Most of the Indian food we are familiar is from the Punjab, a region of Northwestern India and Eastern Pakistan.
It is a cuisine characterized by the liberal use of ghee (long-cooked clarified butter), butter and cream. The main seasonings in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are onion, garlic and ginger.
The primary grain is wheat; rice is for special occasions. Classic dishes include: meats and breads from the tandoori oven, saag (smooth spinach or mustard green sauce) and mah di dal, a stew of black lentils and beans. Home cooking is much lighter, with less butter.
All of this is by way of introduction to Punjab Cuisine of India in Fountain Valley, where we recently dined. Red-tufted valences accented the windows and mirrors, echoed by red cloths on the tables and gold draperies. A chandelier gave a touch of kitschy refinement to this pleasant strip mall establishment.
Our two appetizers could almost have been a meal by themselves.