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Pakistani Food: 34 Popular Dishes + 6 Secret Recipe Tips

If you’re a fan of spicy and flavorful food, then Pakistani cuisine is sure to be a treat for your taste buds. Pakistani cuisine integrates a blend of multiple regional and cultural influences, including Indian, Persian, and Central Asian. Read on to find the most famous dishes from the Pakistani cuisine.

It’s also packed with history, dating back to the Mughal era. Over time, the food did evolve and added more herbs, seasonings, and aromatic spices, which have become hallmarks of the cuisine. In this article, we’ll look at the best and most popular Pakistani dishes you must try at least once.

Traditional Pakistani Cuisine

Traditional Pakistani Cuisine

Let’s start with the most traditional dishes, which capture the country’s rich flavors and heritage.

Biryani

Biryani

Biryani is a beloved dish in Pakistan and is often served on special occasions. It’s a basmati rice-based dish, and Pakistanis usually serve it with meat, vegetables, and several spices.

The spices for the meat include cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, and cumin, while the rice is cooked separately using saffron and other spices.

You don’t have to stick to a specific type of meat when making biryani, as you can use lamb, beef, or chicken. Typically, Pakistanis serve biryani with raita—a yogurt dish we’ll talk about later—to balance the spiciness of the meat and rice.

The dish is so popular all over Pakistan that certain regions have their twists on it. For example, Sindhi biryani integrates green chilies and dried plums, which gives the dish a more unique spicy and sour taste. It also has yellow food coloring, giving the dish a more vibrant look.

Bombay biryani, on the other hand, adds fried potatoes. For the Bombay method, the meat—typically chicken or mutton—is usually marinated in classic biryani spices, such as green chilies, plums, lemon juice, coriander, and mint. This gives the dish a final tangy flavor and aromatic smell.

Nihari

Nihari

Nihari is a popular breakfast dish in Pakistan. It’s made with slow-cooked beef or lamb shank along with several spices, including peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves. The dish also has garlic, ginger, and onions, which give it an extremely distinct flavor.

Pakistanis usually cook the dish overnight with bone marrow to allow the meat to become flavorful and tender. Then, they serve it with naan or rice, although naan is the more popular choice.

With its heartiness and rich flavor, Nihari is the perfect dish for cold winter mornings, and it’s usually eaten as a treat on special days like weekends or holidays.

Nihari was made as a rich and flavorful, slow-cooked stew for the royal courts of the Mughal Empire. It’s said that nihari was the favorite dish of Mughal emperors.

It’s a derivation of the Arabic word “Nahar,” which means “morning.” This is because it’s cooked overnight and consumed in the morning as a rich breakfast.

Haleem

Haleem

Haleem is a thick and hearty dish made from lentils, wheat, barley, and meat. The meat is typically mutton or beef.

The ingredients are slow-cooked for several hours until they form a smooth, porridge-like consistency.
The spices and fresh coriander, lemon, ginger, and fried onions only enhance the taste and aroma of the dish.

Typically, Pakistanis eat haleem during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Haleem originated in the Middle East and the Arab region in particular. It’s believed to have been introduced to the Indian subcontinent during the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire eras.

It’s said that the dish was brought to the region by the Arab traders and soldiers who settled on the subcontinent. Over time, the locals adopted it, and it became an integral part of the culinary traditions of present-day Pakistan.

Seekh Kebab

Seekh Kebab

Seekh kebab is a grilled dish made from minced beef or lamb meat mixed with several herbs and spices.
After you’ve prepped your ingredients, you should shape your mixture into skewers and cook them over charcoal or in a tandoor (clay oven).

The kebabs that come out after are juicy and flavorful. Finally, serve your seekh kebabs with naan bread, mint chutney, or salad.

Like a few Pakistani foods, seekh kebabs originated in the Middle East, especially in Persia—modern-day Iran—and the ancient city of Isfahan.

