The Pakistani cuisine is known for its flavorful and aromatic dishes, many people from around the globe travel to Pakistan exclusively to get a taste of it. Owing to its versatile geography, the food in Pakistan is made up of a diverse range of delicious herbs, spices, meats, rice, and pieces of bread. Today we’ll help you get acquainted with one of the most iconic Pakistani dishes including fast food, baked items, desserts, and main course items, along with their basic ingredients and regional names.
Best Foods of Pakistan which represent Pakistani Food Culture
A famous rice dish and great Muslim food, Biryani is a magnificent Pakistani cuisine cooked in saffron, onions, and spices, and has one of the best aromas.
In Pakistan, every region has its own kind of Biryani. There is Hyderabadi Biryani, Sindhi Biryani, chicken biryani, beef biryani, and more.
Karachi has some of the best biryani places in Pakistan. Indus Foods, Student Biryani, and Biryani Center offer world’s best biryanis.
- KARAHI GOSHT
Karahi Gosht is one of the most popular foods in Pakistan and is considered to be best cooked in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
In Peshawar’s surrounding areas, anything cooked in meat, be it goat meat or lamb, is ruled by the unique flavor this region has to offer. While Chicken karahi is a specialty of Lahore food street.
The dish is one of the hallmarks of Pakistani cuisine and is made by stir-frying pieces of chicken with green chili, tomatoes, garlic and ginger in a karahi.
The exorbitant Nihari is equally noshed and loved in lunch and breakfast.
The thick curry, laden with juicy chunks of beef (it can also be made with chicken or a meat substitute), cooked to perfection in the old walled city of Lahore. It’s typically served with naan bread and sprinkled with cut chillis, coriander, ginger pieces, lemon juice, and onions.
Known as the dish of Nawabs of India (as it was served to them on breakfast before partition), this slowly cooked delicacy is a part of Pakistan’s food culture and is a must try for someone who hasn’t tried it already.
Another tasty dish on the list is made up of lentils, meat, and barley.
A true delight for all food lovers, the thick brown paste, with its sinewy texture is best served in a non-native setting throughout the cities.
The generous amount of Haleem is served with fried onions, coriander, and lemon at very reasonable prices to give you a true taste of Pakistani food culture.
Personally, I think Korma is one of the best thing ever cooked in a curry.
It usually consists of mutton or beef cooked with yogurt, infused with a taste of whole garam masala, green cardamom, and caramelized onions to produce a thick sauce or glaze.
The royal Pakistani dish, Korma is a gorgeously creamy curry and is considered to be everyone’s favorite in Pakistan.
- CHANA CHAAT
Loved across the country, Chana Chaat makes a great afternoon snack.
Chana Chaat is a simple salad loaded with fried potatoes, chickpeas, samosa, bara and served with spicy chutney tangy, or yogurt topped with onions, chopped tomatoes, Chat masala and mint.
It is best enjoyed during evening tea time and in the lingering hours before dinner.
- CHAPLI KABAB
Perfect as a starter or as main, the Pashtun styled chapli kabab makes for a great Muslim food and is equally loved across Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Originating from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, it is also known as Peshawari kabab, made from minced mutton or beef with added spices, and shaped into a round form of a patty. It is deep fried in a large pan, and is served & eaten with rice, naan bread, or in sandwiches and buns such as a bun kebab.
It’s a popular street food throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially the Peshawar city which offers the tastiest chapli kababs in the country.
A simple and underrated dessert, Zarda is made by boiling rice with milk, (orange) food coloring & sugar, and flavored with raisins, cardamoms, pistachios, saffron or almonds.
The royal aroma and subtle sweetness of basmati rice are enjoyed over different celebratory occasions in Pakistan. Typically served after a meal, the yellowish colored flavored dessert is a must try for anyone who hasn’t tried it yet.
- RAS MALAI
A very unique kind-of dessert, Ras malai is basically powdered milk balls in sweetened milk.
Part of Pakistani food culture, it consists of cream, yellow, or white colored flattened balls of chhena soaked in clotted cream flavored with cardamom. The balls are cooked in milk and sugar syrup with pistachios, kheer, and saffron as stuffing.
