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Punjabi Dishes Which No Restaurant Gets Right February 28, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Food, Punjabi , add a comment

My non-Punjabi friends believe that we’ve grown up on a diet of Butter Chicken and Daal Makhni. Breakfast with butter chicken, lunch with butter chicken and dinner with butter chicken. When I tell them that I have never had butter chicken for breakfast in my life and would never have to, they are surprised. They think I am lying when I tell them that these two dishes are not part of my childhood memory, I don’t recall them made in my mother’s kitchen.

As a family we seldom ate out, eating out or getting food from outside were alien concepts.  Despite Butter Chicken being served at all places and Daal Makhni being served as religion of Punjabis, they are no where near my favorite dishes, I consider them much hyped and low on flavors and health. From restaurant to restaurant I look for following dishes Punjabi dishes and am disappointed.

Here are a few Punjabi Dishes which almost no restaurant gets right, anywhere in the world.

  1.  Aaloo Da Prantha
  2. Paneer Di Bhurji
  3. Keema Kaleji
  4. Murga/Kukar Tari Wala (Chicken Curry)
  5. Chaapan (Mutton Chops)
  6. Meat Tari Wala (Mutton Curry)
  7. Vaingan Da Bharta
  8. Suke Aaloo Payaz Karela
  9. Sheera
  10. Methi Aaloo
  11. Taazi Machhi Tari Waali (Fresh water  fish in curry)
  12. Kadi Chawal
  13. Gajrela
  14. Chaulaan Di Kheer
  15. Kaagzi Badaam Da Shorba (Kashmiri Almond Soup)
  16. Mangwalia Chaul (Tomato Rice)
  17. Chitte Choley
  18. Aande Tari Waale (Anda Curry/ Egg Curry)
  19. Kaleji Gurdakappora
  20. Mutteran Wale Chual
  21. Singhara Choolia
  22. Bhain Aaloo


Rabbi Shergill and My Love For Music February 28, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Music, Punjabi, Punjabis , add a comment

Not all Punjabis of my age group love Punjabi music first, when we were growing up, Punjabi music was not considered very hep. Very few of us took time out to understand and play Punjabi songs over and above fashionable English songs. Somehow my love for Punjabi songs resulted in my missing out on English music altogether. I do regret it, but for sure I enjoy my love for Punjabi music and over a period of time the evolved vocab.

Among contemporary Punjabi singers, Rabbi Shergill moves me the most. His music touches my soul and shakes me to think. His own renderings, Bulleshah sung by him and Shiv sung by him are my favorite. The original songs have a flavor and then the MTV unplugged has original remixes done by/ consent of Rabbi.  Like all of my generation our first Punjabi songs were of Aasa Singh Mastana, Mohamed Rafi, Parkash Kaur and Surinder Kaur. Brought up on Indian side of Punjab we almost lost out on contemporary and folk Punjabi developing in Pakistan’s side of Punjab.

Youtube and internet has united Music of Punjab once again, singers like Rabbi Shergill from this side of Punjab and Arif Lohar from Pakistan side of Punjab have removed boundaries completely. Original version of Rabbi’s Bulla Ki Jana Main Kaun is my personal favorite and it is closely followed by Arif Lohar’s Jugni. Tere Bin Menu Sonya is another favorite.   What I like best about about rabbi is effortless singing. When he is singing, you don;t feel that he is playing any drama of any sort, his soul, his body and his words all work in sync and music happens.  I am sure he is not fading away quickly, he would be around for a long time and thanks to YouTube he would continue showing up alongside those who make Punjabi music happening.

Punjabi – A Language With Four Scripts January 6, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Language, Punjabi, Punjabis, Script , add a comment

Yes, Punjabi may be the only language in the world to be written in four scripts, Gurmukhi, Shahmukhi, Devnagri and Roman. Punjabi is a language which is owned and disowned on religious grounds and script preferences also. This indeed is very sad as at the end an old historic language suffers and develops complex around its usage.

Here are some observations, as they are all independent and for ease of  punctuation I am numbering them rather than putting them altogether in one knitted article.

