Pakistani food is thick, filled with spices, generous with ghee, and incredibly delicious.
I am going to share with you the best dishes I tried during my trip to Pakistan in this list of the 21 dishes to eat in Pakistan.
Get ready for some serious regional specialties and Pakistani taste. Let’s get to all the dishes with sufficient introductions.
I just have to speak about Nihari in order to start this list off correctly.
When it comes to Pakistani cuisine, this dish is really a game-changer for me. I’d easily regard this as one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had anywhere in the world.
Nihari starts as a heap of dry spices that are fried in fat and vegetable oil. The meat ingredients (most commonly beef shank) and a rather safe Desi Ghee portion follow (home-made local clarified butter). In a magnificent cauldron of a pot, the slow-cooking stew is then fully stirred.
The consistency is oozing and thick, so full of desi ghee, practically floating in ultra-tender meat chunks. The spice and the flavored ghee have a deep red hue.
Garnish the Nihari with a side-plate of fragrant sliced ginger, spicy green chilies and a squeeze of fresh lime or two, eaten from a shared plate-tray.
You can try Nihari at Waris Nihari in Lahore, and I’d highly recommend Javed Nihari in Karachi.
Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, is only a few hours away from Pakistan’s KP Province (North-Western border). Imagine merchants on the Silk Road taking in the very first Kabuli Pulao dishes to eat right here in Western Pakistan.
Pulao can be made with rice grains of any size, which the chef often fries in oil while stirring dry spices in large quantities. Usually at the center of each large batch, there would be a chunk of mutton or beef meat, often an entire leg.
Saffron offers the flavor and color of the rice, but the spices are usually milder than biryani. Whole cloves of cardamom and golden sultana raisins give off a wonderfully sweet fragrance, and peanuts and even pistachios can be used as a garnish in larger restaurants.
In its completely enormous stainless steel cooking vessel, a peculiar, bell-like shape, sometimes resting at a curious 45-degree angle, you can recognize pulao on the street.
Kabuli Pulao smells gorgeous, looks gorgeous, and tastes incredible, of course.
Karahi is one of Pakistan’s finest foods, and it is close to the hearts of all Pakistanis. Karahis can be found cooking in the smallest roadside shop, or in a local Rajah’s palatial kitchen.
The black, iron, scoop-shape pan takes its name from the dish. A karahi curry is typically made with goats, but also with chicken or even shrimp as a custom. The metal dish can then be its own serving bowl, coming directly to the middle of your table, sizzling hot.
Tomatoes, onions, and some form of animal fat begin with most Pakistani karahi recipes. It’s the tomato broth that gives the ultra-umami magic of each Karahi, so full of smokiness, tender chunks of meat, and a whole lot of fat-from the meat, the ghee, and the occasional cream dollop.
A huge pair of pliers to grasp the pan, and a metal spatula to shift meat around are the tools of choice for cooking this dish. Each pan is cooked over high heat, and the action of the chef follows a steady working pattern, adding oil, meat, counting to three, stirring. More oil, grip the pan to add spices quickly transfer the whole dish to a serving tray, then breathe (chef wipes a dripping brow).
This is Pakistan’s iconic dish, and can be found throughout the region.
Butt Karahi is obligatory in Lahore, and at the Dua Restaurant in Karachi we had an insanely fine Shrimp Karahi, lounging outdoors in a seating area the size of a football field.
Haleem is an incredibly hearty dish made with a mixture of barley, local wheat varieties, and chana (chickpeas). This dish shows the influence on Pakistan that comes from the center East, and other people are enjoying Haleem here for hundreds of years.
Slow-cooking, for up to a whole day, on very low heat may be a technique want to give haleem its warm, home-cooked flavor.
Onions (fried separately), mint leaves, both green and dry chilies, then some masala spices enter the mother-pot, and a final garnish comes from generous squeezes of juice at the top. This is an excellent food to possess within the morning, or for an early lunch. Its very rich, filled with calories to stay one’s energy up throughout the day. the flavor during a good bowl of haleem are often so rich that simply eating it with roti, then sipping on a couple of cups of milk or tea, can leave you perfect and content.
Enjoy an exquisite meal of Haleem within the Old City area of Lahore, you’ll watch the video here. i used to be blown away and surprised how good it was!
If you had a special Pakistani breakfast that everybody enjoyed, it would have to be a halwa puri.
Known for creating feelings of intense pleasure for the remainder of the day even to the point of laziness. One of the most popular breakfasts you’ll have in Pakistan is Halwa Puri.
The puris is thinly rolled dough, forming ultra-crispy layers without end, the folding style of which causes it to swell up instantly when submerged in boiling oil or desi ghee.
Then, Halwa is a sweet pudding like a semolina dish that is eaten along with the puris. However you also usually get some chickpea curry along with halwa and puri.