The Mughals, of Central Asian and Persian heritage, brought their culinary traditions and techniques to the Indian subcontinent. Seekh kebabs were one of the dishes that became popular during this time and were subsequently adopted and adapted by the local populations.

The name “seekh” refers to the skewer on which the kebabs are traditionally cooked, and the word “kebab” itself is derived from the Persian word “kabāb,” which means grilled meat.

Samosas

Samosas

Samosas are crispy, fried pastries that make for an excellent savory delight. You can fill them with spiced potatoes, peas, or lentils.

You can find them as a street snack all over Pakistan, and they often come with mint chutney and tamarind sauce.

The combination is delicious, and the crispy samosa shells give way to the soft, spicy filling. After that, the mint chutney adds a refreshing touch, and the tamarind sauce provides a sweet and tangy finish.

The exact origin of samosas is a subject of debate among culinary historians. Generally, the suggestion is that traders and merchants from the Middle East brought them to South Asia.

Most Popular Street Food in Pakistan

Most Popular Street Food in Pakistan

Street food is just something else—it’s the hallmark of a country, and it sets it apart in many ways.
In this section, we’ll go over the most popular street foods in Pakistan.

Gol Gappay (Pani Puri)

Gol Gappay (Pani Puri)

Gol gappay is also known as pani puri or puchka in certain parts of South Asia. They’re crisp, hollow puris filled with a mixture of tangy tamarind water, spiced potato, chickpeas, and a variety of chutneys.

They’re a favorite street snack across Pakistan because they’re bursting with flavor and their fun texture.

Bun Kebab

Bun Kebab

Bun kebabs are more or less the Pakistani version of burgers. They consist of a spicy and flavorful patty made from minced meat, usually beef or chicken.

The meat is mixed with spices, herbs, and onions, and to make the patty, you should grill it or shallow-fry it and serve it in a soft bun.

Typically, bun kebabs come with chutney, sliced onions, and sometimes a fried egg.

Chicken Tikka

Chicken Tikka

Chicken tikka is a popular grilled chicken dish marinated in a blend of spices, yogurt, and lemon juice.
After you marinate the chicken, you skewer it and cook it in a tandoor or on a grill until it’s tender and charred on the outside.

Chicken tikka is often served with naan bread, mint chutney, and salad.

Chapli Kebab

Chapli Kebab

Chapli kebab is a street food favorite in Pakistan. These flat, round kebabs are made from lamb or beef minced meat and seasoned with a delightful blend of spices, onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

To cook chapli kebabs, shallow-fry them until they develop a crispy exterior. When serving, you should offer chapli kebabs with naan bread, raita, and salad.

Chaat (Dahi Bhalla)

Chaat (Dahi Bhalla)

This savory and tangy combination is among the most popular Pakistani street foods. Chaat, or dahi bhalla, are crispy fried dough balls that you dunk in yogurt, and top with chickpeas, potatoes, chutneys, and spices.

The spices include chili flakes, coriander, and cumin. This makes each of them a bomb of textures and tastes, from the soft bhalla to the crunchy onions to the creamy yogurt and spicy chutneys.

The combination of sweet and savory makes for a delightful taste, and that’s why chaat is such a beloved street snack across Pakistan.

Pakistani Food in the World

Pakistani Food in the World

Pakistani food is gaining incredible global recognition for its bold flavors, diverse regional variations, and heartwarming comfort food. Here’s a glimpse into the journey of Pakistani food in the world.

According to TasteAtlas, Pakistani cuisine ranks 57th out of 100 for 2023-2024 on the list of 100 best cuisines globally. This shows how Pakistani food is rising in popularity and gaining global recognition.

Couple that with the Pakistani restaurant boom happening in major cities around the world and some popular food blogs and posts highlighting the flavorful taste of Pakistani dishes, and it’s easy to see why it’s getting more and more popular.

