet dishes and desserts. Starch is used as a bulking agent.

Common dishes



Aloo paratha/parontha with butter

Breakfast recipes with respect to different regions within Punjab varies. Common ones are chana masala, nan, chole kulche, aloo paratha, paneer paratha, gobi paratha, paratha with curd, paratha with butter, halwa poori,[25] bhatoora, falooda, makhni doodh, Amritsari lassi, masala chai, tea, Amritsari kulchas, dahi vada, dahi, khoa, paya, aloo paratha with butter, panjeeri with milk.

In the upper Punjab Pakistan the Lahori Katlama is famous for breakfast as well.[26]



Poultry, lamb and goat meat are the preferred meat sources in different regions of Punjab.

Many dishes of meat variety is available and some of them are named below.

Tandoori chicken
  • Biryani:[27] lamb, chicken, and beef
  • Pilaf: Beef and Lamb
  • Kebab: braised chicken, beef, or lamb meat, commonly served with naan and flat bread.
  • Keema: Braised minced lamb meat, commonly served with naan.
  • Lamb: including rogan josh, Bhuna Gosht,[27] Kadhai Gosht, Raan Gosht, Dal Gosht, Saag Gosht, Nihari, Rara Gosht, Paye da Shorba
  • Shami kebab, chicken karahi, Amritsari tandoori chicken,[27] Punjabi Karhi (the chicken yogurt curry of Punjab),[28] Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhni),[27] chicken tikka, Paye.
  • Kunna Gosht, slow cooked meat prepared in Kunna (mitti ki bartan (clay utensil))
  • Haleem is made of meat (beef or chicken) slow cooked with a mixture of legumes softened by overnight cooking it is a protein rich food with spices and aromatics like nutmeg served with wedge of lemon and sautéed onions.



Since Punjab is a landlocked region, freshwater fish, and not marine fish, forms an important part of the cuisine.[29] Carp, rohu and catfish are the most commonly prepared fish. Other fish types include thela machi and tilapia. Recently, shrimp has been introduced.[30] Fish tikka is an Amritsari speciality.[27]


Kulcha amritsari
Paneer, one of the South Asian cheese variants commonly used in cooking in Punjab
  • Khichdi, a grain-and-lentil dish:[31] In the Punjab, khichdi is made of millet flour, mung beans and moth lentils (Vigna aconitifolia). However, khichdi made of rice and red lentils or mung beans is also consumed.
  • Rajma, Rajma is the Hindi word for Red kidney beans. Beans are cooked on medium spicy onion-tomato gravy and most often served with steamed rice and sometimes with Indian flatbread called Chapati (Phulka in Punjab region).
  • Paneer (freshly made cottage cheese) Recipes like Shahi Paneer; Khoya Paneer, Paneer Kofta (paneer chunks battered and fried, then simmered in a spicy gravy), Amritsari Paneer, Matar Paneer (paneer with green peas), paneer paratha (wheat flatbread stuffed with paneer),Palak Paneer
  • Panjiri: This is a traditional North Indian dessert[32] and is popular in Punjab region as well.[33] which has a generous amount of almonds, walnuts, pistachios, dry dates, cashew nuts along with whole wheat flour, sugar, edible gum, poppy seeds and fennel seeds to make the traditional dish of 'panjri' or also known as 'dabra'.
  • Legumes: a variety of legumes are used, including chickpeas, pigeon peas, red lentils, mung bean, red kidney beans (originally an import from the Americas) and black gram. Legumes may be used singly or in combination like Dal Makhani[34][35][36][37]
    Tarka daal ambarsari
  • Saag: a variety of leafy greens (including spinach and mustard greens), typically cooked down to a stew, tempered with ginger, tomato, onion, garlic, chilies and other spices, and often enriched with paneer or cream. Bathua is also added to enhance the flavor. It is served with butter on top and with makki ki roti. Saag is a winter and spring delicacy; it is one of the most popular dishes of Punjab.
  • Eggplant: Baingan bharta is similar to baba ghanoush in the way the eggplant is prepared by roasting and peeling the skin off, but much richer, with the incorporation of much cooked tomato, browned onion and a variety of spices instead of tahini.[38]
  • Punj Ratani Dal:[27] A thick gravy that uses 5 legumes, with tomato, browned onion and spices.
  • Punjabi Kadhi Pakora (traditional curry with rice). Kadhi is a type of curry made with yogurt or buttermilk, which is thickened with chickpea flour and seasoned with ginger, turmeric, chilies, and tempered spices. Deep-fried lumps of spiced chickpea-flour batter (pakoras) 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.[31]



Raita and chutney


Along with all types of main dishes raita or chutney is also served.

Sweets and desserts

Gajar ka halwa (Gajrela), a dessert made from carrot

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:

Herbs and spices

Mortar and pestle (Old method to mix spices)

Indian subcontinent-based spices are used in Punjabi cuisine, which are ground in a mortar and pestle or a food processor.



