Culinary nostalgia: Decoding the magic of pinni and panjiri, right out of grandma’s kitchen
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Culinary nostalgia: Decoding the magic of pinni and panjiri, right out of grandma’s kitchen

Who says pinni and panjiri are only meant for winter? Here’s an ode to the sweet classics, which have been the cornerstones of Punjab’s culinary history.

more lifestyle Updated: Feb 22, 2018 19:18 IST
Abhinav Verma
Abhinav Verma
Hindustan Times
Culinary History of Punjab,History of Pinni and Panjiri,Pinni
The assumption that these are only for winter is incorrect; you can have it anytime.

What is it about the lion hearts of Punjab that makes them perceived as a symbol of strength around the world? ­It might have something to do with the tradition of strength-building panjiri usually being a baby’s first food in Punjab, says food historian Pushpesh Pant.

“Both pinni and panjiri are a powerhouse of energy and have always been a part of the Punjabi household. The ingredients used in making panjiri are whole wheat flour, jaggery, and ghee, mixed with dry fruits. Apart from feeding babies, it’s also a nutritional supplement for pregnant women and new mothers,” says Pant, adding,“However, the assumption that these are only for winter is incorrect; you can have it anytime”.

This makes us curious — how are panjiri and pinni different from each other and why are they full of energy? “Panjiri is like a moist powder whereas pinni is more like a solidified form of it. Ingredients such as semolina are also used in making pinni. They both provide energy because they contain dry fruits along with ghee,” explains chef Kunal Kapur. However, this still doesn’t explain how these two became the foundation on which the Punjabi farming community has thrived for centuries.

“Traditionally, Punjab has been a leader in the agriculture sector. The farmers, who worked for long hours in the field, required energy throughout the day. And that’s where pinni and panjiri came in. If you have wondered about where Punjabis get their envious physique from, then now you know the answer. This is also the reason why they are classified as essential farming foods,” says Kapur.

From a cultural perspective, celebration of most festivals in Punjab is incomplete if pinni or panjiri is not served, “Sometimes as a prasad and sometimes as a sweet dish... Pinni is primarily a winter food whereas panjiri is served throughout the year on various occasions. Since they are home-made, there are variations in their recipes as well. Aate ke pinni, pinni ke laddu, nariyal and suji panjiri to ghond panjiri, take your pick,” says chef Manisha Bhasin.

However, if these two dishes dominate the Punjabi kitchen, then why aren’t they commercially popular? “Traditionally, they are made in homes only. Each household has a customised recipe which is passed from one generation to another. Also, I think that Indian sweets are an untouched territory, right now. However, Halwai and its reinvention will be big this year,” says chef Kapur.

Pinni and panjiri with a twist

Flaxseed and jaggery pinni

Heat 400 gm ghee on a pan and add 500 gm whole wheat flour. Cook on low flame till it turns brown. Then, mix 100 gm tragacanth gum (ghond) powder and 250 gm jaggery. Make sure there are no lumps. Add 100 gm almonds, 100 gm cashews, 50 gm pistachios, 50 gm cardamom powder, 50 gm dry ginger powder, and 50 gm each of raisins and flax seeds.Mix till the ghee separates from the mixture. Once it cools, roll the pinni into desired shapes and sprinkle flax seeds.

Chef Prem K Pogakula, Executive Chef, The Imperial New Delhi

Oat-crusted pinni Swiss roll with khubani

Cook 500 gm wheat flour with 100 gm semolina (suji) and 50 gm ghee. Add 250 ml milk and 50 gm sugar to the mixture and cook. Leave it for a while. Then add 20 gm each of pistachios and raisins, and add 50 gm khoya. Leave the mixture aside for 15-20 minutes. You may add 5 gm cardamom powder for flavour. Make pinnis of this mixture. In another pan, cook 50 gm apricots with 50 ml kinnow juice to make the khubani gel. Blend this into a smooth purée. Now broil 50 gm oats in a pan. Spread 100 gm khubani gel on top of a pinni and roll like a Swiss roll. Garnish it with oats and fresh strawberries.

Chef Nishant Choubey

Kabuli pinni

Heat 150 gm ghee on a pan and add 300 gm of Kabuli flour (chickpea flour). Cook on low flame till it turns brown. In another pan, dry roast 100 gm crumbled khoya or mawa. Stir it constantly so that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Turn off the flame and add 150 gm roasted flour. Add 50 gm each of raisins, almonds, and pistachios. Now add this to the Kabuli flour mixture. Let it cool and shape into balls.

Chef Rahis Khan, Executive Chef, The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa.

Nariyal and Suji panjiri

Heat 50 gm ghee in a pan and add 20 gm ghond. Roast until the mixture puffs up and turns brown. In the same pan, roast 50 gm cashews and almonds, and then grind it coarsely. Now take 20 gm ghee in a pan and add 150 gm semolina (suji). Cook till it turns golden brown. Add 50 gm coconut powder and 20 gm cardamom powder,
and mix well. Now mix this with the coarse powder made from ghee and ghond. Let the mixture cool and
add 100 gm powdered sugar. Garnish the panjiri with shredded coconut and raisins.

by Saltt Shakkar and Art of Chaat

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 14:47 IST