Often accompanied by chutney, the triangle-shaped pastries are a popular appetizer, entree, or snack in the local cuisines of the Arabian Peninsula, Indian subcontinent, Southwest Asia, Southeast Asia, the Horn of Africa, the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Southern Africa.
Also famous in Pakistan, these flavorful bites are often stuffed with vegetables (such as peas, mashed potatoes, carrot, and onions) and may also be stuffed with meat (such as chicken, lamb, and beef mince). Often made from sturdy pastry, samosas are also fried so they have a crunchy texture.
A good Muslim food. It makes for a great Ramadan snack especially for vegetarians, it is one of the most popular street snacks in Pakistan and is equally loved across the country.
Also read : Best south Indian Foods
- GAJAR KA HALWA
A classic wedding dessert, gajar ka halwa is a must-have, especially during the winter season.
The carrot-based sweet dessert is made by placing minced carrots in a pot containing milk, sugar, and water and then cooking it by stirring regularly. It is often served with a garnish of pistachios and almonds, which are first sautéed in ghee
A warm bowl of this carrot-based halwa is a roller coaster of warmness and sweetness. So if it happens to be a winter season and you are in Pakistan, then don’t forget to get your hands-on Pakistani dish.
- HALWA PURI
Popular in Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani cuisine, Halwa Puri is a breakfast dish consisting of puri bread, chana masala, and halwa. The mixture of sour and sweet flavors results in a memorable dining experience.
The deep fried, thin bread (poori) is a type of dough rolled out in a circular form and sprinkled with salt, it is served with halva (a combination of egg whites, sugar syrup, and sesame seed) and curries mixed of chickpeas (locally known as ‘choley’) & potato.
It’s so popular that every city has their own “best” versions of it, however, Lahore’s savory and sweet breakfast serving of this amazing Pakistani dish is greatly loved all over the country. If you’re craving for Halwa Puri, then head straight to Lahore’s streets for a perfect breakfast.
- BUN KEBAB
A highly loved street food, Bun kebabs are a part of Pakistani food culture and are usually found in fast food restaurants and roadside stalls all across Pakistan.
Bun kebab consists of a spicy patty (which is shallow-fried) in a hot dog or hamburger bun served with chutneys and ketchup. The patty can be made of potatoes, chicken, mutton or beef, mixed with powdered cumin seeds, an egg batter, and ground lentils into a mixture which is then fried in oil or ghee.
Be it Lahore, Rawalpindi or Karachi, these roadside burgers are the tastiest meal one can have. So do yourself a favor by munching on to this great Pakistani dish.
- KULFI FALOODA
A rich summer dessert, the creamy milky falooda is kind of like ice cream rich in sweetness, thickness and consumed as a cold beverage in Pakistan.
The kulfi falooda contains a cone of kulfi, rose water, almonds, kewra, jelly, and tukh malanga. This combination of different ingredients makes it a great ‘coolant’ to eat/drink in summers.
- GULAB JAMUN
Available in every city of Pakistan, these juicy, soft and caramel colored delicacies drenched in sugar syrup and topped with chopped almonds are a must in every desi wedding.
It is made mainly from Khoya (which is milk reduced to the consistency of a soft dough), however modern recipes call for powdered/dried milk instead of Khoya. To enhance flavor, it is often garnished with dried nuts such as almonds.
There are 250 calories in a traditional piece of gulab jamun, so try not to overload. But that may be hard, especially for the sweet tooth foodies because this great Pakistani dish tastes so good.
Originating from the Balochistan province, this dish consists of a large piece of chicken or lamb, marinated only in salt (sometimes covered with green papaya paste), stuffed with rice, then roasted over coals. One of the primary specialties of the traditional Pakistani cuisine, it is available in all the regions of Pakistan.
- FILLING KOFTA
Kofta is basically lamb meatballs in a sauce. In Pakistan, kofta is made from ground beef with spices, salt, and onion. Nargisi kofta served with half-cut boiled eggs encased in spicy kofta are very popular. It may sound like a strange combination but it works.
- MANGO LASSI
One of Pakistan’s favorite drinks, Lassi is most commonly made with mango (but can also come in a salty version), a thick shake, and it’s delightfully sweet & creamy and is often made during Ramadan.
There is truly a long catalog of extremely appetizing Pakistani cuisine, but these eighteen should get anyone curious about this attractive cuisine started on the path to gastronomy heaven.