5+ Punjabi Flavors For Perfect Tarka To Your Punjabi Food

Punjabi Flavors

I spot a foodie! Are you fond of exotic food like me? Or maybe you’re a Punjabi living abroad trying to find your way back to your culture. In either case, you would like to try Punjabi food at home.

It’s impossible to give that much-needed Punjabi Tarka (sizzling/tempering) to your dishes without learning about the Punjabi flavors. Thus, we bring to you another excellent ‘learn Punjabi’ blog post to get closer to the Punjabi food culture. So, without further ado, let’s crush it!

Punjabi Flavors Vocabulary

Punjabis love to eat, which is no secret since they take pride in being foodies. Being such khāṇa vālē (ਖਾਣ ਵਾਲੇ), Punjabis not just love to eat but also cook food. 

Indian culture is rich in every aspect, especially their food which is scrumptious. Each region has its distinct theme of flavors. Talking about the Punjabi flavors, the food is generally more on the masālēdāra (ਮਸਾਲੇਦਾਰ) or spicy side. Su’āda (ਸੁਆਦ) is the Punjabi word meaning flavor in English.

Let’s look at some of the most common flavors vocabulary with their equivalents in the Punjabi language so that you can not only talk about the Punjabi flavors but also ask for exotic flavors while in Punjab.


Ingredients With Unique Flavors

Candyਖੱਟੀ ਮੀਠੀ ਗੋਲੀKhaṭī mīṭhī gōlī

Punjabi Dishes With These Flavors

Every area or region has a special list of flavors and spices that specifies their food. Punjabi cuisine or Punjabi food has a robust, spicy touch. Punjab is a part of North India, and the food of North India is considered one of the best offerings from the India subcontinent.

Let’s look at some of the most famous Indian dishes which are made more flavorful with the addition of Punjabi flavors.

Buttery Lentils – Dal Makhni (ਦਾਲ ਮੱਖਣੀ)

Makhaṇa (ਮੱਖਣ) or Butter, as well as Ghi’ō (ਘਿਓ) or clarified butter is an ultimate flavor-enhancing ingredient for every Punjabi dish. You can simply pour it on a roti or paratha and it will give a mouth-watering aroma and taste.

Makhaṇa (ਮੱਖਣ) enhances the flavor of Dal Makhni (ਦਾਲ ਮੱਖਣੀ), translated as Buttery Lentils. It is popular everywhere in India. From small-scale Punjabi dhaba businesses to five-star hotels, everyone is fond of it. It is served with plain rice, roti/paratha, and a generous amount of butter to enhance the flavor. Besides, dal bukhara is a similar, famous dish among Indian food too.

Spiced Chickpeas – Canā Masālā (ਚਨਾ ਮਸਾਲਾ)

Let’s move on to the second most loved Punjabi dish, the Canā masālā (ਚਨਾ ਮਸਾਲਾ). You can add a specific spice blend to the dish, which goes by the same name. Every Punjabi would kill to get this flavor.

Its variety is dry and moist. The absence of onions might make the curry or gravy in the dish less satisfying, but the taste of Canā masālā comes from the blend of coriander seeds, tomatoes, and spices. It has a mildly spicy sauce.

Cottage Cheese Gravy – Panīra Masālā (ਪਨੀਰ ਮਸਾਲਾ)

The Panīra (ਪਨੀਰ) or cottage cheese is a star attraction in many Punjabi dishes like Panīra Masālā, Śāhī panīra, and Pālaka panīra. It’s closest equivalent could be tofu. Panīra lends creamy, rich and delicious flavors to any dish. It is used in the vegetarian version of butter chicken with the same thick gravy or creamy sauce as the original. 

Cubed-shaped homemade cheese is added to spinach to enhance its flavor; thus, this mouth-watering dish is called Pālaka panīra (ਪਾਲਕ ਪਨੀਰ). Panīra parāṭhā and Panīra kōphatā also include a taste of delicately cooked paneer. Meatballs made of potato and paneer, cooked in thick creamy tomato sauce together add a subtle flavor to Malā’ī kōphatā. There is no specific date and time to have these dishes, but they make for a comforting meal during chilly winter evenings.

Tikka_Punjabi flavors

BBQ – Tikka (ਟਿੱਕਾ)

One of the signature flavors that enhance Punjabis’ taste buds is the tikka or Ṭikā (ਟਿੱਕਾ) which is equivalent to a BBQ flavor. It energizes any Tikka dish. Punjabis genuinely enjoy the crispy and yummy Chicken tikka, lamb tikka, and goat tikka, and they are delicately cooked on a seekh (a sharp, round, and long tool used for this purpose).

These meats are roasted on fire along with some bell peppers, fresh spices, and fresh mushrooms and have a unique blend of soft, sour flavor. Serving them with wheat bread filled with new garlic paste or cheese called garlic naan and cheese naan explains the excellent taste of Punjabis.

Fried Fritters In Buttermilk Gravy – Karī Pakauṛā (ਕਰੀ ਪਕੌੜਾ)

Karī Pakauṛā (ਕਰੀ ਪਕੌੜਾ) is a staple food in Punjab, made with curd or buttermilk, and is among one the simple dishes to make. This has a mildly spicy flavor. Many people confuse Karī with curry because of similar sounding names but this one is different from the usual famous Indian curries like the lamb curry, coconut curry, and chicken curry. 