Grab a crunchy handful of hot puri and scoop up as much as is within reach of any side dish. Lick your thumbs, smile on your lips, and repeat. Bites of sweet halwa and spicy chickpeas can be alternated.
This mixture is mastered by completing at least one cup of dud pathi, like most meals in Pakistan (milk-only tea, no water).
For a classic meal of Punjab cuisine it might be mandatory to incorporate a minimum of one dish with mutton – and its likely to be a korma curry – even as beautiful because the one you see here.
Mutton korma is hearty and rich, including incredibly tender chunks of sheep or goat meat, and a red blend of spices.
From the highest of Pakistan’s Himalayas to rock bottom of the Indian Sub-Continent, an outsized portion of planet earth’s population is perhaps dreaming of their mother’s mutton curry right this minute. We had some amazing mutton curries in Pakistan, one specifically if you’re in Lahore, don’t miss the mutton korma at Khan Baba restaurant.
Another dish commonly found in Pakistan’s Punjab Province is Saag. The name of the dishes literally means ‘mustard greens,’ and with it, there can be any number of other ingredients cooked.
The mustard greens are cooked slowly until their leaves are so soft that they actually fall apart almost resembling a stew that’s so gooey. Seasoning contains flakes of mint, coriander, and chili, and usually involves generous quantities of glorious desi ghee.
(You might know the more internationally popular version, saag paneer, made with soft cheese. But with more brave additions, you will come across many in Pakistan. Enjoy an excellent version made with huge chunks of mutton meat in the northern town of Skardu, and the saag dish from the Peshawari Grandfather in the photo above was also sour (maybe made with mustard greens?), very healthy feelingin’ Soothing.) Refreshing.)
After all the gloriously heavy meat meals in Pakistan, you’ll love the cool and refreshing tradition of enjoying lassi after breakfast, lunch, or really any time possible.
Lassi is just the name of the beverage, numerous of the variations in English will simply be written as ‘salt lassi,’ or ‘sweet lassi,’ or a fruit variation with mango.
The style most Pakistani lassi makers use involves making the drink from scratch. Very cool to observe each cup of milk transform, versions including cream or maybe butter even allow you to even watch the chef churn it all by hand.
Some are often very simple , made with nothing but yoghurt, some sugar, and drinking water , or others (like the version pictures above) include layer upon layer of ingenious flavor and texture combinations.
For the richest lassi I’ve ever had in my life, head to Chacha Feeka Lassi peray wali – it’s hard to believe how rich, creamy, and incredibly satisfying their lassis are.
Few dishes may have been accepted by the people of Central Asia to eat and enjoy more than Pakistani tikkas. Tikka is a special kind of ‘kebab,’ the main thing being that tikka uses larger pieces of marinated meat (kebab meat is usually minced and then seasoned, and formed onto the skewer by hand)
From when it was a daily meal of nomadic herders, or one using the fatty lambs of ancient Kings, all the way to today’s mega-city road-side BBQs, this is really the greatest food of all humanity.
The time-less and ever-simple tradition of eating skewers of chunks of meat cooking over open fire has never and will never
Moving on now to more unique, local cuisines, from Pakistan’s northern people groups (Gilgit Baltistan), the primary thing you absolutely need to try is Chapshurro.
‘Chap,’ just means meat, and these wonderful hotplate cakes often contain yak meat. These cook on an outsized convex steel/iron plate, and are the right snack for a traveler when the weather starts to chill .
Seasoning them simply with onions and pepper, a sweet carrot, or even alittle locally grown tomato, these are going to be the sole vegetable ingredients. Using local species of wheat, the precise dough recipe, feeling, and consistency can vary widely from town to town.
This was one dish always highly recommended by locals throughout the Gilgit Baltistan region. i assumed it had been an ideal example of the range there’s to get among the food from all the varied parts of Pakistan.
One of the more famous places to seek out this dish is true along the highway, driving from Gilgit to the Hunza Valley, just past the breath-takingly pretty Ataabad Lake. you’ll see some great footage here from this incredible day of our trip.
Another of Gilgit Baltistan’s best Pakistani foods is named dowdo, which is a perfect dish to warm yourself up after an outing in the cold mountain air. The noodles can be anything from spaghetti-thin to entire-pastry-size width, a thick creamy soup full of wheat noodles and mustard greens.
Often, coming in from the cold to find a table full of steamy Dowdo bowls, like shreds of carrot or thin slices of potato, is just a wonderful comfort food.
This is a popular dish in the province of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), a semi-autonomous area north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city (and only since 1974 has this area even been a part of Pakistan).
(Note: Look for a very specific version of Dowdo, like Maltash, the crazily sour home-made hard cheese (which has been linked to the extreme longevity of Hunza Valley peoples).
