Pakistan is a country where you can find a wonderful blend of different cultures and languages and same goes for traditional foods of Pakistan; no doubt they are considered one of tastiest foods around the globe. All the cuisines, representing Sindhi, Punjabi, Pashtu and Balochi culture, have a distinguished aroma, presentation and taste. Let’s talk about the top 10 traditional foods of Pakistan that will make you amazed about Pakistan’s diversity and rich culture.
You can say it’s one of the oldest and yet most favourite dishes of Pakistanis, especially in the city of lights, Karachi. Sometimes, because of its fame, biryani is also labelled as a national dish of Pakistan. Biryani can be made in different ways like Chicken Biryani, Beef Biryani, Hyderabadi Biryani, Sindhi Biryani, Bombay Biryani etc. The main ingredients of this dish are rice and meat; semi-cooked separately and then layered together to cook on a low flame. People of different regions complement biryani with different ingredients like spices, vegetables etc. In short, every Pakistani’s first love is biryani.
Filled with different nutritious ingredients, Haleem is the most popular dish in Middle East and Indian subcontinent. A slowly cooked, blended flavour of meat, barley, spices, lentils and sometimes rice too. Pakistanis love to eat it with Roti or Naan. As for the topping, green chillies, lemon juice, chopped mint or coriander leaves, sliced ginger and onion can be used to make it look extra delicious. Haleem recipe varies from region to region which is named as Shahi Haleem, beef Haleem, chicken Haleem, Bengali-style Haleem, Kozi haleem and Hyderabadi haleem.
3-Sarson ka Saag
The unique combination of “Sarson ka Saag” and “Makai ki Roti” is basically a speciality of Punjabis or Punjab region. This vegetarian dish is made with seasonal mustard or ‘Sarson’ leaves. To add extra flavour into the dish, other green veggies like spinach or radish leaves and various other spices can be used. Being high in nutrition, this dish has numerous health benefits too. This fact makes Sarson ka Saag, a must-have dish. Eating saag with “ghee or butter” makes it tastier.
Delicious taste and aroma of Pulao make it stand out among other dishes. Pulao is usually made with yakhni that gives pulao an appetizing yummy taste. Meat, rice or vegetables are saute together and then unlike biryani, a pre-determined amount of water is added. You can enjoy different types of pulao in different regions with a slight difference of ingredients like mutton Zafrani pulao, Chicken pulao, Kashmiri chicken pulao, Barbeque seek kabab pulao, Fish pulao and many more.
Nihari has been giving the treat to taste buds since the Mughal empire era. They used to eat Nihari at breakfast. It is basically a stew made from meat, flour and different spices. Taste of Nihari depends a lot on meat selection. The beef shank or lamb shin are considered the best for this purpose. In Karachi, Nihari has become a famous dish and with time in other cities too, especially in Lahore. You can add heavenly taste to Nihari by topping it with chillies, lemon, sliced onion etc. while serving it with fresh naan or roti.
Another delectable addition to traditional food is Karahi Gosht. This dish is basically prepared in “karahi” (wok-like pan), that’s why it is called “karahi gosht”. The basic concept of karahi came form Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and soon it became one of the most favourite dishes of Pakistan. Chicken karahi, Beef karahi, Dumba karahi, Lamb karahi, Peshawari mutton karahi are some of the famous types of karahi gosht. This dish is basically prepared by stir-frying pieces of meat with tomatoes, chillies, ginger, garlic and different other ingredients making it irresistible.
Meat lovers’ ultimate love “Sajji” is basically a Balochi dish. With time many changes were made into the original dish to make it more appealing. But with no doubt original Balochi sajji has no comparison, in which they take a whole lamb or chicken hollowed from inside, stuffed with potato and rice and marinated it in salt. Meat is then roasted over coals to add an extra smoky flavour to the dish. Sajji is usually served with Naan or Roti. Other than original Balochi sajji, you can enjoy chicken sajji, mutton sajji, saji with biryani and many more other variants by adding a variety of different spices and ingredients into it.
8-Kunna Gosht (Mutka Gosht):
Kunna gosht is a “soghat” of Pakistan’s one of the most ancient city “Chiniot” and now famous in other parts of the country too with little variations. The most interesting thing about Kunna gosht is the way it is cooked. It is a pure mutton dish. In Chiniot they cook it below ground level, on a low flame, for around 4 to 5 hours, in round clay pot using very few spices. Hence this turns out into a thick mild curry having an earthy scent and look. Especially, use of hindquarter (goat/lamb leg meat) is preferred. Because of the use of round clay pot, this dish is also called “Mutka gosht”.
Siri paye name comes from Punjabi language in which ‘Siri’ means “head of an animal” and ‘paye’ means “feet of animal”. Fresh Goat, beef, buffalo or sheep trotters or hoop can be used to make this delicious dish using other ingredients like onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and many other spices. This dish is cooked for a longer time period in order to get the required tenderness of meat and perfect traditional taste. Usually, people consider siri paye as a breakfast item. Combination of chilled ‘lassi’ and fresh ‘kulcha’ with siri paye take this dish to another level.
There is a huge variety of kebabs like beef kebab, Chappali kabab, Shami kabab, Bihari kabab, Afghani kbab, chicken reshmi kebab, Doner kbab and so on. People here just love this dish and in almost every family festival or gathering, kebab is a great crowd-pleaser. A most known way of making kebab is marinating the cube-shaped meat by using vinegar, various sauces, pepper, spices etc. Afterwards, skewer and grill them on medium heat until meat is tender and juicy. Marination of meat plays an important role because the taste of kebab depends on it. In Pakistan, on the eve of their religious event “Eid”, people love to make kebabs. Vegetarians can enjoy vegetable kebabs which are prepared in the same manner as meat kababs while vegetable replacing the meat. Kebab is usually served with ‘chutney’ or a certain type of dips. You can also have it with naan, roti or rice.