Penang’s Punjabi Sikh community held a charity food fair last Sunday at the Saint Xavier’s Institution in aid of the conservation & restoration project for the 118-year-old Wadda Gurdwara temple in Penang. Nothing beats the home-cooking flavours of the dishes offered at the various stalls manned by volunteers who turned up to cook an amazing array of Punjabi and other popular Penang dishes for the thousands of visitors who turned up for the fair. For Penang’s Punjabi community, it was like a huge family day out. For non-Punjabi visitors like me - it was sheer food heaven!
A sample of what I tried:
Pani Puri/Golgappas - crisp, hollow pasty shells filled with spiced potatoes & peas. One adds tamarind-flavoured, spiced water into the shells and pop the whole thing into one’s mouth. It’s an explosion of flavours and textures: spicy, sweet, sour, crisp, mushy - all blended together to form little bursts of deliciousness.
Samosa Chaat - a substantial snack made of smashed samosas, slathered with spiced dhal lentils and yoghurt:
Pakodas and Punjabi Chole
Chapati with dhal & aloo ki sabji (spiced potatoes) - the soft & fluffy warm chapatis here were worlds apart from the more chewy versions one finds in large North Indian restaurants in town.
Samosas - these looked very much like those one finds anywhere in Penang’s Little India, but just one bite & I realised how tasty properly cooked and well-spiced samosas could be.
Penang-style white curry noodles - this is a non-Punjabi Penang dish which is one of the favourites at Wadda Gurdwara’s langar (communal kitchen). The ladies who often volunteered to cook at the Gurdwara’s kitchens to feed the masses all turned up at the fair as well. They were most efficient, transferring their cooking operations from the langar to the food fair effortlessly:
The Penang-style white curry mee consisted of yellow Hokkien wheat-and-egg noodles, with tofu puffs and mint leaves, slathered in a delicious spiced gravy enriched with coconut milk.
The ladies who usually volunteered to cook at the langar communal kitchen
Ice Kachang - another Penang hawker favourite: a shaved ice dessert with rose syrup, stewed red beans, jelly, nutmeg shreds and crushed peanuts.
I’m just amazed at the availability of such good Punjabi food, all in one spot here at the charity fair. It started at 9am and was slated to go on till 2pm, but most of the more popular food items started running out way before then.