How Healthy Pakistani Food Is

How Healthy Pakistani Food Is

There are plenty of aspects that add a healthy twist to Pakistani dishes. Firstly, they use plenty of vegetables, legumes, lentils, and lean types of meat. All those can be nutritious and provide essential nutrients if you consume them with a balanced diet.

Secondly, Pakistani recipes are jam-packed with spices that have incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Finally, plenty of Pakistani dishes use a style of cooking that relies on steaming, grilling, and baking, which are healthier alternatives to deep-frying.

Yet, Pakistani cuisine is often associated with rich and heavy dishes, but plenty of healthy options are available.

Some healthy choices include daal, sabzi, tandoori chicken, and grilled fish. These dishes are all packed with flavor and are an excellent way to enjoy Pakistani cuisine without compromising health.

If you eat Pakistani food with proportions in mind while focusing on legumes, vegetables, and lean proteins, you can limit calorie intake while enjoying the beautiful kaleidoscope of tastes.

Famous and Popular Pakistani Dishes You Have to Try

Famous and Popular Pakistani Dishes You Have to Try

Now, we’ll look at some of the most interesting Pakistani dishes that are a must-try if you’re a culinary adventurer.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a Punjabi delicacy, and it carries the province’s legacy of spicy and hearty cuisines.

It’s a creamy dish, cooking chicken in a buttery tomato-based gravy. Usually, you marinate the chicken in a mixture of yogurt, spices, and lemon juice to keep it moist and infuse flavors.

Then, you can grill the chicken, roast it, or pan-fry it until it becomes golden and even slightly charred.

You can make the gravy, the heart of the dish, by simmering onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes until they meld into a thick and smooth sauce. After that, add a generous amount of butter, cream, and aromatic spices like turmeric, garam masala, and fenugreek to the gravy.

After cooking the chicken and gravy separately, combine them to allow the flavors to mix and develop. Then, garnish it with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves to add some freshness.

Typically, you would serve butter chicken with naan, rice, or roti to turn the dish into a full, hearty meal.

Sarson Ka Saag

Sarson Ka Saag

Sarson ka saag is a vegetarian dish that’s also a beloved Punjabi delicacy. It’s made with mustard greens (sarson), spinach, and sometimes fenugreek leaves.

After chopping those, you should simmer them with a blend of spices, including green chilies, garlic, ginger, and a little bit of turmeric, to add heat and aroma.

Sarson ka saag is one of those dishes that you must cook slowly to bring out the distinct taste of every ingredient, and once the greens turn tender and break down, you’ll notice the texture has become thick and creamy.

If you want your dish to have a velvety mouthfeel, add some ghee (clarified butter), and some cornmeal or maize flour to give the dish a nutty flavor and further enhance the thickness of the saag.

Typically, sarson ka saag is served with makki di roti—a cornmeal bread—rice or flatbread.

Chana Masala

Chana Masala

A quick and delicious meal is chana masala, a spicy and tangy chickpea dish you can eat with rice or naan bread.

Start with soaking dried chickpeas overnight and cooking them until they become soft, but make sure to retain some bite.

Then, you simmer the cooked chickpeas in a thick and flavorful gravy that includes a myriad of spices, including turmeric, coriander, cumin, and, of course, garam masala.

To make the gravy, you should sauté onions, ginger, and garlic until they become aromatic and turn a golden color. Then, add tomatoes along with tamarind or dried mango powder for a balanced tanginess.

Finally, you add the spice blend to coat the chickpeas with a robust and aromatic sauce. You can serve chana masala with traditional breads like naan or roti.

If you want to add a final touch, garnish the plate with fresh coriander leaves, squeeze some lemon juice, or add some yogurt for extra creaminess and freshness.

Fish Curry

Fish Curry

If you’re a fish lover, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this spicy fish dish made with curry and other spices.
Fish curry is one of the gems of Pakistan’s coastal regions, and every seafood lover enjoys it as a treat. Usually, the fish is firm and fleshy, such as pomfret, sea bass, or tilapia.

