The Punjab district of northern India is a land of golden wheat fields and friendly faces, a fruitful region known as the Bread Bowl or the Land of Milk and Honey. says Rehan Haddad, the manager of Kashmir Indian Restaurant. Legend tells that the Punjabi people—apart from other cultures of the world—have a unique. unmatched fragrance that reflects the scent of their fertile soil and natural bounty: It is known as hospitality. According to Dr. Judy Cato, a specialist in Indian culture and professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University Southeast. an old Indian proverb also advises that a guest in Punjab is considered a representative sent by God. "As a result, Punjabi com-munities take enormous pride in this unique tradition of hospitality. believing that hospitality promotes brotherhood and brings people closer together she said. This holds true for Punjabi communities outside of India as well, a comforting thought since the Punjabi—purportedly one of the most widely dispersed ethnic groups in the world—profess this kind of hospitality wherever they go.
Punjabis have won a reputation for open-mindedness and acceptance as well. This is one reason why Balwinder Singh's Kashmira Singh. a Punjab from the city of Chandigarh and the chef-owner of Kashmir Indian Restaurant, enjoys his location on busy Bardstown Road. The people here are very friendly and tolerant. and they enjoy the hospitality we show them," he sad. A disastrous fire several years ago could have brought a quick end to this casual Indian eatery known for its curries and samosas, had it not been for Singh's loyal clientele. Cato, who counts herself in this number; especially enjoys coming in to celebrate Indian festivals. Her favorite is awali, a five-day celebration of lights that symbolizes the illumination of the mind and marks the approach of winter. For Singh, Diwali is a time to share.
Punjabi hospitality with people in his adopted hometown of Louisville. "Diwali is as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians:' he said. "In India people decorate the entrances of their homes with beautiful rangoli and art. and each.) house is decorated with earthen oil lamps called diyas." People get together and exchange greetings, distribute sweets, eat lots of food and show off new clothes. Each year the holiday is celebrated in either October or November. depending lunar calendar—this year it started oh ' November 12. During Diwali. Singh transports hungry guests from the small shotgun house that houses kashmir to a different world where they're free to enjoy the festival atmosphere of an Indian village.
Diwali combines the best that American holidays have to offer, Cato said. "It's, like. New Year's because the old year is, ending and people renew friendships and make resolutions for the coming year she said In addition, it compares to Christmas with gifts and lights—and the • with its fireworks." Indians also time to give thanks, like Thanks,: . United States: and. like Halloween • of year for tricksters and pranksters with most holidays and festivals – said this is a time for exuberance .• You see it in the traditional dress. The festival music and dancing, the decorations especially—in the food".
For many people "exuberant- might be just the word to capture the essence of Singh's rendition of Indian food. especially. with its brightly colored spices like turmeric . saffron, paprika and cayenne. With its sometime fiery curries and liberal usage of spicy chutney. Chiles and tangy tamarind , some aficionados might opt for word: as "energetic," "enthusiastic" or "exciting' instead. As Singh points out, Punjabi cuisine is not subtle in its flavorings: nor is it miserly in its use of seasoning. In keeping with this culinary exuberance, there are no dainty marinades or delicate, exotic sauces, but rather full-bodied masalas (spice blends) for foods cooked with liberal amounts of ghee (clarified butter) and sometimes served with a generous helping of cream or yogurt Milk and butter form an integral part of basic Punjabi cookery. and curd and buttermilk often make appearances at everyday meals.
At Kashmir, Singh invites diners to sample a taste of Punjabi exuberance throughout the year, although he admit, the Diwali celebration of lights is perhaps the time to experience Indian at its finest. His menu features ,some 50 dishes and at least a dozen Indian breads and his staff will make suggestions and recommendations in surroundings redolent of cinnamon. Cumm cardamom coriander and cloves ends.
Caw recommends the tandoori chicken I love the aromatic steam it gives off when they bring it to the table on the steel plate sizzling with onions: she said.and the color is so beautiful with its brilliant orange red pepper and gram masala spices I could eat it every day of the year.