Pakistani Culinary Culture | Pakistani Dishes and Cuisine

Updated: Jan 5



Where is Pakistan?


Located in South Asia, Pakistan has an area of ​​approximately 803,943 km2. It is normally divided into four main regions; Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and the Northwest Border Area. It has India to the east, Afghanistan, and Iran to the west, China to the northeast, and the Arabian Sea to the south.

A large part of Pakistan is mountainous. The mountains in the north are very high and snowy.



With an altitude of 7,700 meters, Mount Tiriş Mir is the highest point of the country.


The western regions are a continuation of the Iranian Plateau and filled with a series of plateaus. The area is surrounded by mountains. The most striking point in the physical structure of Pakistan is the Indus River.



Pakistan's climate is hot and dry. But in most places, the air temperature varies. The temperature in the mountains varies depending on the altitude. Hence, regions throughout Pakistan have climates that can vary between arctic or extremely hot climates. The air temperature, which reaches almost 46 ° C in June, goes down to 4 ° C in January-February.


Urdu and English are the official languages ​​of Pakistan.


However, only 10% of Pakistanis speak this language. 60% of the population speaks Punjabi. Other spoken languages ​​include Sindhi, Pushto, and Kashmiri.



Pakistani Cuisine


While the Indians were trying to escape from British rule, the Muslims united and established dominion in 1947. Dominion, which they named Pakistan, which means "clean country" in their language, became the Republic of Pakistan in 1956. Therefore, Muslims constitute the basis of Pakistani cuisine. Beef, chicken, fish, and vegetables are common in Pakistani cuisine.



The Mongol Empire began to rule in what is now Pakistan in 1526. The style of cooking, called Mughal, typically includes herbs and spices, ingredients such as almonds and raisins. Mughal cuisine still remains an important part of Pakistani cuisine.

Shahi tukra and Chicken tandoori, a dessert made with sliced ​​bread, milk, cream, sugar, and saffron, have been favorite dishes in Pakistani cuisine since the 21st century. Chicken tandoori is a chicken that is cooked at low temperatures in special large clay ovens.


Pakistan was part of India until 1947. Although Pakistani cuisine has obvious Indian roots (for example, their extensive use of spices), Iranian, Afghan, Persian, and Western influences are also visible in their cooking. It created its own unique Pakistani cuisine by buying different sauces and herbs from every culture.



Culinary Cultures by Regions of Pakistan


Pakistan is divided into four provinces, each with different cultures and regional characteristics. For example, machli (fish) and other seafood are delicacies in the coastal Sind province.

In Baluchistan (the largest state) in western Pakistan, cooks use the sajji method to barbecue whole lambs in a deep pit.


People living in Punjab (eastern Pakistan) are known for their bread and elaborate cooking techniques.


The Panthers, occupying the Northwest Frontier area, eats a lot of lambs. They eat lamb in a softer consistency compared to other regions.


Baked bread eaten with meat cubes called nan-kebab is the favorite Pathan dish.


Common foods commonly used in Pakistani cuisine in every region; milk, lentils, seasonal vegetables, flour, and wheat products. Chapatis is a flatbread made from wheat and is a staple food eaten at most meals. Vegetables such as alu (potato), gobhi (cabbage), bhindi (okra), channa (chickpea), and matar (peas) are eaten according to the season.



Pakistani Dishes and Cuisine


Indian Cuisine is like the heart of Pakistani Cuisine. Pakistan's other traditional dishes are similar to Indian Cuisine; Balti, Biryani, Mutton Karahi, Chicken Karachi, Tikka, Samosa, Pakora, and Dahi Phulkiyaan.

Other than Shahi Tukray, Carrot Halva and Cream Chaat stand out in desserts.


Dhal, one of the traditional dishes of Pakistan, is a type of stew made with lentils, one of the most commonly eaten vegetables.



In Pakistan, a wide variety of fruits appear in summer and autumn.


Mango, papaya, banana, watermelon, apricot, and apples are some of them. Many Pakistanis eat their fruit (especially watermelons) with a light salt to balance their sweetness.


Spices are widely used in Pakistani cuisine. Food is sweetened with sauces and seasonings. The most commonly used spices; It is chili powder, curry, ginger, garlic, coriander, red pepper, and cinnamon.