12.Gyal a Gyal or (Go-Lee)
Gyal is another hearty dish from the Gilgit-Baltistan Province, more of a savory dish than the sweet pancake it tends to be.
The cakes fry in nothing but the most unbelievably fragrant apricot seed oil on a black iron flat plate using fine flour of a locally growing species of red or brown buckwheat.
Every family and village seems to have their own lovely recipes for filling these gyals, ranging from apricot oil to yak butter, walnuts to thick almond paste. However one thing they share is that gyal is always organic; ingredients for each recipe come from items in and around the home village of each family.
Many of this dish’s recipes and variations date back hundreds of years, and the host family made four separate variants for us in a single meal at one home we were lucky to visit.
Paya (or Paaya)
In the Urdu language, Paya simply means ‘legs,’ and this happens to be one among the best of all Pakistani foods.
The recipe is basic, but quite complex to organize . The incredible flavor in it comes from the very fact that some time cooks for hours – usually since the night before the restaurant serves it.
The basic ingredients include onions, red oil with curry spices, and absolutely giant bowl-fulls of bone-in goat legs and feet. Stewing for hours causes the tendons and cartilage surrounding the joint to become juicy and simply chewable, and therefore the red curry broth elevates the whole flavor to incredible levels.
This meal is usually eaten with a pile of fresh, hot roti bread. It’s an oily, meaty, deliciously slimy experience, something in Pakistan you only won’t want to miss.
(FYI: there’s hot debate on which of Pakistan’s larger cities owns the simplest version of paya, and that i need to say I can’t help them here – both the Lahore version and therefore the one I had in Peshawar – both were stunningly good.)
Biriyani can often appear as if a dish of Pulao, but from the beginning the 2 are literally quite different. Pulao has all of its ingredients fried together in oil (mixing all the flavors in each bite), whereas each spoonful of steamed biriyani are often unique (ingredients are separate).
Pre-steamed rice is layered into a huge cooking vessel, whenever sifted over with dry spice combinations of cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, and in fact turmeric. it’s then sprinkled with a final layer of toppings, usually carrots or peanuts, before being served with a couple of strips of meat.
With each layer added individually, there’s no stirring or mixing of ingredients until the rice is on your plate. You’re basically served a cross-section of the whole cooking pot, and you’ll see and luxuriate in each flavor of the dish.
As this dish are often a touch dry, it’s usually amid a entremots of raita (light yoghurt). A plate of biriyani is simply perfect for a mid-day snack walking round the streets of a bustling city in Pakistan.
When you’re in Karachi, you don’t want to miss the bone marrow biryani, probably the simplest biryani I’ve ever had, and one among the last word travel meal experiences of the year.
Chapli kebab is not only one of Pakistan’s finest foods, but one of the best foods in the world.
This is a dish also known as “Peshawari Kebab,” which is literally worthy of pilgrimage. I can’t speak more highly of it-on it’s my “foods worth buying a plane ticket just to eat” list.
In this hand-formed, deep-fat-fried patty, there is so much flavor that it just boggles the mind.
The mince is often made with buffalo meat and kneaded with dried spices, often with a few fresh ingredients, such as white onions and cilantro. Some variants incorporate tomato, but I could still taste cumin seeds everywhere we had them, beautifully solid black pepper, and occasionally hints of cardamom.
You’ll probably find the best chapli kebabs at Taru Jabba, outside the city of Peshawar, popular in street food stalls across Pakistan.
In admitting to a full-on chapli addiction, I have no guilt, this dish is absolutely fantastic, and I’m never going to look the same way at a hamburger patty again.
Many types of meat can be used in Sajji, but typically it’s made with chicken. In ads for the grill-master, the artful techniques used in the show do a fantastic job. If you’re like me, you can find yourself being drawn from across the street in a trance.
You should already be excited about just walking into any shop that serves sajji. Your meat dish was proudly displayed like a trophy, speared through and held aloft, dripping juices dropping and sizzling on a massive hot coal bed.
As it is all about two things, very little seasoning is used the charcoal heat and the consistency of the
meat. Sajji is served with a stack of hot roti bread, directly from the tandoor oven, as with most Pakistani food restaurants.
A couple of times we had this wonderful meal, my favorite was eating sajji with biriyani sitting street-side in Lahore, enjoying the food with Khalifa Balochi Sajji’s owner himself.
One of the foremost cost-efficient ways to possess a filling snack, but that doesn’t mean that chaat aren’t amazing dishes on their own.
The idea of a chaat may be a delicious but filling snack, cost-efficient and quick, eaten standing or on the go – often a well-liked Pakistani street food.
A dish of incredible variety and quite just a food name. Chaat includes style, there’s definitely a culture surrounding its creation, an easy but genius dish.
Some chaat begin with a bed of chick peas, which get a covering of sour, spicy, or cooling sauces on top. A final layer of some sort of crunchy ingredient, and therefore the dish is prepared to travel.
