Would you like to learn about the Pakistani traditional food and its origins? Then read our guide for more facts and information…
History of Pakistani food
The fundamentals of Pakistani cuisine are simple and based on the Islamic rules and so the cuisine excludes the use of pork and alcohol. This is why the dishes concentrate on chicken, fish, beef, lamb and vegetables.
Present day Pakistan was ruled by the Mughal Empire in around 1526. Their style of cooking was known as Mughal which till today is an important part of Pakistani cuisine. Mughal food included herbs, spices, raisins and almonds and become famous for the dessert known as shahi tukra which is a dessert made with bread, cream, milk, sugar and a spice known as saffron.
Traditional Pakistani food
The four provinces of Pakistan have different cultures which is evident in the unique specialty dishes and favorites of each province. Fish and sea food is a top pick in Sindh, roti (bread) and gravy in Punjab, lambs and nan-kebab of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Balochistan a method called sajji used to barbeque lamps is very famous on the streets.
Pakistani cuisine is based on vegetables called sabzi in Urdu, flour and wheat products, lentils, meat and milk. Flat break is made from wheat in different methods to make what are known as roti, naan and chapattis. Bread is an important staple to scoop up food it bite sizes instead of using eating utensils.
The common sabzi include peas, chick peas, okra, cabbage and the favorite potatoes. Spices and curries are important in every Pakistani recipe, they include turmeric, paprika, red and black pepper, chilies, garlic, cumin seed, cinnamon, cloves, poppy seeds, bay leaf, ginger, cardamom, saffron and nutmeg are just a few.
Commonly meat and seafood is curried, and frying is the typical method of cooking. The Pakistani cuisine also commonly includes the use of Ghee which is clarified butter and is used in place for oil for frying. Another tradition is that Pakistanis use yogurt to marinate meats. The main dish includes curry and spices while the plain rice is the main sideline. Another dish eaten in every Pakistani household is Daal which is a stew made from lentils. It is eaten with rice, bread and on its own. Pakistanis also love to add chutneys, pickles known as achaar and sauces alongside their curried dishes to add another burst of flavor. For this reason Pakistani food is similar to Indian food as both are exotic and spice. The taste can prove to be overpowering for someone used to plain tasting food.
Pakistani food for holidays and celebrations
Food plays an important role in the life and culture of Pakistan. The food for holidays and celebrations varies according to the occasion, time of year and tradition.
Ramadan and Eid
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset every day. During the fast eating and drinking is forbidden however the use of some food particularly increases during Ramadan.
A common sight on the streets is Pakoras and samosa being fried. Potatoes, green chilies and onions are deep fried in a matter of basin to make pakoras, while a samosa is a triangular pastry with filling of lentils, beef, chicken, potatoes or onions. In addition as a tradition dates are eaten to break the fast at sunset. A sweet delicacy of Ramadan is the Jalebi which is deep fried in dough batter and soaked in syrup and is made in rings shapes.
Food plays a crucial role in celebrating the competition of Ramadan or the fasting month. This marks Eid-ul-Fitr which is celebrated for three consecutive days. The day begins with home cooked sheer khorma, a sweet dish made by cooking vermicelli in milk with dates, almonds, raisins and nuts.
No Pakistani wedding is complete without traditional Pakistani food at every event. It is said that food lover remember the wedding years later by the food only! The food served depends on the ethnicity of the bride and groom’s families. But some common meals include biryani, chicken karahi and kheer for desert.
Another important celebration is the birth of a baby in a family. The parents distribute mithai or sweets to all their friends and relatives. In addition they make an animal sacrifice and the meat is then distributed to the poor, friends and relatives.
Food street of Pakistan
It is safe to say that food is an important part of the life of all Pakistanis and only a celebration is not necessary to make that evident. The famous Gawalmandi food street in Lahore, Punjab is the heart of all traditional Pakistani food. It is open 24/7 and is surrounded by buildings which are centuries old. The street is closed for vehicles at night where food lovers stay till late hours of the night to enjoy the best local food in Lahore.
For someone used to plain and bland food, trying the traditional Pakistani food may seem as a challenge however it is a must to try the cuisine to get an instant burst of exotic flavor and spice altogether.