Forks and Knives movie…the vegetarian movement too:

Have you watched the movie, FORKS OVER KNIVES? What are your thoughts on it? http://www.forksoverknives.com/

Check out the trailer to the movie and its website for more info. This movie “examines if we rejected all animal based and processed foods and switched to a whole foods, plant based diet that many of the degenerative diseases could be prevented”.

Obviously, as an owner of a vegetarian restaurant and bakery, I wholeheartedly believe in the message and health benefits of switching to a plant based diet. We are not receiving the minerals and nutrients we need from our food in order to have optimum health.

America’s high fat diet, mixed with the heavy meat consumption has produced a huge surge in the number of degenerative diseases in this country. Our next generation needs to have a different way of eating and living in order to sustain any future, otherwise the many forms of cancer, diabetes, and heart diseases will overtake our country.

Spirituality and vegetarian:

As a vegan that owns a vegetarian restaurant, people constantly ask me how I chose this lifestyle or more importantly WHY? Punjab Sweets has always been a vegetarian restaurant only carrying items void of animal products.
It’s made me actually think of my reasons for maintaining vegan food options considering the difficulties I encounter when going out to eat with friends and family. First of all many don’t even know the differences between the various types of vegetarianism:

Vegan – No animal products including honey, milk, and eggs, even clothing from animals.
Fruitarianism – Allows only fruits, nuts, seeds, and other plants without harming the plant.
Ovo-lacto vegetarianism – Includes animal and dairy products such as milk, honey, and eggs. Lacto vegetarianism – Includes dairy products but not eggs

As you can see there are lots of variations of vegetarianism. People generally choose what to follow depending on various reasons but they tend to be: health concerns, personal preference, cultural reasons, animal rights, and religious restrictions.

Interestingly, India actually comprises the largest vegetarian population in the world. Many people choose to be vegetarian for various reasons but mainly religious and cultural. Almost 35% of India’s 1 billion people are lacto vegetarian, so many of the foods sold in India are labeled vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Considering the social and religious ramifications, many of the religions in India such as Jain, Hindu, and Sikh promote vegetarianism and even go as far as restricting any consumption of meat products including eggs but excluding milk products. It is widely believed that food affects the personality, mood, and state of the mind and lends to the spiritual state of a person. Therefore, meat in some of these religions is considered to “promote ignorance and create negative desires and wants while a vegetarian diet is said to promote desirable qualities for spiritual progress”.

Food definitely does play a role in one’s health and how optimal it is, however many in the world also believe it goes one step further and attributes to their level of spirituality. It is up to each of us to make the choice that is most appropriate for ourselves and what feels right. I always find it interesting to know the reasons why people choose certain lifestyles, however for now I think I am happy with my vegan diet.

Experience the sights, sounds, and flavor of India:

Here is a short video showcasing the sweets, snacks, food, and music of India. Punjab Sweets (Punjab Snacks is their brand) offers yummy food, mouth watering sweets, and a taste that is only second to the food in India itself…come and experience India and discover its unique colors, sights, sounds, and flavors through the eyes of this video…

The fine art of making jalebi:

We just had a great review written by www.eatinganddining.com recently. Punjab Snacks is a brand of our restaurant and bakery which is Punjab Sweets. Punjab Sweets originally began 10 years ago in a small strip mall in Kent, WA and now has expanded to their online store. Here is a excerpt of the review below:

“At Punjab Sweets in Kent, Washington, a big red-lettered sign on the front of a strip mall location is understated compared to what you’ll find inside.

Punjab Sweets is owned and operated by the Dha family. The restaurant is modern and comfortable inside but the kitchen keeps it old country, including making its own paneercheese on-site.

The lunch and dinner menus feature a wide range of traditional dishes ranging from papadi chaat (wheat flatbread served with spices, yogurt, potatoes and chickpeas) and aloo tikki(fried herb-filled potato patty) tobhindi (spicy sauteed okra, onions and tomatoes) and baingain bhurtha (spicy eggplant with peas, tomatoes and and onions).

It’s with desserts, though, where Punjab Sweets stands out.

In the eatery’s glass cases, a panoply of sugared morsels gleam.

You’ll find numerous types of burfi, Indian fudge, in flavors including pistachio and rose petal. Some are adorned with edible sheets of glistening silver.

Round pastries like ladoo (sweet pea flour) and gulab jamun (flour and milk) are accented by nearby rectangular cuts of petha (candied white melon). The array is striking beautiful.

A platter of thin, rope-like and iridescent jalebi catches the eye.

Punjab Sweets is an extraordinary find.”

Hope to see you all soon to try some of our mouth watering sweets! If you are not local, then head to the shop section on this site and get our Indian treats shipped to you directly! Check out the video below…

Untitled from Secret Ingredient Co. on Vimeo.

