Food of Punjab: Digging it out

A good reason for me to move from hotels to restaurants was to discover what Punjab was all about and to clear off dust settled on the real food of Punjab. Being born and brought up in the land of five rivers hadn’t done much justice to the knowledge I had about my own state. I still needed to explore more, read more, travel and understand hows and whys of everything. I was going to start from the very beginning – year 1162, birth of Temujin (Genghis Khan), the first great Khan of Mongol Empire. 

Somewhere on a comfortable journey of my hotel life, Punjab Grill had happened and I made a switch to the restaurant. Everything within me had screamed to go ahead. My journey of being a Chef –  leading any cuisine that comes my way, was making another turn. It was like the same turn a motorcycle makes on the curving of a road. Check speed, check gear, check rear view, check the road ahead, lean and throttle. I leaned on my motorcycle and throttled away to the next destination – my home cuisine.

It has been one year since and I have a few restaurants to look after. I put my recipes in just two of them. This was the food I was raised on – at home, in school, in college, in canteens and in local restaurants.

Leaving college, when I had stepped out of Punjab, I would look for my home food. Food that I used to eat everyday. I would go out to restaurants, check their menu and order anything that would look familiar. Rest of the food was all alien. I would pass it off as some other region’s cuisine. I was yet to understand that such food had already been termed as North-Indian food – the food of Punjab. Everywhere I dined, I would eat food without ever thinking that in future I would need to struggle my way through the restaurant industry to get simple recipes of Punjab’s food back! I had never imagined such a day. Every restaurant selling North-Indian food had a typical menu. Same food, same recipes, same portion size and same gravies. The future was certainly going to be windy, stormy, difficult, yet very educative.

Cooks in the kitchen have some basic gravies or preparations done and stored in their refrigerators – Makhani Gravy, White Gravy, Yellow Gravy, Spinach puree and Onion-Tomato Masala. Any food going out of the kitchen has one of these or more mixed into it. Talking about a full cuisine of a region, or more narrowly – Punjab, restaurateurs have managed to squeeze it all into 5 basic pre-mixes. I do not agree. There is certainly more to the food of Punjab. And I am here to uncover it all.



cooking asparagus isn’t a very big task. you just need to be in your senses.

throw in a bit of garlic, and maybe onion, some thyme.. cook with butter.. butter.. butter asparagus goes so well with butter.. mmmhhh! i’m already wet.. my mouth.

green asparagus can be directly roasted or grilled. if you wanna blanch it first, fine go ahead. but remember.. blanching takes away a lot of taste of the food. it all drains into the water. if i were to blanch, i would first prepare an extremely flavourful stock,, something that i want to blend into the food i am cooking; and use only a very small quantity of this stock for blanching. this stock should later be reduced, blended in with butter or oil and poured over the food or used into the recipe somewhere.

no flavor should be lost at anypoint.

pay attention here, ladies – asparagus doesn’t need too much cooking, it will discolour. if you are blanching, keep nothing more than 10-15 seconds depending on the thickness.
keep a check on its doneness.
some like the asparagus tender. some like to have a bite in there.
so suit yourself.

white asparagus is more fibrous. thick skin. this one needs to be peeled well and then blanched.

okay lets get some hands on this.

500 gr white asparagus, mmmhhhhhh
100 gr butter
some salt
1 ltr water

add salt to water, bring it to a boil
add butter
when the water is bubbling, 
throw in the asparagus
the water will stop bubbling 
coz asparagus
took away the heat.
as soon as water starts bubbling again,
  simmer the flame.
let it cook for 10 min.
pick a small bite 
and check if its tender 
and ready to be eaten.
if yes, take out the asparagus 
and we prepare for plating.
if you have some more 
 asparagus to be cooked,
add more water to the ol' stock, 
check salt and get back 
       to the first step.

final step.. reduce the stock,
till its only 2 tablespoons left,
throw in your herbs - thyme or whatever
throw in a full tea spoon 
                   of cold butter
and vigorously start shaking the pot
to blend the butter into the sauce.
don't stop till 
the butter is completely dissolved.
the stock is now thick 
because of the chilled butter 
you added in the end. 
this is your sauce.

**you can play this with anything 
and make a sauce out of it. just 
remember the butter 
needs to be chilled and your stock hot.
butter should be added 
piece by piece, not all together**

throw your cooked asparagus
into this sauce, coat it.
pick up with tongs and plate.
spoon the sauce over asparagus

eat now.

the real Chicken Manchow soup

now this shit nobody ain’t ever gonna teach you. because there are so many variations, everyone claims their name to fame. but.. here’s the real deal.

