Love from Punjab; Punjabi delicacies becoming hugely popular across globe
New Delhi, India: Punjabis and food are synonymous just like Bengali cuisines have a special significance in the lives of the people of Bengal. The taste of a delicious dal makhani or a well-prepared butter chicken will be remembered for ages, even when the host goes out of sight for years.
What is that one essential quality that makes Punjabi food so popular across the globe?
According to Khalsa Box website, Punjabis have an innate quality of utilizing ingredients in multiple forms to make a plethora of varied dishes. Take fresh milk for instance; it is abundant in villages since most villagers owned cattle and they used it generously to make curd, ghee, paneer, and kheer and the list is endless. Although back then food was basic and the number of dishes limited, the bold flavours and hearty portions were obvious.
The popularity of Punjabi cuisines is increasing day by day. So much so that not only Indians settled abroad, but also people having no Indian roots throng to Punjabi hotels to savour their food.
Michelin-star restaurants are catering out Punjabi recipes in abundance and getting accolades for them! From starters like 'samosas' and 'paneer tikkas' to mains like 'sarson ka saag and 'makki di roti', 'butter chicken' and 'tandoori naan', the list goes on and on.
It is not just the burst of flavours on the taste buds that makes the food of Punjab so widely popular, it is the love with which it is prepared and served!
According to Khalsa box, Punjabi food is just like the "Punjabis" - rich, robust and full of life. Bold textures, hearty flavours, and spices are the staples of Punjabi cuisine. Punjabi food never disappoints, whether you are a vegetarian, a non-vegetarian, or a desert lover, it can satiate all your cravings.
Dan Bern, the American Guitarist, says "So often these days eating Indian food passes for spirituality. I don't meditate. I don't pray, but I eat two samosas every day".
The international Punjabi food scene has got prominence due to the entrepreneurship of Jiggs Kalra. As they say, "Chefs never die. Their food makes them live forever".
One such chef is Jiggs Kalra who has been endowed with titles like "Czar of Indian cuisine!" He was a renowned food critic and restauranteur who helped popularize Punjabi cuisine around the world. He made it a mission to unearth long-forgotten recipes and rediscover ingredients that had vanished from daily use and to document these findings. Kalra's knowledge of cooking techniques was so varied to the extent that he was called "the tastemaker of the nation."
Food was in Jiggs Kalra's DNA. He started by writing food columns in the 1970s and continued to author eleven culinary books. The first culinary show on Indian television was created by him in 1990. It wouldn't be wrong to say that he was the secret ingredient of the Indian food industry.
Apart from his contribution to the domestic food scenario, Kalra was the face of Indian Punjabi food abroad. He was the first Asian to make it to the International Food and Beverage Gourmet Hall of Fame. In a career spanning over five decades, he experimented with novel fusion dishes like "tandoori salmon tikka" and galouti kebab, a Lucknow speciality.
Jiggs Kalra's restaurants Masala Library, Punjabi Grill, and Farzi Cafe are still famous for their innovative dishes and modern twist on classical recipes. Once upon a time, chefs huddled away in kitchens, relatively unknown and unsung, Kalra brought them out into the limelight and transformed them into celebrities.
Chefs like Jiggs Kalra and others have been instrumental in promoting Punjabi food to a wider audience, while the rise of Indian restaurants and food bloggers has helped to build a community of food enthusiasts who are all eager to explore the risks and diverse flavours of Punjab.