Punjabi cuisine may be the most popular culinary strand of Indian food consumed in the UK, but how many of us really know how to define Punjabi food? 

You’ve likely heard the word ‘Punjabi’ many times, but perhaps have never really been sure what it means in relation to the vastly broad spectrum of Indian food, and what makes it unique. No need to worry, however. We’re here to walk you through just what constitutes authentic Punjabi food. 

What are we talking about when we refer to ‘Punjab’? 

Punjab – often dubbed India’s ‘loudest state’ – is nestled away in the North West corner of the Indian subcontinent. 

The name ‘Punjab’ – meaning ‘land of five rivers’, or ‘five waters’ – is a compound of two Persian words, panj (“five”) and āb (“waters”). Five tributaries of the Indus River – the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and Beas – pass through the region, thus affording it its name. 

Due to its plentiful water supply and excellent soil drainage, Punjab is an incredibly fertile farmland region where a vast range of crops grow bountifully. 

The history of the region is vast and diverse, something which must be considered in order to understand the nature of the eclectic palette of Punjabi food. One of the earliest known cultures of South Asia, the Indus Valley Civilisation, found its home in the Punjab region.

Since then, Punjab – particularly the central region of Punjab known as the Majha region – has been the site of numerous invasions and migrations, with the region continuously contested time and time again. Today, following the 1947 partition, the entire Punjab region sits abreast of both Pakistan and India.

Sachins curries in dishes

How do we define Punjabi food? 

Informally known as ‘the bread basket of India’, the fertile Punjab region produces vast quantities of crops such as wheat, millet, barley, maize, potatoes, sugarcane, maise, lentils, plus a huge variety of fruits and vegetables.

The incredible fertility of the land, paired with the region’s diverse socio-political history of endlessly shifting migrations and invasions, has given birth to a rich culinary tradition.

Typically, Punjabi cuisine is known for its distinctively rich and buttery flavours. This richness, along with a range of traditional spices and aromatics, forms the characteristic basis for the extensive vegetarian and meat dishes originating from the region. 

Here at Sachins, we work hard to produce authentic Punjabi flavours by holding fast to these cornerstones of Punjabi cuisine. Our signature spice blend employs the use of a variety of freshly crushed, traditional Punjabi spices and aromatics in order to achieve that authentic Punjabi kick.

meat cooking over tandoor oven

The method of cooking known as ‘tandoori’ is also quintessentially Punjabi. In India, cooking in the tandoor is traditionally associated with Punjab due to the wide embrace of this method across the entire region. In rural Punjab, it is incredibly common to make use of communal tandoor ovens, known as ‘Kath tadoors’ in Punjabi. 

Following the 1947 partition, which saw many Punjabis resettle across other areas of India, the use of the tandoor became far more widespread. Having migrated beyond the boundaries of the subcontinent, tandoori is now embraced worldwide as a cornerstone of Indian cuisine. At Sachins, the tandoor is favoured as a key method of cooking, helping us to produce a range of characteristically Punjabi flavours.

Here at Sachins, we’re committed to producing delicious, authentic Punjabi food. Fancy trying it for yourself? Book a table with us today.

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