Punjab has a diverse range of beverages. Some are dairy-based such as lassi and buttermilk. Water buffalo milk-based products are especially common around Punjab.[44] Examples are mango lassi,[45][46] mango milkshake,[47][48] and chaas.[49][50] Others are juices derived from vegetables and fruits, such as watermelon shakes,[51] carrot juice and tamarind juice (imli ka paani). Shikanjvi and neembu paani drinks are especially preferred during the summer. Jal-jeera is also common as well.

Sattu is a traditional North Indian drink that is also traditionally consumed in the Punjab. Sattu is made by roasting barley grains and then grinding them into powder, mixed with salt and turmeric and water.[31]

The local regional drinks in Punjab also include Doodh soda (milk soda),[52] Desi Daaru (a local form of alcohol in India) and Bantay (a 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.[53] Mango pickle is especially famous in many villages of Punjab.[54][55]

Cooking methods

A traditional Punjabi stove (Chulla) and oven (Bharolli)

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



The traditional name of the stove in the Punjabi language is chulla.[56] 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]



A masonry oven is known as a bhathi. Outdoor cooking and grilling have many different types of bhathi. A bhathi is used to roast wheat or corn for which Kalsi (1992) describes as a "special oven with an open pan in which sand is heated to roast corn."[57]



A hara is a six-foot-tall oven with its own roof. The hara is traditionally used to slow-heat milk or slow-cook pulses such as chickpeas.[58]



According to Ancient Pakistan - An Archaeological History by Mukhtar Ahmed,[59] Harappan oven structures may have operated in a similar manner to the modern tandoors of the Punjab. The tandoor is traditionally made of clay and is a bell-shaped oven, set into the earth and fired with wood or charcoal reaching high temperatures. According to Roy Hayter[60] the original versions of the tandoor "in the Punjab, a province in the north-west of India, were sunk neck deep in the ground". He further states that modern versions can also rest above the ground.

Modern methods


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,[61] and mango parties are common during the fruit's harvest season. Watermelon and radish at food stalls are shared among friends and relatives.

Major features of etiquette


An invitation to a meal or tea is typically distributed few days beforehand. Denying the invitation for no major reason is considered a breach of etiquette.

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. 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.

Punjabi families use a hybrid style of South Asian and European utensil etiquette most of the times. The bread and rice are eaten with the hands. Desserts are eaten with spoons. Soup spoons are used for consuming soup and forks are used for eating noodles. Chewing food with one's mouth open and burping in front of others is considered rude. In the villages of Punjab, an additional common plate is usually placed on the table for any bones left from the consumption of bone meat. Placing leftovers on the floor or on the table floor is considered bad etiquette.

Punjabi dhaba


The roadsides often serve as suburban eatery centers. They can also be a communal place to sit and chat. Some serve on the same concept of the greasy spoon.

Punjabi restaurants

Selection of signature dishes at New Punjab Club[62]

Punjabi cuisine has spread internationally. Punjab in London has been family-run since 1946 and is the UK's oldest North Indian restaurant.[63] The New Punjab Club,[64] located in Hong Kong, became the world's first Punjabi restaurant to earn One Michelin Star in 2019.[65]