100 gr chicken leg, deboned, finely mince
10 gr pakchoy, washed, finely diced
3 gr ginger, wash, peel, finely dice
3 gr garlic, wash, peel, finely dice
20 gr coriander, wash, fine chop
4 pc button mushrooms, wash, finely dice
1/2 piece medium tomato, wash, deseed, finely dice
5 gr silken tofu, finely dice
10 gr indian cabbage, finely dice
2 pc fresh chilies - red or green, 
     doesn't really fuckin matter, chop em finely
1 whole egg, beaten
1/2 tsp chicken seasoning powder
2 tsp dark soy sauce
salt to taste. be careful here, soy sauce 
      and seasoning powder will have 
                already added enough salt
5 gr cornflour, mix with 50 ml water
500 ml water
50 ml groundnut oil, or whatever comes your way

heat oil in a pan. ginger and garlic. 
toss for a while till cooked.
add minced chicken. add chilies. keep stirring well, 
or you will burn the ass off.
add mushrooms, pakchoy, cabbage, tomato.
cook for a while.
add water.
add seasoning powder.
add soy sauce. adjust salt.
add tofu and coriander. cook for 1 min.
add cornflour mixed in water. 
stir well so that no lumps are formed.
simmer down the flame.
carefully pour beaten egg 
in a spiral form 
so that it stays afloat.
let the egg cook. fold the soup to mix in the egg.
serve hot.

Somethin’ green Coriander Chicken.. this one was good, yea..

this is a quick recipe of some badass serious stuff.. gather all products, blend ’em together, marinate your meat and cook. finish cooking in 15 min.

the tip is to leave chicken in this marinade for some time to absorb its flavor. even if you don’t, no worries mate,, it’ll mix up in your tummy. the mornin shit will be nice n green.
500 gr coriander, washed, 
          cut off the roots 
7-8 medium stems of curry leaves,, 
        take 'em off the stems! 
5 green chilies, wash 'em 
8 cloves garlic, peeled 
2 inch piece ginger, peeled 
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 tsp salt, approx 
2-3 tbsp oil, coconut will be better.. 
    or use anything at hand 
3 red onions, chopped 
1 cup thick coconut milk and yea.. 
500 gr chicken with bone, 
      cut it into small pieces. 
     slash with knife to the bone 
          for marinade to reach deep.

use a blender or mixer, 
add all ingredients - coriander, 
curry leaves, chilies, garlic, ginger, 
turmeric and salt. make it smooth. 
if required, add some water. 
check for the taste. needs to be 
add the paste to the chicken pieces. 
mix well. let it rest for 1 hour. 
heat oil in a pan, add onions. 
cook for a while till onions are soft. 
add the chicken mixture to the pan. 
cook on medium flame for 15-20 min. 
adjust thickness.., 
if required add some water. 
check if chicken is cooked. 
add a cup of coconut milk. 
keep simmering for 5 min. 
do not boil. 
serve hot.

Continue reading “Somethin’ green Coriander Chicken.. this one was good, yea..”

shitty ass leg of pork

wash it well first. god knows where all your pork has been to.

i was half drunk when i cooked this piece up. it looked pathetic as raw meat. had to do somethin about it.

i am using 8 kilo whole leg of pork here because i want to, you can use smaller piece of meat but don’t forget to cut down the quantity of ingredients too.

or stay stoned and do whatever.

8 kilo pork leg
10 pieces elephant garlic, peeled, crushed
1 piece ginger, peeled, crushed
15-20 pieces thai bird eye chilies
1 litre light soy sauce
1 litre chinese cooking wine
1 litre maggie seasoning sauce
500 ml dark soy sauce
400 gr fresh bamboo, diced
100 gr chicken seasoning powder
300 gr or so.. seasalt. suit it for yourself
300 ml honey

wash the pork leg. dry it with a towel. 
use 200 gr seasalt to rub on the pork skin. massage it well.
leave for 2 hours.
in a large pot, mix soy sauce, wine, bamboo, 
seasoning powder, seasalt, chilies, ginger and garlic.
add water. check for salanity. it should be mildly salty.
slide in your pork meat and leave to soak for 1 hour.
put the pot on high fire and bring the stock to a boil.
simmer the flame, and leave to cook for about 2 hours.
remove pot from flame, and leave at room temperature to rest. 
should take about 5-6 hours.
before serving, reheat the pork leg inside stock 
by bringing it to a single boil. remove.
this can be served right away 
or you can roast for about 15 min at 190C, preheated oven. 
but bae.. before you roast, rub some honey on the top layer.. 
it gives a nice golden crunch.