New Punjab Club made headlines in 2018 when it became the first Punjabi restaurant in the world to be awarded a Michelin star. While the restaurant celebrates the opulence of the post-colonial era – think plush leather banquettes, a gin trolley and hand-polished Damascus steel cutlery – the food is, at the very heart of it, simple and rustic. This culinary ethos reflects the humble agrarian roots of Punjab, a region comprising parts of northern India and eastern Pakistan. Blessed with fertile soil, inhabitants of the region have long made use of whatever the land has provided.
Aside from the simplicity of ingredients, cooking methods are also markedly unfussy. The culinary canon here is dominated by dishes that are quick to cook and easy to eat – dishes like kebabs, which are skewered and cooked over the high-intensity flames of a tandoor oven. Meanwhile, the presence of foreign influences – from nearby Central Asia, the Middle East, as well as from the West – add further layers to Punjab’s culinary landscape, resulting in a richness and diversity of flavours unlike any other cuisine on the subcontinent.