You simmer the fish in a tangy gravy and make the curry by sautéing onions, garlic, and ginger along with a bunch of spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder.

Of course, to keep the hallmark tangy flavor of Pakistani dishes, you can add tamarind pulp or tomatoes to give the dish some acidity. And for an extra dash of creaminess, you can add some coconut milk or yogurt to enhance the texture of the curry.

As the case is with plenty of Pakistani dishes, fish curry is served with rice or naan bread, and you can garnish it with fresh coriander leaves.

Karahi

Karahi

Karahi, or kadai, is a beloved and iconic Pakistani beefy stew named after the wok-like vessel used to cook it.

Karahi is made with beef or chicken, where you cook them in the karahi with a blend of spices, including cumin, cardamom, black pepper, and coriander.

You begin by quickly stir-frying the meat with high heat, to char the meat and give it a smoky flavor. In parallel, you make the gravy by adding onions, tomatoes, ginger, and garlic. And then you mix the two to get the perfect blend of both.

You can garnish karahi with fresh coriander leaves and serve it with naan bread or roti.

Most tales say that the origins of karahi are tied to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northern Pakistan, and “karahi” is a derivation of “karaha,” which is a heavy, round-bottomed cooking pot made of cast iron or wrought iron.

It’s an excellent tool for cooking stews over open fires, which suited the lifestyle of the local Pashtun people, who lived in rugged terrain and harsh climates.

Korma

Korma

Pakistani korma is a popular and flavorful dish that’s a staple in Pakistani cuisine. It’s a rich and creamy curry made with meat or vegetables cooked in a fragrant mix of spices, yogurt, and cream.

You start with a base of onions, ginger, and garlic, which you saute until they reach a golden color. Then, you add cumin, coriander, cardamom, and cloves to add flavor and bring the aroma out.

Then, the meat or vegetables are added to the spice mix and cooked until they become tender, and finally coated with the fragrant spice blend.

To perfect korma, you should use yogurt to add a tangy flavor and to help tenderize the meat. Korma also incorporates cream or ground nuts such as cashews or almonds, which gives the dish a luxurious creamy texture.

Typically, korma is served with rice, naan bread, or roti bread and garnished with fresh coriander leaves, silvered almonds, or a drizzle of cream.

Soups and Salads

Soups and Salads

Pakistani dishes are full of flavors and aromas, and their soups and salads aren’t any different. In this section, we’ll go over a few of the must-try Pakistani soups and salads to tantalize your taste buds.

Shorba

Shorba

“Shorba” is Arabic for soup. This nourishing chicken broth is a winter staple, simmered with onions, ginger, garlic, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper.

It’s a clear broth, dotted with tender chicken pieces, and a comforting way to keep yourself warm on chilly days.

Aloo Gosht Shorba

Aloo Gosht Shorba

The Aloo ghost shorba is a flavorful meat and potato soup and another winter favorite. It features chunks of mutton or beef simmered with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and a warm spice blend.

Kachumber Salad

Kachumber Salad

This refreshing salad combines vegetables and herbs in a beautiful symphony of taste and enjoyment.
Kachumber salad includes cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. They’re all finely chopped and mixed with fresh lime juice, salt, and black pepper.

The tangy lime juice and crunchy vegetables perfectly balance any spicy or rich Pakistani dish.

Dahi Bhalla

Dahi Bhalla

Dhai bhalla is a yogurt-based salad that is a fusion of delicious creaminess and tanginess. Bhalla are fried lentil dumplings that are soaked in yogurt, and topped with chickpeas, potatoes, chutneys, and a generous sprinkle of spices.

Every bite from that salad bursts with contrasting textures and flavors, making it a truly unique and flavorful salad.

Aam ka Achaar

Aam ka Achaar

This tangy mango pickle is a condiment and a salad, both in one. Raw mangoes are pickled with spices like chili powder, turmeric, and fenugreek.

