The “Garage Kitchen”

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While driving home from a friends house one night I noticed something out of the corner of my eye as I passed the rows of darkened homes in his neighborhood. One garage door on the block was open and the garage lights were on, but there were no cars inside. Instead, there was an older Mata/Mai/Bibi/Bebe standing in front of a stove making roti, while a younger lady was dishing out what must have been some dal/sabzi.

The site was kinda cool and I had to resist the urge to stop my car and take a picture to post here for fear of looking like a creepy weirdo. I did, however, think about it all the way home. What made it worth thinking about for a 10-minute drive is simple: it took me back to Punjab, where many farming families have two kitchens one inside and one outside (where a bulk of the cooking is done).


Now, I know not all of you may be able to relate to my sense of nostalgia, but its likely that you are familiar with the traditional outdoor Punjabi kitchen (note the picture above). It is also likely that you have experienced some incarnation of the garage kitchen. In recent years, it seems as though there has been a growing trend abroad (at least in California) of families following this two-kitchen model and setting up garage/patio kitchens. I speculate that it is not entirely unrelated to some subconscious attempt to recreate the traditional Punjabi lifestyle. Of course there are also practical reasons for having a garage kitchen avoiding the lingering smell of fried food and takra/turka.

In any event, seeing the garage kitchen of that random family reminded me of the subtle ways in which Punjabis have adapted to living in America and created a trend that is spreading like wildfire.

Also related: Stuff Punjabi Moms Like


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16 Responses to “The “Garage Kitchen””

  1. Harliv Singh says:

    I don't understand how this is newsworthy. This trend is neither new nor recent. I have lived in California since the late 80's and have witnessed countless garage kitchens in the Bay Area. They are, however, more prevalent in the Central Valley, where I currently reside.

    I would estimate that 80% of Punjabis inhabiting single-family homes have a garage kitchen in the Central Valley.

    I'm not sure where you live, but you need to get out more and meet some more Punjabis.

  2. Harliv Singh says:

    I don’t understand how this is newsworthy. This trend is neither new nor recent. I have lived in California since the late 80’s and have witnessed countless garage kitchens in the Bay Area. They are, however, more prevalent in the Central Valley, where I currently reside.

    I would estimate that 80% of Punjabis inhabiting single-family homes have a garage kitchen in the Central Valley.

    I’m not sure where you live, but you need to get out more and meet some more Punjabis.

  3. bobby says:

    Growing up in the UK I have to say this is the first time Ive seen this…and think its greeeaaatttt! Thanks for publishing the pic. (ps. Ive met more panjabis than 99% of the worlds sikhs but this is new to me….maybe its common in cali, but never seen it in the UK!)

  4. bobby says:

    Growing up in the UK I have to say this is the first time Ive seen this…and think its greeeaaatttt! Thanks for publishing the pic. (ps. Ive met more panjabis than 99% of the worlds sikhs but this is new to me….maybe its common in cali, but never seen it in the UK!)

  5. la56 says:

    did nt you guys figure out that this is a total BS photo. all brick garage with mortar.haha

    thats a site hard to find in the us.

  6. la56 says:

    did nt you guys figure out that this is a total BS photo. all brick garage with mortar.haha
    thats a site hard to find in the us.

  7. Dee says:

    It's not great for their neighbors, who hafta live w/the smell of their food.

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  10. Dan says:

    I passed the lines of obscured homes in his neighborhood. One carport entryway on the piece was open and the carport lights were on, yet there were no autos inside.

  11. Frip says:

    Very interesting article thanks for sharing. keep it up.

  12. Jaku says:

    Awesome post.

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