Pakistan, officially known as the Islamic republic of Pakistan is a country located in South Asia. Generally known as the land of nature and adventure and food, the country boasts of a versatile cuisine.
As an infinite number of spices and herbs are grown in Pakistan, Pakistani cuisine has some of the most outstandingly aromatic recipes in the world. Pakistani foods are generally quite rich and generous with the use of ghee, packed full of spices and (of course) extremely tasty!
Popular Pakistani Dishes
It’s not easy to whittle down the absolute best Pakistani dishes because it’s a country of food lovers with a very expansive culinary history. However, without a doubt these are the top dishes you must try from Pakistan.
Nihari is one of the most famous Pakistani dishes. It is basically a spicy stew that consists of meat cooked on slow heat for hours.
Typically beef is used to make Nihari but chicken and mutton can also be used depending upon your preference. The consistency of Nihari is kept thick and meat chunks keep floating in the stew.
It is garnished and served with a side-plate of spicy green chillies, sliced ginger and fresh lemon. Pakistanis enjoy this dish for breakfast with naan.
Haleem is a satisfying meal that is made by combining a variety of traditional staples such as barley, wheat, lentils and chicken or minced beef which makes it very rich and full of calories.
Haleem has a very soft flavour as it is cooked on a very low heat for an entire day. It is served with fried black onions, fresh coriander, green chillies, sliced ginger and a squeeze from a fresh lime.
Biryani is a compulsory dish of Pakistan as no dining experience would be complete without it. The delicious and spicy biryani is a rice and chicken dish where layers of seasoned tasty chicken and rice are steamed together. It is also hugely popular in India and Bangladesh.
There are a huge number of variations on Biryani. The formula of preparing, the ingredients used, adding chicken, mutton or beef and adding potatoes or not, all varies from region to region and according to your taste and local tradition.
The versions include Sindhi biryani, Bombay biryani, Chicken Tikka biryani, Mutton biryani and Aalo biryani.
Chicken Karahi is a quintessential dish of Pakistani cuisine and is popular throughout the country. Karahi takes its name from the pan in which it is prepared which is black, iron and scoop shaped.
Generally meat of chicken is used throughout the country for making karahi but the meat of cow and goat can also be used. When prepared with mutton, this dish is called mutton karahi.
Chicken is seasoned with onions, tomatoes and lots and lots of spices to make it more fiery and delicious. It is served with roti or naan depending upon your choice.
Seekh kebab is a hot, grilled smoky meat kebab mostly eaten on traditional festivals such as Eid. It is prepared on a coal barbecue and generally served as an appetizer to kick start your party.
Kebabs are generally made with minced beef, mutton or chicken and are grilled to perfection. Served with yogurt (raita) or mint chutney, they can be eaten alone or with roti or naan according to your taste.
Chapli kabab is the specialty of Pashtun cuisine. The name ‘Chapli’ comes from a Pashto word ‘Chaprikh’ which means flat.
Chapli kebab is generally referred to as the ‘king of all kebabs’. These handmade flat deep-fried patties are so full of aromas and flavours that will just boggle your mind.
This spicy meat patty is made by combining minced mutton or beef with a variety of spices including green chillies, mint leaves, coriander leaves, pomegranate seeds, red chillies and so on.
The preparation of Chapli kebabs is super easy and they are typically served with yogurt sauce or raita, mint chutney and naan.
The word ‘Paya’ simply means ‘legs’ in Urdu language. The quintessential ingredient of this dish is the bone of cows or goat’s legs and feet.
These giant bones are combined with spices and onions for hours or even overnight on a low heat so that the cartilages and tendons become juicy and easily chewable. Paya is usually served with roti or naan and a side-plate of ginger, fresh coriander leaves, green chillies and fresh lime.
One very common Pakistani breakfast dish is Halwa Puri which is truly loved by everyone throughout the country. It is served in a nice platter where you have Halwa, Puri, chickpea curry, spicy potatoes and achaar (pickle).
Halwa is basically a sweet pudding like dish that is made with two basic ingredients which are semolina and ghee.
Puri is a thin dough that is made with flour and is rolled in circular forms that are then deep fried in hot oil. Deep frying gives them an ultra-crispy appearance.
This amazing platter of joy is truly delicious and is followed by a cup of doodh patti (tea) or a glass of lassi. Enjoy it on a nice rainy morning.
Gulab Jamun is one of the most loved mithai (sweets) of Pakistan. Traditionally sweets are distributed in Pakistani families on several occasions and Gulab Jamun is one sweet that is undoubtedly dear to every single person of Pakistan.
The preparation of these sweet balls of joy is a super easy task. Gulab Jamun are made by combining flour, milk powder and eggs. Small balls are then made out of the mixture and deep-fried, then soaked in a sweet and sticky sugar syrup.
Kheer is one of the most famous Pakistani desserts, served on traditional festivals like Eid. It is basically a rice pudding.
Kheer is prepared by cooking rice in sweetened milk for a couple of hours in order to enhance its flavour. It is garnished with dry fruits including almonds, pistachio, saffron and cardamom and also a special item that is ‘chandi ka warq’. It is served in mini clay pots.
These are just a few recipes that represent Pakistani cuisine but there are so so many more incredible dishes to explore. A visit to Pakistan will leave you agasp at the unbelievable aromas wafting through every street, be ready to eat until your heart’s content.