You combine them all to create a sharp flavor and use them to add acidity and texture to every meal, and it tastes especially great with rice and curry or tossed into a salad for a tangy kick.

Starters, Sandwiches, and Sides

Starters, Sandwiches, and Sides

If you’re looking for quick and easy Pakistani foods, you can check out the following options: sides, starters, and sandwiches.

Pakoras

Pakoras

Pakoras are savory potato fritters that come in plenty of forms and are a fine representation of the regional variations of Pakistani cuisine.

From crispy chickpea pakoras drizzled with yogurt to crunchy onion pakoras bursting with flavor, you’ll find a kind of pakora that suits your taste buds.

Typically, you can have those appetizers or sides with chutneys and raita to combine delicious textures and flavors.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani

Dal makhani is a creamy, black lentil dish that any vegetarian would love. You take whole black lentils and slow-cook them with butter, tomatoes, onions, and spices, including cumin, coriander, and garam masala.

This combination results in a smooth and flavorful dal that melts in the mouth and provides you with a high amount of protein on the side of any main course.

Palak Paneer

Palak Paneer

Palak paneer is a vibrant spinach and cheese dish that’s also suitable for vegetarians. You cook fresh spinach leaves with creamy paneer (Indian cottage cheese), tomatoes, onions, and spices, like turmeric, cumin, and garam masala.

Palak paneer is a bright green dish with a delightful blend of textures and flavors, perfect for adding color and contrast to your meal.

Bread, Pastries, and Dessert

Bread, Pastries, and Dessert

Now that we’ve gone over the dishes, let’s take a look at baking. Pakistan has a variety of breads, pastries, and desserts—the sweetest indulgence in any cuisine or culture.

Naan

Naan

We’ve mentioned naan a lot throughout the article, and it’s a ubiquitous side that you can offer with plenty of main dishes and even some street foods, especially spicy ones.

Naan is one of the most popular types of bread in Pakistan, and it’s a leavened bread that’s cooked in a tandoor or a clay oven.

Roti

Roti

Roti, on the other hand, is an unleavened bread that’s made from whole wheat flour. It’s a common bread that’s usually served with lentils or other vegetarian dishes.

Jalebi

Jalebi

Jalebi is a bright orange coil of deep-fried batter dipped in syrup. You can maximize the sweetness by adding more of the fragrant sugar syrup.

Jalebi is crispy on the outside and chewy and soft on the inside, making for fun street food and satisfying your sweet tooth.

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun

Gulab jamun is a classic Pakistani dessert that many love. They’re small balls made from milk powder, flour, and butter, and then they’re deep-fried until they become golden brown.

Once you fry them, you soak them in sugar syrup flavored with cardamom and rosewater.

Secret Recipe Tips

Secret Recipe Tips

If you want to perfect your Pakistani dishes, there are some tips and tricks to bring out the best taste of the ingredients and spices you use.

In this section, we’ll go over those tips to ensure the best outcome when you’re preparing your Pakistani food.

Use Freshly Ground Spices

Use Freshly Ground Spices

Whenever it’s possible, try to grind your spices fresh. While spices tend to retain their flavors and aromas better than pre-ground ones.

So, investing in a good-quality spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind cardamom, coriander, and cumin can make a world’s difference to how your dishes taste.

Marinating With Yogurt

Marinating With Yogurt

Yogurt is a common ingredient in many Pakistani dishes. When marinating meat, especially chicken or mutton, using yogurt as a base can help tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavors.

The neutral acidity in yogurt helps to break down proteins, resulting in tender and juicy meat.

Slow Cook

Slow Cook

Traditional Pakistani dishes usually go through a process of slow cooking, and that’s what gives them such a strong taste, as the ingredients have taken their sweet time to meld together and release their full flavor.

You should allow the flavors to develop over low heat for longer, especially when making stews or curries.

Tempering (Tarka Cooking)

Tempering (Tarka Cooking)

Tempering, or Tarka, is a cooking technique where whole spices, such as cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and dried red chilies, are fried in oil or ghee.