The most popular sauce of Pakistani Cuisine is Garam Masala, which is identified with South Asia. This spice, which is definitely included in almost every dish in Pakistan, usually includes cumin, coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.



In rural areas, meat is kept for a special occasion. Eating pork is prohibited for Muslims, who make up about 97% of the population of Pakistan. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, mutton and beef should not be sold or served in public places in Pakistan. Seafood and machli (fish) are commonly consumed in Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast. Yogurt is served with them to lighten the spicy dishes in Pakistani cuisine.


Yogurt can be eaten plain or consumed in the form of Lassi and Raita. Lassi is a breakfast drink made with yogurt, ice, and sugar.


It is a drunk salty in the form of ayran for lunch and dinner.


Raita is yogurt with cumin and vegetables. In addition, sweet potatoes and sita (boiled corn on the cob) can accompany the meals.


Pakistanis can enjoy desserts like kheer (rice pudding) or kulfi (pistachio ice cream). Some sweet shops may sell jalebi, dark orange crackers made with flour, yogurt, and sugar made from dried milk solids. Treating each other sweet to celebrate happy events is a popular Pakistani tradition.



Pakistani Cuisine on special occasions


Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and Baha'is make up the other 3% of Pakistan, which is 97 percent Muslim. In the Muslim community, the majority are Sunnis and 25% are Shia. The difference between these two Muslim groups lies not in belief but in authority dispute.


The two major religious holidays celebrated by Muslim Pakistanis are Eid-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr) and Eid al-Adha, celebrated at the end of Ramadan. In suhoor, seeds are usually eaten with cereal foods and bananas. In the iftar, water, fruit juice, lassi, and pastries with vegetables are eaten at the beginning. Then dinner is eaten. Dinner can include tandoori chicken or lamb.


After the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated. Families and friends all feast visit each other. The most beautiful dishes, desserts, and fruit plates decorate the tables. Beef, lamb, and fish (in coastal areas) dishes are provided with rice, chapatis, and desserts.


At the time of the sacrifice, a goat, sheep, camel, or other four-legged animal is sacrificed and the meat is distributed to the poor. Muslims, who can get two meals a day in Pakistan, is expected to sacrifice an animal.

Food meals in Pakistan


Usually Nihari (boiled beef) and mango are consumed for breakfast.



Nihari takes its name from the Urdu word nihar, which means "morning". Sometimes a meal made of meat cooked with peppers and other spices can be consumed at breakfast the next morning. Parataile, which is a bread they call nan or a flat fried flat donut, is evaluated for the meat meal left over the day before.


Lunch and dinner are very similar. Roti (bread), chawal (rice), sabzi (vegetables), and gosht (meat) are the main ingredients of a meal. Chapatis or bread accompanies every meal. At the beginning of the dishes made with rice, there is Kabuli rice made with Biryani and raisins. For the main course, choose curry meat, minced egg, and meatballs.


Street vendors sell a variety of drinks and snacks. The most popular drink is tea. It is usually boiled with milk, nutmeg, and sugar. Lassi (buttermilk) and sugarcane juice are very popular during the summer months.


Another refreshing summer drink is lemonade, which they call nimbu paani. It is made from ice chips, salt, sugar, soda and lemon juice.

The most popular snack of Pakistani cuisine is Samosa.



Samosa; It is made by deep-frying dough stuffed with potatoes, chickpeas, or other vegetables. Other snacks are tikka (spicy barbecued meat) and Pakoralar (fried vegetables).


Politics, Economy, and Nutrition in Pakistan


The number of child labor in Pakistan is quite high. Children work in both farms and low-cost carpet weaving centers.


In the mid-1990s, 500,000-1 million Pakistani children ages 4-14 worked full-time as carpet weavers. UNICEF believes that almost 90% of the workforce of carpet manufacturers are children.



Adequate regulations have not yet been made in child labor laws. In 1999, the United Nations opened 300 schools in eastern Pakistan to promote education for school children.


Due to overpopulation, only 56% of Pakistanis have access to clean and safe drinking water. Approximately 19% of the population of Pakistan is undernourished. This means they are not getting enough nutrients from their meals. The Pakistani government has established several programs to improve these conditions, including the Child Survival / Primary Care Program to reduce deaths from malnutrition and disease.

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