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London’s increasingly sophisticated diners have come a long way since thinking of Indian food simply as korma, chicken tikka masala and a Friday night vindaloo.
Many are now aware of the regional variations in the different cuisines of the Subcontinent.
Brilliant Restaurant One of the capital’s best-known Punjabi restaurants, this award-winning, family-run venue in Middlesex has been established for over 40 years.
Reflecting the owners’ background, there are Kenyan influences on its large menu.
Or opt for the classic cold weather staple of sarson ka saag aur makki di roti (mustard greens curry with maize flour flatbread) – a Punjabi dish that’s the stuff of legends (though it may be something of an acquired taste).
On the ground floor, there’s a large, busy counter that sells freshly made Punjabi sweets that are not to be missed.
Madhu’s Kenyan influences are also apparent at this popular, long-established Punjabi restaurant that’s one of the smartest in the area.
You’ll find Amritsari fish, kadhi pakoda (yoghurt curry with chickpea flour dumplings) and spicy chicken on the bone here.
Primarily the cuisine of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, with variations found in other regions such as Calcutta and Hyderabad.
Awadhi and Mughlai food comprise refined, delicately flavoured dishes created in the royal kitchens, influenced by Indian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern flavours.
Part of the reason is India’s caste system: communities within each caste have their own interpretations of traditional dishes.
Additionally, each sect of Hinduism (and other religions in India) has its own specific way of cooking, complicating the intricacies of Indian cuisine even further. Onions, garlic and ginger form the base of many dahls and vegetable dishes, along with tomatoes, ghee, cream, home-made white butter, and hot and aromatic spices.
Intricate, very skilfully made kebabs are a speciality of the region, along with biryanis and kormas.