This tempering is then added to the dish at the end of cooking, just before serving. This adds a burst of flavor and a fragrant aroma to the plate, enhancing its palatability.

Fresh Herbs and Citrus

Fresh Herbs and Citrus – Green Chilies are Used to Elevate Your Dishes

You should incorporate fresh herbs like cilantro (coriander), mint, and green chilies to elevate the taste of your dish.

Chop the herbs and add them to curries and rice dishes, or use them as garnishes for a vibrant flavor and a fresh look.

Many Pakistanis also squeeze a bit of lemon or lime juice, which adds a tangy kick and enhances flavor.

Steam Rice

Steam Rice

Rice is one of the staples of Pakistani cuisine, and steaming it properly is essential for fluffy and separate grains.

Soak the rice for 30 minutes before cooking to ensure that it cooks evenly and ends up fluffy. The trick is to leverage the absorption method, where you add just enough water for the rice to steam but not too much that it becomes smushy.

What you want to do is add water just enough to cover the top of the rice in the pot, which is typically a 1 or 1.5 ratio of water to rice.

Beverages

Beverages

Now that we know what the Pakistanis eat and have for dessert, let’s look at what they drink alongside those foods.

Lassi

Lassi

Lassi is a traditional Pakistani drink that’s been a popular choice for centuries. It’s a creamy, yogurt-based beverage that you typically serve cold, which is mainly why it’s a popular summer drink.

There are plenty of lassi variations, and the most popular ones include mango lassi, sweet lassi, and salted lassi.

Mango lassi is ideal if you want a refreshment, while sweet lassi serves as a sweet and creamy delight, and salted lassi is the ideal complement to a spicy meal.

Chai

Chai

You’ve probably heard the term “chai” at a given time, whether while looking through a menu and spotting chai lattes or seeing chai karak packs on the shelf at the supermarket.

Chai is a staple beverage in Pakistan, and it’s a beverage that people of all ages love and enjoy. Essentially, “chai” is the Arabic word for tea, and that’s exactly what it is.

In Pakistan, chai is a blend of black tea and spices, including ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom.Chai is served hot, and you can add sugar and milk to it according to your preference. It’s a good drink choice if you’re looking for a comforting drink on a cool day.

The best part about chai is that there are plenty of variations. So, whether you like a strong and spicy tea or a mild and sweet one, you’ll find a variation that indulges your taste buds.

Ingredients

Ingredients

From the dishes you’ve read throughout the article, you’ve probably formed an idea regarding the most important ingredients that Pakistani dishes include.

In this section, we’ll go over those ingredients in detail to get to know the culture better.

Raita

Raita

Raita is a yogurt-based condiment that’s served as a cooling accompaniment to spicy dishes. It’s made by mixing yogurt with chopped onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Not only that, but it also includes spices such as cumin, coriander, and mint.

Raita isn’t only delicious, but it also has many health benefits since yogurt is rich in protein, calcium, and probiotics.

Chutneys

Chutneys

Chutneys are sweet, sour, and spicy condiments that are made from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices.

They’re an important part of Pakistani cuisine and are served with everything from snacks and appetizers to main dishes.

Some popular chutneys include mango, tamarind, and—the most popular—mint chutney. Chutneys are easy to make at home, and you can store them in the fridge for up to a week.

Lentils

Lentils

Various lentils, like chana dal (chickpeas), masoor dal (red lentils), and moong dal (green lentils) are simmered into hearty dals or incorporated into other dishes in Pakistani cuisine.

Ghee

Ghee

Ghee is a popular ingredient in Pakistani cuisine. It’s a clarified butter that adds a rich flavor to dishes and enhances the flavor.

It’s such an excellent addition when cooking meat as it tenderizes it and makes it melt in the mouth, elevating the experience.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are crucial building blocks of Pakistani cuisine. In this section, we’ll go over the most popular choices that give Pakistani dishes their distinct taste and aroma.

