One thing that Pakistan takes pride in is its food. With unique flavors, desi cuisine has a variety of dishes to offer. With little public attractions available for its residents, Pakistanis thrive in the food experience that their country has to offer.
Food remains an attraction for foreigners too, who take delight in experiencing food which is very different from theirs, full of flavor and spice. Each province also has its own take on desi cuisine. Let us take a look at some of the most famous dishes from each province of Pakistan.
Food Of Sindh
SIndhi culture is rich in its history and customs and is held close by many who cherish their roots. From their language to their ajrak, Sindhi recipes are also famous with a number of dishes.
Biryani is the first dish that comes to many people’s mind when they think of Pakistani food. Karachiites, specially, boast about their abilities to make the best Biryani in the whole country. For reasons like these, Biryani remains one of the most consumed dishes in Pakistan. While variations may exist, Sindhi Biryani is specific to the people of Sindh. The rice dish can be made with any combination of chicken, mutton, or even prawn. Whether one adds potatoes to the dish or not is a choice, but the Biryani has to be spicy and the final dish full of colour.
Being near the coast means that Sindhis enjoy a lot of seafood. Pallah fish is a specialty. Fish fillets are coated with ginger garlic paste, chili powder, turmeric powder, crushed pomegranate seeds, crushed coriander seeds, salt, pepper, and flour. The fish is then deep fried until it reaches a golden brown and served fresh.
Food Of Balochistan
The biggest province of Pakistan, Balochistan also offers the most complicated dishes. Most of these dishes revolve around meat and are difficult to cook at home. However, chicken, lamb and vegetables are also famous Balochi cuisine that they offer.
Sajji is one of the most famous foods of Balochistan and can be found in other parts of the country as well. Usually made with a whole lamb, Sajji can also be made using chicken. The key ingredients include protein, vinegar, red chili powder, black pepper, salt, garlic paste, lemon juice, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, lemon juice and oil. The dish may be served with or without rice.
Khaddi kabab is a barbecue dish, where the lamb is barbecued in an underground space. Rice is also cooked with the lamb and the final dish prepared is enough to feed a group of people. This is a traditional Balochi dish in which full lamb is barbecued in an underground space and put on fire on the peak of the iron sheet wrapping the trenched space. Rice is also cooked inside the full lamb by well-trained professionals who know the art of cooking this delicious dish.
Food Of Punjab
The most populous province of Pakistan, Punjab offers a wide range of dishes. Street food is common for the people of Lahore while delicacies like cholay, nihari, paye and lassi are common breakfast items. Punjab also uses the tandoor to cook its food, and that is where its famous tandoori chicken originates from. Ghee is another common ingredient found in Punjabi cuisine. However, the two of the most famous dishes of Punjab are Sarson ka Saag and Butter Chicken.
Sarson ka Saag
Since agriculture is a big source of livelihood in Punjab, vegetables remain an integral element of Punjabi cuisine. Sarson ka saag is prepared with green mustard leaves and includes ingredients like garlic and ginger. The saag which is green in colour and has a thin consistency is most commonly paired with makki di roti (flatbread made with wheat). Adding lassi to this meal is considered a special treat in Punjab.
As the name suggests, this dish is created using butter which can be tasted in the gravy once the dish is ready. Other ingredients in the gravy are cream and tomatoes and hence, the creamy texture of the gravy. The chicken used is often boneless and its pieces are cooked until it is absolutely tender and then added to the gravy. Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhni can be very or mildly spicy, depending on how one chooses to cook it.
Food Of KPK
Khyber Pakhtunkhua (KPK) is famous for Pashtun cuisine which largely involves meat, lamb, chicken and can also include rice and vegetables. Dairy products and dried fruits also make up the Pashtun cuisine. However, let us take a look at two of the most famous kabab dishes that belong to KPK.
Peshawari Chapli Kabab
These famous kebabs are made using minced lamb meat and are fried in animal fat instead of oil. Other than the lamb (which can be replaced by beef), the main ingredients include different herbs and spices such as chili powder, coriander leaves, ginger, coriander or cumin seeds, green chilies, corn starch, salt, and pepper. The meat mix also includes chopped onion and tomatoes, as well as a seasoning of lemon juice or pomegranate seeds. The minced meat is then shaped into thin circular slices, fried and served with raita or chutney. These kebabs are famous enough to be found in other parts of the country as well, along with many South Asian restaurants.
Commonly known as lamb chops, chopan kabab are skewered lamb pieces which are then grilled on charcoal. These kebabs are marinated in raw papaya, ginger and garlic paste, ground chili, fennel, and yogurt and made to rest for 8-10 hours until they are tender and have thoroughly absorbed all the spices. The chops are then served with the famous naans (found all over Pakistan) or can be eaten on their own with yogurt or chutney.
Food Of Gilgit-Baltistan
The people of Gilgit-Baltistan are known for their welcoming and hospitable nature. Making every visitor, regardless of their religion and nationality, feel at home, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have a warm attitude. Naturally, food becomes an essential aspect of their hospitality and a number of dishes remain unique to the region. Much like the people, the dishes from Gilgit-Baltistan are also simple but still full of taste.
This is a breakfast item unique to the region and is essentially a flatbread made of whole grain flour. Go-Lee is specially made on the event of giani that is celebrated in the month of May and June after the cultivation of wheat crops. The bread can be enjoyed with butter and tea and makes for a signature breakfast dish.
Wild thyme tea, or tumoro chai, is made using thyme leaves which are collected from the mountains surrounding Nagar Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan. The herb is then added to water and made to boil which is then strained once the water has absorbed all the flavour and aroma from the herb. Thyme is also famous for its medicinal properties such as providing relief from headache and a sore throat.