From the oily, savoury Halwa Puri to meaty, aromatic, and spicy Tikka Kebabs, Pakistani food is ready to take you into the world that you might have never seen before. It is important to remember, some of the foods in Pakistan originated where now the country of India is. Once part of the sub-continent, India, and Pakistan both share the same traditional values when it comes to food.
People who migrated from India brought with them, centuries-old traditions and values that got inter-mixed with the ways of the locals who were originally living in the area, what is now known as Pakistan but; there are foods in Pakistan, that the locals have been making from a very long time ago.
Foods in Pakistan come in lots of varieties, and many different shapes and sizes. I have listed food that is local to Pakistan and I have also listed foods that were brought by the people who migrated here during the time of separation. If you are ready to indulge yourself in tasty Pakistani food, let’s get ready. You are in for a wild ride.
1. Balochistani Mutton Sajji
Picture credit: Balochistan: Land of Beauty
One of the tastiest and simplest foods in Pakistan. As you can tell by the name, Balochistani Sajji originates in the mountainous regions of Balochistan. Once eaten by the locals, Sajji has taken people by surprise. It is now one of the most popular foods in Pakistan that is also popular in the Middle East.
The preparation of the meat requires nothing but salt. The meat is not cut in any way, just the skin is removed from the mutton. With the help of some sprinkles of water; salt is applied to the meat. It is very important that the meat comes in contact with the least amount of water, it is because the taste and the quality can be affected.
Special skewers that are almost 3 feet long are used to roast the mutton. Skewers are placed in a special way so that the whole mutton gets spread, you can think of it as a cloth hanging after a wash.
The mutton is roasted from the heat coming from the wood, that is cut in long strips. The coal and wood are not placed underneath the meat but on the two sides, 2 feet apart. The mutton is cooked slowly until it gets crisp and brown from the outside. It is usually served with lemon, coriander, and naan bread. If it is hard for you to find locals who can cook you this dish then you can find this delicious Pakistani food along with other great Balochi dishes at Khalifa Balochi Sajji.
Picture credit: Shan e Delhi
Although most of the foods in Pakistan are not really diet-friendly, and if you are someone who is going through a rigorous dieting plan, then I have bad news for you, you cannot really enjoy much (Sorry). You can munch on roadside corn cob’s stalls or things like that. When we talk about popular foods in Pakistan, there is no surprise that Nehari would be on the list. It is the most popular Pakistani food.
Nehari was originated in Old Delhi, India. It was eaten by the Nawabs of the Mughal Empire, usually in the early morning. The name Nehari came into being due to the practice of eating it in the morning. In Arabic, the word: “Nahar” means morning. After the partition of the sub-continent, huge waves of immigrants from Delhi settled in Karachi, Pakistan, where they opened shops and restaurants. Making it one of the very popular foods in Pakistan
Nehari is composed of gravy which is very thick and rich in texture. It has a thin layer of oil or desi ghee on the top. The meat can be of any kind but it has to be composed of big pieces and should be very tender. It is garnished with lemon, coriander, thin pieces of ginger, and green chili. It is served with Tandoori roti, Naan, or Kulcha. Although a century ago, it was eaten in the morning but this delicacy can be eaten at any time of the day. If you come to Karachi, make sure you try this famous Pakistani food at Javed Nehaari, you will not regret the experience.
Picture credit: Kitchen with Amna
Not to be confused with Karahi ( We’ll talk about it later ). In this list, kadhi is one of the foods in Pakistan that you probably will not find in Big fine dining restaurants. It is a dish that is commonly enjoyed and made in homes. If you want to enjoy a good, thick, and comforting meal then Kadhi should be your number one choice.
Kadhi originated from Rajasthan, India. Water is scarce in the desert and the locals had to use other ingredients in order to cook. Food is mostly composed of yogurt, milk, or ghee. This resulted in the thick and creamy, sauce-like curry that we now know and love as one of the Pakistani food; Kadhi.
The sauce of Kadhi is made from gram flour and usually yogurt or milk. Fried fritters (Pakoray) prepared from gram flour, green chili, and onion are added into the sauce. Giving it a very thick texture with crispy and crunchy fritters. Kadhi can be eaten with white boiled rice, roti, or naan. You can even eat it with a spoon. It is enjoyed in family gatherings and is a very tasty dish.
4. Peshawari Pulao
Picture credit: The Food Ranger
If you are looking for mild, not-so-spicy, and full-filling foods in Pakistan then Peshawari Pulao is the Pakistani food that you absolutely need to try. It is a widely popular rice dish in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan. The Northern Regions of Pakistan are mostly cold all over the year. People tend to eat foods that will keep them warm, foods that are full of meat and proteins.
Pulao also is known as Pilaf in Persian originated in Persia. It was very common in the regions of Afghanistan and especially the capital; Kabul. When the traders from Silk Road came into the northern-western regions of Pakistan, they introduced the locals with this dish. Nowadays, Peshawari Pulao is one of the famous foods in Pakistan. It is served in the family gatherings and the restaurants.
Soaked rice and boiled meat are mixed in a pot. The ingredients are boiled in the stock of the same meat that is mixed in the rice. People add black cardamom, black pepper, green cardamom, and other dry spices for the flavor. The dish is cooked until rice turns a little soft. You will also find peanuts, chickpeas, and raisins.
This mild and beautiful looking Pakistani food is the must that you should try.