Cumin (Zeera)

Cumin (Zeera)

Cumin seeds are widely used in Pakistani cuisine and add a warm, earthy flavor to dishes. They’re often roasted and ground before use to enhance their aroma.

Coriander (Dhania)

Coriander (Dhania)

Both coriander seeds and fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) are extensively used in Pakistani cooking.
Coriander seeds have a slightly citrusy and nutty flavor, while fresh coriander leaves add a fresh and greeny note to dishes.

Turmeric (Haldi)

Turmeric (Haldi)

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that’s a pillar in Pakistani cuisine. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is often used in curries and rice dishes.

Cardamom

Cardamom

Both green and black cardamom variants are loved and used in Pakistan. Green cardamom offers a sweet and minty note, while black adds depth and smokiness.

Red Chili Powder (Laal Mirch)

Red Chili Powder (Laal Mirch)

Red chili powder is made from dried and ground red chili peppers. It adds heat and a rich red color to Pakistani dishes

The level of spiciness the powder adds to the dish depends on the type of chili powder used.

Ginger (Adrak)

Ginger (Adrak)

Ginger is widely used in Pakistani cooking and adds a pungent and slightly sweet flavor. It’s used both in fresh and dried forms and is typically used for curries, marinades, and teas.

Garlic (Lehsan)

Garlic (Lehsan)

Garlic is a key ingredient while making a Pakistani dish as it provides a strong and distinctive flavor. It’s used in various forms, including fresh, minced, and dried.

It’s mostly used for pickles, chutneys, marinades, and curries.

Garam Masala

Garam Masala

Garam masala is an extremely popular spice in the Pakistani, Indian, and Bangladeshi dishes. It’s a combination of nutmeg, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. It can include more or exclude some of the spices on the list, depending on the region.

In all cases, garam masala is known to add warmth and complexity to dishes and is often used toward the end of the cooking process.

Fenugreek (Methi)

Fenugreek (Methi)

Fenugreek leaves and seeds are used in Pakistani dishes to add a slightly bitter taste to vegetable dishes and curries.

It’s mainly used because it adds to the aroma of a dish and brings out the taste of other spices if used in a blend. Fenugreek is also commonly used when making pickles.

Pakistani Food Culture

Pakistani Food Culture

Now that you know pretty much every Pakistani dish out there, you must be curious about the foundations of the Pakistani food culture.

Every country has its unique eating habits, etiquette around food, and a structure around which they create their entire meals.

In this section, we’ll explore more about those aspects, so not only are you aware of the types of food, ingredients, and drinks in Pakistan, but also the details around their consumption and enjoyment.

Eating Habits

Eating Habits

Pakistanis love rice and wheat-based foods, especially basmati rice and bread varieties like naan, roti, and paratha.

Pakistani dishes are often jam-packed with proteins, such as chicken, beef, lamb, and fish, and the meat is typically cooked in curries or grilled as kebabs.

A lot of Pakistani dishes also include vegetables, especially tomatoes, onions, potatoes, garlic, spinach, and eggplant.

Of course, it’s not a Pakistani meal without plenty of spices, such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Meal Structure

Meal Structure

Pakistani cuisine, like many, consists of three meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is considered an important meal and often includes items such as paratha (flatbread), omelets, yogurt, chai, and milk.

On the other hand, lunch is the main meal of the day, and it often includes rice or bread, meat, vegetable curries, lentils, and salad.

Finally, dinner is usually similar to lunch but may have a wider variety of dishes.

While it’s not a staple, the tea culture is quite strong in Pakistan, and you’ll often find it served multiple times per day with biscuits or sweets.

Etiquette

Etiquette

Food is an integral part of Pakistani culture, and it reflects the country’s diverse and rich heritage.
Typically, friends and family share food and view it as a way to bring people together.

Pakistanis place great emphasis on hospitality, and it’s considered polite to offer food to guests and make sure that they’re well-fed and satisfied.

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