Pakistan is a country with a lot of different cultures and people. With that brings an amalgamation of wonderful clothing, dance, songs, jokes, traditions and of course food. Pakistani food culture is unique each place has their own twist to the same dishes. Whilst also having completely different dishes as well.
Food is like a religion in Pakistan, with places open up till 3:00 am in the morning you can pretty much get anything you want at any time. Every city in Pakistan has its own dishes which they are known for. More so, even certain areas of the city are known for separate dishes. Not just the cities, but the villages also have their own food culture.
Pakistani food culture is so deep and hard to explain. I think that I can write a full 300-page book on it and it still won’t do it justice. I will try my best to summarise the Pakistani food culture in this short article to the best of my abilities.
Firstly let’s begin with the food culture of the various cities of Pakistan.
Pakistani Food Culture – Cities
There are tons of cities in Pakistan but I will discuss the food cultures of the largest ones. I will focus on the food culture of Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, and Quetta. These are the most famous cities of each province in Pakistan and I will promptly tell you what type of food culture all of them have.
Starting off with Karachi. It would be justified if I said that Karachi has the best food culture in all over Pakistan. It doesn’t matter where ever you are from you can find your national dish here but with a Karachi twist. Karachites are known for eating more spicy food than their other fellow Pakistanis. People of Karachi love to add their own influence into all of the cuisines. Whether it is Italian, French, American or Desi you can find it in Karachi with a bit of Karachiness in it. Although some might say that they are taking away the authenticness of the dishes but hey they make it so good that you can’t complain.
The simple food culture of Pakistan revolves around street food, dine in food and take away foods.
Karachi is known for a few food items I will list them down so that you can know the Pakistani food culture.
Biryani is something that Karachi is famous for and is something that is loved by each and every Pakistani. It is the staple of the Pakistani cuisine and no family gathering is complete without it. Whether it is chicken, beef or mutton biryani everyone loves it. Biryani is the epitome of Pakistani food culture.
Nihari is another dish that is predominately made in Karachi and man do they make it good. It is a dish going back to the 18th century and is known as the dish of the Mughals; since it was popularised by the Mughals. Nihari is meant to be eaten as a breakfast but is eaten throughout the day as well.
Haleem is one of my favorite Pakistani foods because of its simplicity. It is lentils, meat, and spices all mixed together to create a thick consistency liquid. Making Haleem nutritious and simple to eat. When topped with ginger, lemon juice, coriander, caramelized onions, and chat masala the dish becomes even more delightful.
Enough of the big food items. Now it’s time for the street food’s king to take over. Bun Kebab is something that every Pakistani loves. It is something so cheap and so delicious that you might end up ordering 3 to 4 of them. It’s just a bun with kebab and egg. It is simple and yet so delicious.
Chaat/samosas/rolls are excellent street foods. They are normally eaten with Chai but people eat them alone as well especially after a good shopping trip.
Naturally, when it comes to food and Pakistan you have to talk about Lahore. Lahore is mostly known as the food hub of Pakistan. While each city has their own specialties but Lahore has everyone beat with the desi foods it has to offer.
Street food vise Lahore is known for its lassi and Gol Gappay. Although Lahore also has all the street foods that Karachi has. Lassi and Gol Gappay are Lahore’s specialty in street food and man o man do they make it delicious.
Here are the things that Lahore is best known for.
Paye is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Lahore. It is sort of their national dish because it is the most eaten dish over there. Paye is something that is close to every Lahoris heart. It is gluttonous and delightful and is best eaten hot.
Murgh cholay is a dish made up of chickpeas and meat. This meat could be of mutton, lamb, chicken or beef. It is a full protein affair that is surely capable of making anyone fall in love with Lahore.
Gol Gappay or Pani Puri as it is known as in Karachi. Children and adults both love this special treat for good reasons. It is just starch balls with chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, and coriander. You then dip it into masala water and eat it. It is way tastier than it sounds and you have to try it if you are ever in Lahore.
Lassi is a milkshake that is mostly a substitute for soft drinks at parties, family gatherings and or weddings. It is sweet and even comes with a little added mango flavor if you want. Lassi is the main drink to have in Lahore and if you didn’t drink lassi then you didn’t come to Lahore.
Hum Quetta ka Pathan-e humara naam ha sher khan hai… Sorry I got carried away a little bit. Coming back to the main topic of things which is food culture. Quetta has its own special dishes which are very different from any other dishes of Pakistan.
Sajji is a rotisserie chicken made on coal, it is dry but is absolutely delicious. It is always around when there is a family gathering or a friends reunion.
Khaddi Kebab is a dish that is made underground in a hole. The goat or lamb is put underground with a sheet of hot coal on top of it and it is cooked over a 12 hour period. You have to order it the day before so that you can enjoy it with your boys.
Peshawar is known for a few things that are best made by Pathans. Being a Pathan myself I can vouch for each and everything. Whether it is a chai or chapli kabab the best thing about them is the Pathan making them. Peshawar is a place where you will find good food which won’t make your ulcer act up.
A chapli Kabab is a beef mince patty which is made with spices and then deep fried in beef fat to give it the amazing taste. No dawat in Peshawar is complete without some Chapli Kababs.
The famous Afghani karahi or any karahi for that matter is a staple of any household in Pakistan but especially in Peshawar. In Peshawar, it is made with black pepper and could be found with chicken, beef, and mutton. The meat is tender and the curry is delicious, which is a requirement of Pakistani food culture.