5. Tikka Kebab
Picture credit: Rimi Dey
Tikka Kebabs are one of the foods in Pakistan that you will find in every food street that you will go to. This dish is also widely popular in Central Asia and in the Middle East. Everyone has their own version of Tikka. It will be easy for you to find a hotel that serves this dish because the smoky and charred smell surrounds the place where Tikkas are being made. This Pakistani food is made during holidays in homes but you can get them in any bbq restaurant that you find.
Just like many other foods in Pakistan, Tikka also has some history attached to it, It was a common food item for the nomadic herders, they could easily get the meat and then they would cook it on the flames to consume it. As the popularity of Tikka increased, different variations appeared. Nowadays, Tikka is a popular Pakistani food.
Big chunks of meat are marinated for some time period. The time period depends on the type of meat being served. Then, the chunks of meat are held together using a skewer made of steel or iron. The meat is then cooked over the open flames of burning coal. During the cooking process, oil is applied time after time so that the meat can get a nice golden color and does not get dried up. It is served with lime, chutney, and onion.
Nice smoky flavor resides in the meat that is guaranteed to stay in your mouth for a long time. This is one of the foods in Pakistan that you really have to try.
6. Sarson Ka Saag
Picture credit: Food Fusion
Common Pakistani food that is mostly found in the Punjab region of Pakistan. This dish can be eaten all day, every day as it is the healthiest food item in this list of foods in Pakistan. Although just like any other Pakistani food, saag involves a generous amount of butter or desi ghee during its making. It is a common dish that you will find in every Punjabi household. If you want to know the generosity and love of Punjabi culture then you should try Saag, its welcoming and full-filling nature will fill you with love.
Sarson Ka Saag simply means Mustard greens. The leaves of mustard are cooked along with some amount of spinach and other green vegetables. As mustard leaves taste bitter so the extra addition of other greens helps in taming the bitter nature of the Mustard. The mixture is cooked until the texture turns into the thick green curry. Spices and oil are added for some extra flavor.
The popular version of Saag includes butter or desi ghee after the cooking is done. It is served with Maize Bread ( Makkai ki Roti ). Saag is one of the healthiest foods in Pakistan ( Surprising ), and it will make you keep coming back for more.
7. Halwa Puri
Picture credit: Ruby Ka Kitchen
One of the foods in Pakistan that you cannot avoid no matter where you are in the region. This common breakfast is eaten all over Pakistan. Warning! this dish should only be eaten by people who are chill about there diet. Do not let your gym trainer see you eating this dish or they will have a heart attack. Like much other Pakistani food, this dish involves a generous amount of oil. Halwa puri is known to give a lazy and full-filling feeling, and that is why it should be eaten on Sundays and holidays. This is a breakfast dish and is served in the morning.
Halwa Puri originated in Northern-India just like many other foods in Pakistan. It is now commonly eaten in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. It is composed of the sweet pudding-like dish is made from semolina, this dish is called Halwa. Puris are made from frying thin rolled layer of dough that is made from white flour. They puff up when they are submerged in the oil.
Other complementary dishes include thick chich pea curry that is spicy in taste. One more curry that is made from potatoes is also served with Halwa Puri. Go find your self a Halwa puri stall and enjoy delicious Halwa Puri as you sip a cup of tea and feel the morning breeze.
8. Palla Fish
Picture credit: Food Fusion
This is one of the regional foods in Pakistan. This dish, or you can say fish, originates in the Sindh region of Pakistan. It is prepared in many ways. You can make a curry out of it, you can deep fry it or make a BBQ. Palla fish, also known as Pallo in Sindhi, have a big influence on Sindhi cuisine.
It is a delicacy in the Sindhi region. You can also find this in the city of Karachi too, it is served as a deep-fried dish that can be enjoyed with roti. It is eaten with roti or you can eat it with hands too. Make sure that you excite things up by adding some lime on the top. This is one of the regional foods in Pakistan that you definitely should try.
Picture credit: Food Fusion
At last, here is the dish that you might have been wondering, why it did not appear in this list of foods in Pakistan. This is not just food or dish. Biryani is an emotion and a feeling, It is eaten in during the moments of sadness, and during happiness; it is eaten when someone marries, and it is eaten when someone dies. I am not kidding, Biryani is that popular. It is a spicy rice dish that is eaten all over Pakistan. You will find it in local hotels and in the lavish dining rooms of 5-star hotels.
Not to be mistaken by Pulao. Biryani has a distinct smell, way of cooking, and looks that make it easily distinguishable from Pulao. Biryani is thought to be originated in Persia and was introduced in the sub-continent by the Mughals. Centuries have passed but people cannot stop eating biryani. It is a widely popular Pakistani food.
There are many varieties of Biryani and many ways of cooking this dish. Biryani is not one of the foods in Pakistan that comes in only one shape and size. The common thing in every style is what I will explain. Unlike Pulao, the rice and the curry are cooked separately. Meat is added into the curry and cooked for some time. The curry involves lots of spices depending on the type of Biryani. Then, the boiled rice and the curry are spread layer by layer in a pot. Then it is cooked for some more time. In the end, we have a delicious and one of the tastiest foods in Pakistan that you can eat.
Biryani is served with yogurt and coriander mixture, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. The delicious aroma is guaranteed to make you hungry.
I hope after looking at the list of mouth-watering and delicious foods in Pakistan, you are craving for something Pakistani. Come visit Pakistan, enjoy good meals and lovely gatherings.
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