You can find fried dough, peanuts, even something modern like crisps/potato chips. invite ‘the works,’ and you would possibly be getting tamarind sauce, cool mint yoghurt, or a powerful assortment of fresh cut veggies like white onion, cucumbers, or red beets.
Very few foods are dearer to Pakistan than an easy plate of chaat. You’re likely to seek out this dish before long lines of individuals daily on just about every highway within the country – we enjoyed chaat from one amazing man’s cart, masterfully serving an equivalent recipe from an equivalent market street for his entire life – quite 50 years in Lahore.
Brain Masala’s spiced-to-perfection plate includes tons of flavors that will live on in my dreams.
I almost wanted to start an import-export business venture on the spot as one of the best street food products I had during my trip to Peshawar.
Tomato sauce and masala spices are what add the most flavor to a hot iron skillet. Green onions, cilantro, and red chili powder go into the dish and the brains (you don’t want to burn the brains) are eventually scrambled.
Definitely an off-the-beaten-path thing in Pakistan (this one is an awesome spot in Peshawar), but it’s worth trying to find out if you’re there.
Many of Pakistan’s signature dishes, with their wonderful tastes and smells, can pull you in.
Katakat, though is special; it’s a dish that plays on your ears first!
When combining all the various ingredients on a massive iron hot plate, the dish gets its very name from the sound the chef makes. As far as the chef can send it the sharp “clangs” and “pings” against the large metal pan trigger the rapid-fire “kata-kata-kat…” sound, reverberating sound.
With goat kidneys, cores, and testicles, the standard version of katakat is made. However a special version of katakat made with fish in Karachi was one of the most delicious Pakistani foods in this guide that I tried.
Pro tip: Pour a liberal spoonful of dark green chutney that covers the piece of meat of your choosing. For good measure, take some freshly cut red onions and a whole spicy chili and catch the whole bite in the largest handful of roti bread you can handle.
20.Pathan ka Paratha
While halwa puri may be a special and beloved food in Pakistan, paratha is that the commonest everyday breakfast.
In its simplest and commonest form, it’s a ball of dough which is rolled into a circle with flaky layers, and shallow fried over a hot plate during a generous amount of oil or ghee. You’ll find other versions, like as an example an aloo paratha, stuffed within the center with potatoes, onions, and masala seasonings.
One of the best things about eating a paratha is that the flaky layers of dough, both gooey and crispy all at an equivalent time.
The best parathas I ate in Pakistani were home-made during a village in Punjab, Pakistan.
Local Tip: always eat your paratha with a cup of chai, or maybe better, dud pathi (only milk tea). Take a touch piece of your paratha, and dunk it into your tea before consuming.
And finally, THE Bun Kebab.
Its been told to me by Pakistani local friends quite a once, “few things are more purely Karachi than a day of Bun Kebabs.”
Imagine the simplest hamburger slider you’ve ever had, and serve it with a side of mint chutney. Add a bonus topping of dish , and pile each layer on top of every other while cooking, without letting any of it leave the frypan .
Small but dense patties are dunked during a lentil, yogurt, and egg batter, then quickly pressed by hand onto the massive frypan . The buns themselves are always light bread , and cook to a light-weight crispiness sitting directly beside both the patties and therefore the eggs.
Rounds of Bun Kebabs begin as fast because the prep-chef can collect them, and that they aways accompany a side of red onions. That forebodingly dark but beautifully pungent mint chutney may be a mandatory addition to your meal, and you’re getting to want to form sure you get a whole plate of it to travel together with your Bun Kebabs.
This dish may be a mainstay of Pakistani street food everywhere Karachi (Pakistan’s largest city), but the fabulous Hanif Super Biryani & Bun Kabab takes this hand-held bun treat to All-Star status. You won’t be surprised to ascertain people queueing up to order stacks of plates, even three at a time.
BONUS ITEM DUDH PATTI (CHAAYE OR TEA)
It would be wrong to let the single beverage most dear to the heart of Pakistan fall from this ultimate Pakistani food guide.
Let alone its status as a beverage, it’s so popular that this tea might even be worth considering as a National Food of Pakistan.
Not a day of street food went by in our trip to Pakistan without one, but usually more like six or seven, glorious cups of this milk-only hot black tea. Sipping at the first light of dawn, or enjoying after a second (or third) dinner at the stroke of midnight, it is always the right time for dud pathi.
One of my favorite things during the time in Pakistan was spotting someone patiently waiting to cross a hopelessly busy street, carrying a pot of hot milk to help make someone else their cup of tea. Beautiful.
It also shows though, just how important tea is in Pakistan – and with good reason. The satisfaction that rests in each warm slurp is joyful, and there’s no better way to end a meal than with a round of cardamom infused, hot milk-only and no water, dud pathi tea.