Lights, Diwali, and Sweets:

Diwali is a holiday where all religions and cultures in Indian hold various celebrations, but it is most commonly referred to as the “Festival of Lights”. There are significant events that occurred for the Hindu, Sikh, and Jain religion on this day. It is celebrated by lighting diyas which are small clay pots filled with oil and a cotton string as a sign of good over powering evil and light pervading darkness. We celebrate by putting on lights around our homes, businesses, dressing in new decorative traditional Indian clothes, and giving each other boxes of Indian sweets. It’s a colorful celebration as well as very exciting for all of us and considered to be a great time to start new businesses and other ventures as well.

As we spend weeks preparing the special sweets for Diwali, it is quite a sight to see the entire store here at Punjab Sweets filled with trays and trays of sweets. Boxes are adorned in the front on the tables and the lines get to be so long that the customers actually choose their own sweets and box it themselves! Its definitely a crazy week during Diwali. Looking forward to the big day this year on October 26th.

Indian food: yummy but healthy too?

For centuries now India has long been known for its spices that offer a unique flavor and taste to dishes, but did you know that many of these well known spices and ingredients offer great medicinal and health benefits as well? Turmeric is the yellowish powder that makes the curries and sauces the golden color. Besides the distinctive color it leaves, turmeric has been helpful in fighting bowel diseases, Crohn’s diseases, cancer, alzheimers, and also over heart and liver protection. Fresh yogurt is prepared daily at Punjab Sweets from just milk. Yogurt has been found to enhance the immune system, improve arthritis, and promote digestion. Below is a list of commonly used spices and their health benefits:

Black Pepper – Alleviated constipation, dry hemorrhoids, gas and loss of appetite.

Cardamom – Strengthens the heart and lungs. It relieves pain, gas, and sharpens the mind.

Clove – A natural pain reliever, clove oil is used to relieve tooth ache. It alleviates cough, cold, and sinus problems.

Coriander – Aids in digestion and acts as a natural diuretic

Cumin – Aids in digestion, improves the taste of food, relieves pain and cramps in the abdomen.

Ginger – Makes food lighter and easier to digest. It aids in cleansing the intestines and promotes healthy bowel movement.

Garlic – Alleviates gas, relieves joint pain, aids in digestion and is effective for sinus headaches. Relieves tooth ache and tingling in the ear. May be used for dry cough and congestion.

Love as a food ingredient:

Kent's International District

How do I market an ethnic restaurant in a region that is extremely diverse in population yet hasn’t grasped the concept of “real authentic” food? In a society where everything is frozen, plastic, drive-thru, pre-prepared, or microwaved, the idea that food is actually cooked from scratch and cooked with love is foreign to many. The question that quickly pops up is who really has time to cook food especially with so many gadgets that take up the majority of peoples lives?

Authentic food is hard to sell sometimes because the lure of fast food places and chains attracts people by name recognition. Most people don’t venture into cuisines that are foreign to them or do not have an “Americanized” feel or flavor to it. Perhaps its comfort level and being able to identify with the food that is served.

The downside of having a dining establishment in a small town that has a metropolitan flair is that its not as appreciated by the local clientele. Many of these suburban locations such as Kent boast a large minority population and many ethnic restaurants that mirror the community. However, the sad part is that most of the ethnic restaurants are frequented by their own ethnicity. What an attraction it would be if ethnic restaurants and authentic ones at that could be a destination for customers in small towns as well? Kent has a strip of restaurants and businesses that run down 104th in the East Hill region that could be designated as an “International District”.

How wonderful it would be to have a real international district that offered real food and services for real people? The concept is amazing and would prove to be a draw for many outlying regions in the area. This would definitely place a spotlight on the region and most importantly draw attention to the hard working ethnic businesses and restaurants that strive to bring fresh, authentic food to customers. Food that is made from real vegetables and straight from the farms. Food that actually has nutritional value and prepared with a mother’s touch. If more places could offer food that listed the first ingredient as love, wouldn’t our society be a more loving place? Stay tuned for the International District concept in Kent…

Curry In the American Kitchen:

Did you know that curry powder is actually a blend of spices and not one single ingredient? The single most common question people inquire about is if our food has “curry” in it? That’s a difficult question to answer considering it is not just one item. There are people who absolutely love the “curry” taste and others who don’t want to try the food because of these spices. The good news is that you can tailor the blend of the spices used in Indian cooking according to your taste palette.
Punjab Sweets packages our very own blend of hand roasted spices that we sell. The mixture of these spices generally includes garam masala, fenugreek, red chili powder, salt, turmeric, and cumin. However, many people personalize this blend to include what spices they like including cinnamon, cloves, caramom, and other aromatic Indian spices. The key is to experiment with how spicy, salty, tangy you prefer your Indian food to be. In fact this blend of spices is great to use on any types of food such as eggs, pizzas, pastas, soups, sandwiches, salads, potatoes, etc. Actually, these spices add flavor to just about any dish you can cook up in the kitchen and adds so much zest and heartiness. Yummy!!!

Interesting note from Wilkipedia: Curry powder is a mixture of spices of widely varying composition based on South Asian cuisine. Curry powder, and the contemporary English use of the word curry are Western inventions and do not reflect any specific Indian food.