See also



  1. ^ Lawler, Andrew (30 January 2013). "The Mystery of Curry". Slate.
  2. ^ Ritu, Grishm. "Virasat" (PDF).
  3. ^ Bhuyan, Avantika (9 April 2017). "How archaeologists across the country are unearthing the food of ancestors to shed light on the evolution of eating". The Economic Times.
  4. ^ "7 Kenoyer 2015 Indus Civilization.pdf: ANTHRO100: General Anthropology (002)". canvas.wisc.edu. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Full text of "Indian Food Tradition A Historical Companion Achaya K. T."". archive.org. Retrieved 6 February 2019.
  6. ^ Ahmed, Mukhtar (2014). Ancient Pakistan – An Archaeological History. Vol. IV. Foursome Group. pp. 211–. ISBN 978-1-4960-8208-4.
  7. ^ "Jeera Rice Recipe". Indianfoodforever. Indian food forever. 2 September 2019.
  8. ^ "KADHI CHAWAL RECIPE". Indianfoodforever. 2 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Punjabi Pulao Biryani". Khanapakana. Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Metro Plus Delhi / Food : A plateful of grain". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 24 November 2008. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  11. ^ [1] The Rough Guide to Rajasthan, Delhi and Agra By Daniel Jacobs, Gavin Thomas
  12. ^ "What is Mughalai Cuisine?". Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  13. ^ Planalp, Jack M. (1971) Heat Stress and Culture in North India. U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command,[2]
  14. ^ Raichlen, Steven (10 May 2011). "A Tandoor Oven Brings India's Heat to the Backyard". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2017 – via NYTimes.com.
  15. ^ "Alop Ho Reha Punjabi Virsa Harkesh Singh Kehal".
  16. ^ Pind Diyan Gallian PTC Channel - Bilga (Jalandhar)
  17. ^ Times of India "Punjab records highest per capita milk availability: Report". Times of India. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  18. ^ Richard Hosking (2006). Authenticity in the Kitchen: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2005. Oxford Symposium. pp. 391–. ISBN 978-1-903018-47-7.
  19. ^ Richard Hosking (2006). Authenticity in the Kitchen: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2005. Oxford Symposium. p. 3917. ISBN 978-1-903018-47-7.
  20. ^ Misra, R., 2011. Indian Foods: AAPI’s Guide Indian Foods: AAPI’s Guide To Nutrition, Health and Diabetes page 46.
  21. ^ Anoop Misra (5 July 2012). Dietary Considerations in Diabetes - ECAB. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 79. ISBN 978-81-312-3209-5.
  22. ^ Kaur, K., 2004. Postmodernity and Popular Culture in Amritsar'. Indian Social Science Review, 6(1), pp.107-34.[3]
  23. ^ John Shi; Chi-Tang Ho; Fereidoon Shahidi (21 October 2010). Functional Foods of the East. CRC Press. pp. 58–60. ISBN 978-1-4200-7193-1.
  24. ^ Yildiz, Fatih, ed. (2010). Development and manufacture of yogurt and other functional dairy products. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-4200-8207-4. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  25. ^ khana pakana : Halwa Puri Archived 28 November 2020 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "Lahori Katlama Recipe". kfoods.com.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Know your state Punjab by gurkirat Singh and Anil Mittal Airhunt Publications ISBN 978-9350947555
  28. ^ "Punjabi Kadhi – ShowMeTheCurry.com". Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  29. ^ "A Fishing Trip to Pakistan – Punjab (Part 1)". 20 May 2011. Archived from the original on 19 May 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  30. ^ Vijay C Roy (30 July 2014). "New tech gives a boost to shrimp farming in Punjab & Haryana". Business Standard India. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  31. ^ a b c d Alop ho riha Punjabi virsa by Harkesh Singh Kehal Pub Lokgeet Parkashan ISBN 81-7142-869-X
  32. ^ Narayanan, Vasudha (2 June 2020). The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Materiality. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-66010-2.
  33. ^ Rani Devalla (21 July 2013). "Traditional Punjabi dish for pregnant women". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  34. ^ "Punjabi Dal Tadka recipe - Tarka Daal Fry with Masoor Recipe - Chef In You". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  35. ^ "moong dal tadka recipe, how to make moong dal recipe". 2 May 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Masoor Dal Recipe, How to Make Whole Massor Dal or Sabut Masoor Dal". Veg Recipes of India. 23 May 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  37. ^ Maah Daal : Maah Daal
  38. ^ Petrina Verma Sarkar. "Baingan Ka Bharta - Seasoned Roast Eggplant". About. Archived from the original on 28 November 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  39. ^ "Mawa/Khoya". Flavours on Plate. 11 December 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  40. ^ "Rabri". Flavours on Plate. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  41. ^ "Suji Ka Halwa". food.ndtv.com. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  42. ^ "Palak Paratha recipe". Flavours on Plate. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  43. ^ "Matar kachori". Flavours on Plate. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  44. ^ "lassi recipe, sweet punjabi lassi recipe - how to make sweet lassi recipe". 30 May 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  45. ^ "Mango Lassi". Simply Recipes. 10 November 2006. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  46. ^ "BBC - Food - Recipes : Mango lassi". Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  47. ^ Mango Milkshake :Mango Milkshake
  48. ^ Mango Milkshake : Mango Milkshake
  49. ^ "chaas recipe or buttermilk recipe, how to make salted chaas recipe". 22 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  50. ^ dassana amit. "pudina chaas recipe, how to make pudina chaas - flavored buttermilk". Veg Recipes of India. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  51. ^ "Watermelon Juice Recipe, How to Make Watermelon Juice Recipe". Veg Recipes of India. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  52. ^ Haneen J. Iqbal (16 April 2021). "My Iftar Table Isn't Complete Without Doodh Soda". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  53. ^ Gobhi achar : Punjabi Mix Vegetable Pickle Recipe Archived 27 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  54. ^ Mango pickle :Mango Pickle Recipe
  55. ^ Mango Pickle recipe : Mango Pickle Recipe
  56. ^ Asian Perspectives, Volume 42 (2003) University Press of Hawaii
  57. ^ Kalsi, Sewa Singh (1992) The evolution of a Sikh community in Britain: religious and social change among the sikhs of Leeds and Bradford. Community Religions Project Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds [4]
  58. ^ Sidhu Brard, Gurnam Singh (2007) East of Indus: My Memories of Old Punjab. Hemkunt Press [5]
  59. ^ Ahmed, Mukhtar (2014) Ancient Pakistan - An Archaeological History: Volume IV: Harappan Civilization - Theoretical and the Abstract. Amazon. [6]
  60. ^ Hayter, Roy (1992) Food Preparation and Cooking: Levels 1 & 2. Macmillan International Higher Education,[7]
  61. ^ "Mangoes |TRTA Pakistan". 26 November 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2017.
  62. ^ "First impressions of New Punjab Club, Central – palatable Indian food". South China Morning Post. 18 October 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  63. ^ "Welcome to Punjab". www.punjab.co.uk. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  64. ^ "New Punjab Club". newpunjabclub.com. Retrieved 9 July 2019.
  65. ^ "New Punjab Club – a MICHELIN Guide Restaurant in Hong Kong". MICHELIN Guide. Retrieved 9 July 2019.