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Punjabi Cuisine is one of the most distinct and popular Indian cuisines and comes from the region of Punjab situated partially in India and Pakistan. It offers a vast variety of delectable and exotic vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that are prepared with varied traditional culinary styles, particularly the tandoori style. The exotic and appetizing tandoor items and various other mouth-watering and finger licking dishes having rich, spicy and buttery flavour savoured with Punjabi Basmati rice of varied forms and special Punjabi breads like Tandoori Roti and Naan have not only made the gastronomists crave for more but has also garnered the cuisine much fame outside the Punjab region taking it to places around the globe like Canada and the UK. Punjab with its rich cultivating lands has traditionally been an agrarian society since the time of the ancient Harappan Civilization. The land in the Indian Punjab is ideal for growing wheat and is called the ‘Granary of India’ or ‘India's bread-basket’. The two major crops cultivated by the farmers of Punjab are rice and wheat, which remain the principal crops grown during the Kharif season and the Rabi season respectively. The indigenous Punjab Basmati rice has been the pride of the region being grown since time immemorial. The practice of multi-cropping is quite common in Punjab which also grows sugarcane, bajra (pearl millet), jowar (great millet), barley, potatoes, vegetables and fruits among others. Cattle primarily used for agriculture and dairy farming in the region form the major source of dairy products starting from ghee, butter, clarified butter, curd, paneer (cottage cheese) to a wide variety of sweet dishes. Thus the staple foods grown locally including the dairy products form an integral part of the local diet. Traditionally, ghee, butter, clarified butter, paneer and sunflower oil are used to cook various Punjabi dishes. However, nowadays ghee, cream and butter are liberally used in restaurants to prepare Punjabi dishes while the more health conscious households have mostly switched to sunflower oil or other refined oils. Traditional Indian spices grounded in Ghotna, a conventional kitchen device to grind and crush spices and other ingredients, are generally used in preparing the dishes. Kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves, onion, garlic and ginger are used extensively to prepare various Punjabi delicacies. Various food additives like vinegar, bulking agents like starch, colouring agents like zarda and condiments like cumin, coriander, dried methi leaves and black pepper are used to enhance the taste and flavour of various dishes. Fermented foods like pickles are also used to prepare many Punjabi cuisines. One of the famous ones is Achari Gosht made of chicken and pickles. Again pickles, particularly the ones made of mango popularly compliment many Punjabi dishes like the stuffed parathas, especially in the rural areas of Punjab region. Various traditional cooking styles are applied with the villagers still using some of the conventional cooking infrastructures like the Punjabi bhathi which is similar to a masonry oven. The Punjabi bhathi is constructed with bricks or mud and clay and covered with a metal at the top. One side of the oven has an opening where wood, grass and bamboo leaves are put to burn the fire. The smoke of such fire emits through a cylinder. The traditional stoves and ovens in Punjab are called Chulla and Bharolli respectively and it is common to find ovens called band chulla and wadda chulla in Punjabi households. Another method of cooking using a traditional heating appliance in the form of a wood-burning stove that comprise of a closed solid metal fire chamber, an adjustable air control and a fire base made of brick is gradually dying out. A variant of such cooking style that has become quite popular is the tandoori style that includes preparing various dishes in a clay oven called tandoor.
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