Pakistan seems to be diverse in just about every aspect. Be it the geography, seasons, traditions or even the Pakistani cuisine. From the Khyber Pass in the north to Karachi in the south, there is a lot to appeal to every foodie out there.
Although the food preferences vary from area to area, there are a few features that are common to almost every Pakistani dish.
Pakistani Food is Hot and Spicy
Pakistanis love spices. Prepare to be blasted by an assortment of flavors with every single bite. And it is no wonder. Pakistan is one of the hubs for the global spice market and we make sure we take full advantage of this. Every dish is flavored to give you a tantalizing flavor and aroma that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
Condiments and Chutneys
No Pakistani dish is really complete without an assortment of condiments to further enhance the flavor of the already flavor-packed dishes. A popular condiment choice is the podina raita, which is made using mint leaves and yogurt. The soothing flavor and cooling effect of podina raita make it a perfect companion for spicy foods.
The Dining Scene in Pakistan
You can categorize the Pakistani food places in three major groups. The Dhaba, the lay or the driver hotels- which mean the street side vendors and small cafes, the upscale restaurants and fine dining restaurants. While all of these have their own specialties, it is the street food that is the most widely loved and appreciated by Pakistanis.
Street Food in Pakistan
Pakistan has an extensive street food scene. Walk along any street in the main city centers and you will be greeted with enticing aromas that you will find hard to resist. These street-side vendors are more than just a source for some delicious food. Instead, they are also a hub for light-hearted banter, meeting strangers who share common food interests or just talk about local politics or events. The amiable environment of such places means you are treated as more than just a customer.
Pakistanis Love Their Tea
Be it breakfast, lunch, evening tea, dinner or any other time in between, a cup of tea is always welcome. Tea, or Chai as the locals call it, provides is more than just the caffeine-kick you need in the morning. In Pakistan, tea is a lot more popular than coffee. Kehwa is also a popular choice and in winters or for special occasions, people turn to Kashmiri chai too.
Straight from the Tandoor
No Pakistani meal is complete without piping hot naans and rotis straight from the tandoor. Be it homemade rotis or purchased from a restaurant or tandoor, these wheat and flour goodies make a perfect companion to any Pakistani dish. Naan, especially roghni naan is also often paired with a cup of chai. Just watching the local tandoor walay prepare numerous naans in a matter of minutes is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Some Famous Pakistani Dishes
Here are some of the most common Pakistani dishes. Every region has added their own special twist to these dishes, but they are all equally appetizing.
Ask any Pakistani what their favorite local dish is and there is a very good chance that they will say biryani. However, there is no one way to make biryani. From Sindhi, Hyderabadi, Punjabi biryanis etc., biryani is truly a Pakistani dish in terms of diversity too. It is primarily a rice-based dish in which the rice is cooked with an assortment of herbs and spices which give it an enticing aroma and yellow coloring. Depending upon the type of biryani you are making, you can add any meat of your choice and vegetables. Potatoes are usually a popular choice in biryanis.
Sajji is a dish whose origins can be traced back to the province of Balochistan. It basically comprises of a large piece of chicken or lamb that is seasoned with several spices and herbs and is then roasted and served on a bed of boiled rice. Some variations of sajji include stuffing the chicken or lamb with rice before grilling it.
Don’t let anyone tell you that the Arabic Harrissa and Haleem are the same things. Haleem is made using a number of lentils and pulses combined with minced meat that can either be chicken, lamb or beef. Although the recipe for making Haleem looks easy enough, obtaining the perfectly smooth consistency and the flavor is nothing short of an art.
When it comes to Pakistani desserts, kheer surely takes the crown. It is primarily a rice pudding made with milk, sugar and of course rice. You can add flavor to it by adding cardamom, nuts, and saffron etc. Kheer is best served chilled.