The Punjab Special

On The Spice Trail with Tamarind Global

Punjabi cuisine is perhaps India’s best known, with the ubiquitous tandoori chicken, butter chicken and chicken tikka masala making the cut on every second Indian restaurant’s menu! Punjabis are known for their exuberance and zest for life, which is reflected in their music, festivals, dances and of course, their hearty cuisine. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about chicken! There is plenty of vegetarian fare. Wheat is a staple part of the diet, along with a variety of lentils, beans and vegetables. The curries and dals (lentils) are rich, laced with ghee, butter, cottage cheese and cream, and meals are accompanied by a thick, sweetened yogurt drink called Lassi. Vegetables are seasonal – Aloo Gobhi (cauliflower and potato) and Sarson ka Saag (mustard and other greens) are eaten in winters, and Bharwan Bhindi (stuffed okra) in summers. Flatbreads are varied and many, and a popular dish is the stuffed paratha. This is an unleavened wholewheat flatbread, stuffed with anything from potatoes, peas and cauliflower to white radish, minced meat and cottage cheese, and lathered with homemade white butter. Rotis, kulchas, naan and parathas are made of all-purpose flour, gram flour, makka (cornmeal) and Bajra (millet), flavoured with nigella, sesame, mint, fenugreek and spinach. Deep fried bhaturas are served with that most popular of dishes, Chole (spiced chickpea curry). The bhatti or tandoor is a clay oven which is frequently used for cooking meats and bread. The Punjabi Dhaba concept originated as a truckers stop on highways across India, but these dhabas can now be found in cities as well. They serve typical Punjabi dishes like Chicken Tikka, Chole Bhature, Palak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese), meat curries, lentils, parathas, naans, vegetables and more. Popular dishes made at home include Punjabi Kadhi with Pakoras (yogurt curry with fried dumplings), Rajma Chawal (kidney beans curry with rice) and Kali Daal (curried black gram) and Baingan Bharta (roasted brinjals). Common desserts include Gajar Halwa (carrot halwa), Gulab Jamum, Jalebi, Rasmalai, Phirni and Kulfi.

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The Kerala Special


On The Spice Trail with Tamarind Global

In these strangely housebound times, our lockdown blues appear to be considerably alleviated by experimentation in the kitchen. At Tamarind Global, we are exploring local cuisines statewise, and will bring you a meal plan with recipes each week to share our culinary travels.
This week, we begin with one of our favourites, Kerala. Not for nothing is this state known as God’s Own Country . Did you know that Kerala translates as ‘Land of Coconuts’? The word ‘keram’ in Malayalam means ‘coconut tree’, and the land came to be known as Keralam. When you fly into Cochin, you can see miles and miles of coconut plantations, and naturally, the cuisine is packed with the goodness of this fruit.

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The Maharashtra Special


On The Spice Trail with Tamarind Global

From the world-famous pav bhaji to the delicious coastal curries, Maharashtra has a lot to offer food lovers. Maharashtrian cuisine can be broadly classified into two styles – Konkan and Varadi. Konkan being from the coastal region has influences from Goan, Saraswat, Gaud and Malvani regions. Varadi cuisine, on the other hand, belongs to the Vidarbha region. Some spices like goda masala, kokum, tamarind and coconut are essential ingredients in the Maharashtrian kitchen. Wheat, rice, jowar, bajri, vegetables, lentils and fruit are dietary staples. Peanuts and cashews are often served with vegetables.

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The Tamil Nadu Special


On The Spice Trail with Tamarind Global

Indian food lovers across the world eat numerous varieties of idlis, uttapams, paniyarams and dosas, served with sambar and a mind-boggling variety of chutneys, pickles and podis (powders). Naturally, this is the only food commonly associated with Tamil Nadu. But the cuisine of this southern state is so much more than it’s Udipi restaurant specialties. Whether it is Kongunadu or Arcot, the Chettiars or the Iyengars, food takes on different avatars across communities. Traditional Tamilian Brahmin food is pure vegetarian fare served on banana leaves and is called Ilai Sappadu, meaning a full course meal that accommodates all the six tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent and astringent. It consists of a never-ending array of dishes such as poriyal, rice, varuval, pachadi, idli, payasam, sambar, thokku, vadai and kuzambu, amongst others. Contrary to popular belief, non vegetarian food is part of the Tamilian repertoire. Chettinad chicken, prawns kuzhambu, fried fish and kola urundai (meat balls) and some lip-smacking seafood from the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu are among the popular dishes.

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The Gujarat Special


On The Spice Trail with Tamarind Global

Gujarat’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the geography, history, and culture of the region. There have been a multitude of rulers here from Marathas, Rajputs to the Mughals and other Islamic invaders, but in recent times, Jain influence has made the cuisine largely vegetarian. Different areas like Kathiyawad, Kutch, Surat and Ahmedabad developed their own distinct flavours, while the Gujarati Muslims and Parsis enjoy their own unique non-vegetarian dishes.

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