  1. Gurmukhi is Gurmukhi where it is a composite word coined from Guru + Mukh, which means a language which is spoken by the Gurus. Gurmukhi script has similarities with Devnagari Script but both scripts are mutually exclusive and knowing one is not at all knowing the other.
  2. Shahmukhi is a script with two more characters than Urdu and largely readable by all Urdu script readers. Urdu incidentally is one of the few languages which are written in script by the same name. Urdu script is derived from Arabic and Shahmukhi and Urdu are both written from left to right.
  3. Punjabi in Gurmukhi Script is an official language of Sikhs worldwide. The holy book Guru Granth Sahib is written in Gurmukhi and everyone is expected to read it in that script for regular/ daily prayers.
  4. Punjabi in Gurmukhi Script has official language and script status in India, Canada, UK and a few other countries.
  5. Punjabi in Shahmukhi Script has official language and script status in Pakistan.
  6. Punjabi written in Gurmukhi script now has an increasing influence of Hindi words and is slowly becoming a different language than Punjabi – Shahmukhi.
  7. Punjabi written in Shahmukhi is getting more closer to Arabic and Urdu with lot of import words from these two languages.
  8. By and large all Punjabi speakers still manage to understand and appreciate different dialects, but universality of the language is suffering.
  9. Punjabi spoken in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh has now a huge degree of import words from local Hindi dialects. Punjabi in written form in these states is largely in Devnagri Script.
  10. On the internet Roman has become preferred script for Punjabi, slowly it is taking a form of universal script and is progressing well. Even the vocab and the dialect used on internet is getting standardized. On the net Punjabi is by and large sans religion. For instance “Kidaan” has become a kind of default equivalent of “How are you” and “Wadiya” has become an acceptable reply for “fine thank you”.  “Kidaan” has pushed “Key Haal Chaal” to the background and “Wadiya” has pushed “Changa” to the background though both are still used interchangeably.  Some would still prefer to use “Key Haal Chaal” instead of Kidaan as Kidaan is still more associated with Jats and rural Punjabi, but differentiation practitioners are  becoming few and far between.
  11. Punjabi songs in Bollywood and as DJ mixes and rap are playing a major role in rejuvenating Punjabi. No Hindi movie is worth its salt if it doesn’t have one or two Punjabi numbers. Punjabi music groups from UK and Canada are also making huge difference in acceptability of the language.
  12. Delhi is the city leading in universal vocab for Punjabi, probably Delhi is also the city with maximum daily Punjabi language users in the world. The Delhi Punjabi is spiked with English and Hindi but still includes lot of Urdu words irrespective of whether they are imports in Hindi or not. For instance Punjabi like Hindi doesn’t have a word for Divorce, so both languages use Talaak, increasingly Divorce is used in Punjabi over Talaak in spoken genre. There are a few Punjabi words which are getting extinct in Delhi, “thale” is now usually replaced with neeche both meaning down and similarly “Udeeq” has completely lost out to wait for the English usage wait. I am waiting for you in Punjabi would almost always be spoken as “Main teri wait kar rahe haan.”  Neither the speaker nor listener would notice the import word.
  13.   There is a need to adopt a standard script for Punjabi and sooner or later that would be Roman, that adaptation would take Punjabi to even much higher usage.

This is a collection of some random thoughts on this subject and over a period of time I will add more to this.

Rab Rakha of course is becoming a universal/ pan religion Goodbye equivalent. So Rab Rakha!


Tandoori Oven – North Indian Food Restaurant, San Jose, Quick Review January 19, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Food, Review , 1 comment so far

What is in a name? To me Tandoori Oven as a name of an Indian restaurant in California sounds very Californian. It’s Hybrid and people just like that. (Tandoor means oven, tandoori connotes food cooked in an oven)

So here we go:

Where: The Tandoori Oven

150 South First Street, San Jose (1) 408 392 7222

Format: Fast Food/ Counter Order Table Service 6/10

Location: Downtown San Jose - 9/10

Parking: Abundant around the area – 9/10

Menu: They got the India Map wrong…. For them the region of Punjab is on the banks of River Ganges. May God bless them, if you really care to know look at http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/india/india-political-map.htm 

Menu Rating 0/10 for getting the region wrong and 6/10 for the menu choices and options.

Ambiance -  Could be better, some Punjabi Music could have helped. 7/10,

Chicken Tikka Masala – 8/10 This is one dish which is so non Punjabi but finds itself on every menu. My friend (Mother Indian/ Father White American) really liked it, he just polished it off 8/10

Samosas – They came with Safed Channa (I prefer to call them Safed Channa and not Chitey Cholley bcause the were made in tipical (non Punjabi) UP style, though the beans were of-course closest to chitey cholley – garbanzo), portion was small, Samosas could have been slightly bigger as they are not exactly finger food, and they taste better when they are stuffed more and crust is slightly more crunchy. But they were OK. Rating 7/10

Chicken Biriyani – Portion was unending, it tasted good, good enough for my Bengali colleague who was here for the second time in one month. Rating 8/10

Karai Shrimp – I make it better, far better. The gravy was not for Shrimps. Conventional Punjabi food has nothing to do with Shrimps though but we all love our Punjabi Prawn/ Shrimp curries. Tomatto was less, Masalas were just about OK. There was no Khada Masala, as in most of the Kadai dishes, it was strangly similar to Chicken Tikka Masala Gravy.  Shrimps & Gravy were talking two absolutely different languages. It tasted fine though. I rate it 4/10, if it was called Shrimp Curry, I would have rated it 7/10

Plain Naan – You just can’t make them any better 10/10 

Basmati Rice – The rice was cooked well, but quality was not the finest. It was more of Basmati Tukda (Pieces). 7/10

Raita:  Hopeless – They just don’t know how to make it. Curd was bad, the so called homemade yogurt didn’t look like one. Masala’s were dis-proportioned.  It could be a good Dip, but Raita  – no way. 0/10

Allo Matter(Vegetable of the day)  - Just OK.  5/10

Cucumber Salad – Just OK 5/10 – I thought it would be salaad, the Punjabi version of Salad, which it was not.

Why Go? Only Indian Joint in downtown San Jose. Better than Amber, few miles away. Reasonably OK food. Not too bad prices.

Why not go? You can call it North Indian, but as they position it as Punjabi, you would be disappointed though. Food of Rajjot is far better than Tandoori Oven but Rajjot’s ambiance is zero, Amber’s food is horrible when compared to Tandoori Oven but ambiance is far better.

My 2 cents: Go grab, it looks like the best package deal in bay area for north Indian food.