4 Delicious Pakistani Dishes That Everyone Must Try

Hira Shaikh
January 4, 2023
 min read

Blazing with flavorful combinations, Pakistani cuisine takes you on a culinary experience that enlivens your tastebuds. Pakistani cuisine is a melting pot of cuisines from around the globe. Pakistani food has the most extraordinary mix of taste and flavor. It truly stands out from all other cuisines around the world. 

What is Pakistani Cuisine?

Pakistani cuisine is an amalgamation of regional culinary traditions from the Mughlai, Aryans, Scythians, Persians, and Turks. Pakistani cuisine adopted culinary practices of other cuisines while adding vital elements of its own. Pakistani cuisine is diverse as the country’s culture and population and in every corner of the country, you will discover a unique dish to try. 

Each province of Pakistan has something tasteful and delightful to offer. The level of spicy varies depending on the part of the county. The provinces of Sindh and Punjab offer a variety of tangy and spicy dishes. On the other hand, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa offer milder-tasting dishes.

Though the cuisine may be mainly non-vegetarian, it offers delicious vegetarian dishes. Popular spices in Pakistan include garam masala, coriander powder, cumin, brown cardamom, green cardamom, clove, mace, and nutmeg. Some vegetables commonly found in Pakistan cuisine include bitter gourd, okra, eggplant, potatoes, mustard greens (sarson), cauliflower, and cabbage. Fruits that are locally grown in the country include mangoes, guava, Indian blackberry, pomegranate, oranges, lychee plums, apricot, and papaya. 

Unlike other South Asian cuisines, Pakistani cuisine is more bread-based. Bread is served with all types of curries. There is an extensive variety of bread. Some well-known types of bread include roti, paratha, taftan, shermal, kulcha, and tandoori naan. 

Pakistani cuisine is known for its succulent barbecue dishes. Different types of meats are marinated in different blends of spices and seasonal herbs and grilled on a tandoor (large clay oven). The result is fiery, smokey, and flavorful. Top delicious Pakistani BBQ dishes include chicken tikka, seekh kabab, and malai boti. 

Let’s dive in and look at some of the dishes that Pakistani cuisine has to offer:

1. Biryani

Biryani is every Pakistani’s favorite Friday food. Biryani is perhaps the most festive dish in Pakistani cuisine. No wedding celebration is complete without biryani.

First, meat curry is fully cooked with ginger garlic paste, yogurt, tomatoes, fried onions, dried plums, pre-made biryani masala, and spices such as chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, cardamom,  and cumin powder. 

Lastly, the meat curry is layered with boiled potatoes and pre-cooked rice topped with fried onions, mint, cilantro, saffron milk, and green chilies. Biryani is covered and steamed for about 10 to 15 minutes. Biryani is served with raita chutney (yogurt sauce made with yogurt, cumin, green peppers, mint, and cilantro).  Biryani is aromatic, flavorsome, and divine. Nothing hits the spots like a plate of good biryani. 

2. Chicken Karahi 

Originating from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, karahi is traditionally cooked on a big wok also known as Karahi in Urdu. Karahi is a tomato and ginger-based, thick masala curry. Karahi is a relatively easy and quick dish to prepare. 

In a heated oil pan, chicken is cooked with fresh ginger garlic paste until golden brown. Chopped tomatoes and simple spices such as coarsely crushed black pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, and paprika are added. The chicken is cooked on high heat for about 20 minutes or until the oil separates. A dollop of butter is added before garnishing. Karahi is garnished with julienne ginger, green chilis, and cilantro. 

Karahi is usually served with fresh tandoori naan or paratha.  Karahi is peppery, sapid, saporous, and spicy. 

3. Halwa Puri 

A weekend favorite, halwa puri is known as the breakfast of champions in every Pakistani household. 

This breakfast platter consists of aloo cholay, spicy and tangy potato and chickpea curry made with spices like red chili flakes, ajwain, mustard seed, nigella seed, cumin, fenugreek seed, and amchur powder (mango powder). Sweet dense pudding known as suji halwa is made with ghee, semolina, sugar, green cardamom, and nuts. Lastly, puri,  which is soft and fluffy fried bread made with flour, water, salt, and oil.

Halwa puri is a perfect combination of a savory and sweet meal. 

4. Lassi

Lassi is a creamy and frothy traditional Punjabi cold drink. There are many variations of lassi ranging from namkeen (salty) to meethi (sweet). Namkeen Lassi (salty lassi) is a blend of yogurt, salt, and cumin.  It is usually consumed after a heavy meal. 

Meethi Lassi (sweet lassi) is a blend of yogurt, milk, and sugar. Additionally, there is also flavored lassi in which fruits and herbs are added. Be sure to check out some of our rich and luscious lassi recipes: Punjabi Lassi, Strawberry Lassi, Mango Lassi, and Pumpkin Lassi.

Lassi is one of the most popular beverages in Pakistan. Lassi tastes heavenly on a hot summer day. 

During the last decade, Pakistani cuisine has become increasingly popular and has gained a massive following, therefore, putting  Pakistani food on the global map. Whether it is trying a new dish at your local Pakistani restaurant or recreating a Pakistani recipe in your kitchen, there are endless options of delicious dishes for everyone from all walks of life to experience. With its variety of flavorful dishes, Pakistani cuisine is guaranteed to please any palate.

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