Punjabi food is as vibrant as its Bhangra. Who needs an introduction to the flavours of Punjab? Punjabi dhabas with the flavours of the land have been around in Kerala from donkey's years, serving everything right from the soothing and slurpy lassi to the tandoori rotis lavishly wrapped in cheese.
It's to Punjab one should head for a true taste of the land, its history, and its culture where rice and wheat are extensively cultivated. The price-high biryani-special Basmati rice is the pride of the place and the state has an abundance of Basmati rice crop. The Punjabis are experts at giving a special touch to all the dishes they cook and serve. Milk, ghee, and other dairy products are lavishly used.
However, it's pretty curious to note that in recent times, there appears to be a major difference in what's home-cooked and what is served in eateries. When restaurants have set no restraints on the use of milk products and cheese, and serve food rich in dairy products, the very same stuff is made at home with sunflower oil. Health seems to be the reason for this significant switch in food preferences, say researchers.
Though the Tandoori flavour traces its origins to Persia, the chicken tandoori mixed in native and home-made flavours is an integral part of Punjabi cuisine. Look toward Amritsar if it's chicken tandoori you have on your mind. Amritsar's lanes are lined with dhabas where you can bite into hot tandooris and rotis.
The villages are picturesque with scenes of folks huddling around tandoori ovens in the middle of their yards, baking chicken, and dining on it. That's the true flavour of Punjab… so very vintage.
Now for the fish. It's one amazing art of mixing and matching flavours and for first-timers to the state, the fish dishes are mind-blowing. The masalas are mixed, coated with powdered chickpea and fried. It's then served along with chaat masala and sliced pieces of lemon. It's again quite strange that but for fish fry, there's very little of fish dishes in this land of five rivers, Punjab.
Pickles are a must with every meal. The Achari Gosht is a dish where one gets to eat a dish of chicken prepared with achaar (pickle). Though not indigenous to Punjab, the butter chicken has become one of Punjab's supereme dishes.