Grilled/Roasted Chicken – Tadūrī Cikana (ਤੰਦੂਰੀ ਚਿਕਨ)

Tandoori chicken or Tadūrī cikana is hard to resist. This grilled chicken has a flavor of roasted spices and curd which are used to marinate the chicken. This appetizer has an aroma thanks to the addition of a chickpea flavor. Tadūrī cikana is served with sliced green chilies, spicy sauce called chutney, and sometimes sliced, raw onions. It is considered the main course and is often served with rice. Lamb rice is up to the Punjabis’ taste buds too.

Punjabi Flavors: Spices And Condiments

Punjabi Masale (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਸਾਲੇ) are subtly balanced and unique Indian spice blends. They are usually made out of ground whole spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, pepper mace, cloves, star anise, black cardamom, fennel and cinnamon. That’s how this bouquet of aromatic flavors gives Punjabi cuisine an authentic feel.

Spices_Punjabi Flavors

Forms Of Spices

Forms of spices are also essential to produce extraordinary flavors. They can be whole, chopped, ground, roasted, sautéed, fried, and topped. Spices add a unique flavor to any form of food. Some people add spices at the end to enhance the flavor and not to extract the natural flavor. The zest with heavy flavor is added at the beginning.

Let’s look at some other condiments to enhance the flavor of your dishes. Essential Punjabi Masale (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ ਮਸਾਲੇ) include:

  • Saffron: Kēsara (ਕੇਸਰ)
  • Turmeric: Haladī (ਹਲਦੀ)
  • Cumin seeds: Jīrā (ਜੀਰਾ)
  • Nutmeg: Jā’iphala (ਜਾਇਫਲ)
  • Cardamom: Ilā’icī (ਇਲਾਇਚੀ)
  • Coriander: Dhanī’ā (ਧਨੀਆ)
  • Paprika powder: Pīsī lāla miraca (ਪੀਸੀ ਲਾਲ ਮਿਰਚ)

Spices are made from fresh herbs too.

Dipping Sauce – Chutney (ਚਟਨੀ)

Chutney is a sauce (can be thick or thin) made with different spices and flavors. Calling it gravy sauce won’t be wrong either. Famous chutneys include Punjabi food ingredients like tomatoes out of which is made the famous tomato chutney – tomatoes cooked or simply chopped tomatoes. Other chutneys include mint chutney (Pudīnē dī caṭanī), coriander chutney (Dhanī’ē dī caṭanī), plum chutney (ālū bukhārē dī caṭanī), tamarind chutney (Imalī dī caṭanī) and jujuba chutney (Bēra dī caṭanī).

Spiced Pickle – Acāra( ਅਚਾਰ)

Pickles (acāra) are prepared by fermenting the ingredients in various spice blends in a lidded jar or container for some days. It includes mango pickle (Aba dā acāra), red chili pickle (Lāla miraca dā acāra), lemon pickle (Nibū dā acāra), carrot pickle (Gājara dā acāra), mixed vegetables cooked acāra. The main spices and sauces used to make these pickles are vinegar (Sirakā), green chillis (Miraca), salt (Lūṇa), sugar (Khaḍa), cumin seeds (Jīrā), turmeric (Haladī), and so on.

Fruit Preserve – Murabā (ਮੁਰੱਬਾ)

Murabā is a sweet preserve made with berries or fruits, sugar, and salt. This condiment has a wide variety. Punjabis mostly prepare these preserves from mango (Aba dā murabā), raw mango (Kērī murabā), gooseberry (Karaudā murabā), among others.

How Do Punjabis Punjabanize Different Foods

Punjabis are very creative and are big fans of flavors. They even give a Punjabi touch to different cuisines by adding some masalas. Mark your Punjabi calendar with different dates to try the Punjabanized exotic dishes.

Here are two dishes that have been modified by the Punjabis in a crazy good way. 

Punjabanize Your Ramen!

Nowadays, ramen or Maggi noodles are the talks of the town among Indians, and they cook them in their desi styles by adding chaat masala, garam masala, sirka (vinegar), and a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, capsicums, carrots, peas, and sauteed potatoes (mildly spiced potatoes) in them.

Maggi noodles_Punjabi flavors

Punjabanize Your Dumplings!

Craving desi dumplings is no more a problem for Punjabis as they also serve desi dumplings by filling them with different ingredients and calling them Punjabi momos. A highly popular dish in India that comes from the northeastern regions of India, Nepal and Tibet collectively, momos in India include Qeema momos, Soup momos, steamed momos, sweet momos, veg momos, tandoori momos, Shogo Shabril momos, wheat momos, and more.

Wrapping Up

You have got the taste of Punjabi flavors to experiment with, and Punjabanize everything!!! And since you have achieved a new level, kudos to you! But the struggle doesn’t end here since you’ve got more and more milestones to achieve. Learning Punjabi might seem harsh, but nothing is complicated with the help of a friend, and the journey of learning the Punjabi language can be made more accessible with your new friend, aka Ling app.

If you make friends with the Ling app, then that could be by far the best friendship you have ever had. “Why”? You may ask. Here are three best reasons for that.

  • A friend in need is a friend indeed, hence the Ling App, to the rescue!
  • A friend is the best advisor, hence the Ling App, to guide you about why to get started, what to learn and how to become fluent in Punjabi.
  • Last but not least, a friend helps you overcome your fears, hence the Ling App, there to kill your worries by making Punjabi the most straightforward language for you to learn and motivating you. Dory, keep learning!

Download the app from Google Playstore or App Store and start learning Punjabi now!

Updated by Punya

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