20 Most Popular Pakistani Foods You Should Try

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Pakistan has a rich and diverse culinary heritage that is reflective of its history, geography, and cultural traditions. Pakistani food is a fusion of various regional cuisines that have been influenced by Central and South Asian cooking styles. Pakistani food is known for its spicy and aromatic flavors, vibrant colors, and the use of a variety of herbs and spices.

One of the most popular dishes in Pakistani cuisine is biryani, a flavorful rice dish made with meat, vegetables, and aromatic spices. Another popular dish is kebab, which is made with minced meat, onions, and spices, and then grilled or fried to perfection. Pakistani curries, such as chicken karahi and lamb vindaloo, are also renowned for their bold and complex flavors.

Pakistani cuisine is also famous for its naan bread, which is typically served with curries, kebabs, and other meat dishes. This soft, fluffy bread is cooked in a tandoor oven and has a slightly smoky flavor. In addition, Pakistani food also features a range of vegetarian dishes, such as chana masala, a spicy chickpea curry, and aloo gobi, a potato and cauliflower dish.

One of the most unique aspects of Pakistani cuisine is the use of a variety of herbs and spices. The most commonly used spices in Pakistani food include cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala, which give the dishes their distinctive flavors and aromas.

Overall, Pakistani food is a delicious and diverse cuisine that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Whether you’re a fan of spicy curries, meat dishes, or vegetarian food, Pakistani cuisine has something for everyone. Here are the 20 best foods in Pakistan of all time.

1. Biryani

Biryani is one of the most famous and beloved dishes in Pakistani cuisine. This flavorful rice dish is made with a combination of aromatic spices, meat, and vegetables, and it is typically served with raita, a yogurt-based condiment. Biryani has a rich history and is believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, where it was served to royalty and nobility.

The traditional way of cooking biryani involves slow-cooking the rice and meat in a pot with layers of spices, such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cardamom. The meat can be chicken, lamb, beef, or even fish, and it is cooked with onions, garlic, and ginger to infuse it with flavor. The rice is then added, and the mixture is cooked slowly over low heat to allow the spices and meat to meld together.

In addition to meat, biryani can also be made with vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and peas. Vegetarian biryani is a popular option for those who do not eat meat, and it is just as flavorful and satisfying as the meat-based version.

The result of this slow-cooking process is a dish that is bursting with flavor, with each grain of rice infused with the aromatic spices and tender meat or vegetables. Biryani is often garnished with fried onions, fresh herbs, and lemon wedges, which add an extra layer of flavor and texture to the dish.

Overall, Pakistani biryani is a delicious and satisfying dish that is beloved by people around the world. Its rich history and complex flavors make it a staple of Pakistani cuisine and a must-try for anyone interested in experiencing the diverse flavors of South Asian food.

2. Haleem

Haleem is a rich, hearty stew that is a staple of Pakistani cuisine. This slow-cooked dish is made with a variety of lentils, grains, and meat, and it is flavored with a blend of aromatic spices, such as cumin, coriander, and garam masala. Haleem is often served during Ramadan, as it is a filling and nourishing dish that is ideal for breaking the fast.

The process of making haleem is a labor of love, as it requires several hours of slow cooking to achieve the perfect consistency and flavor. First, the lentils and grains are soaked overnight to soften them, then they are cooked with meat and spices for several hours until they are tender and have absorbed the flavors of the spices.

The mixture is then blended together to create a thick and creamy stew, which is then topped with fried onions, fresh herbs, and lemon juice to enhance its flavors. The result is a dish that is rich and hearty, with a complex flavor profile that is both comforting and satisfying.

Haleem is typically made with beef or mutton, but it can also be made with chicken or vegetables for those who do not eat meat. It is often served with naan bread or rice and is best enjoyed with a side of raita, which helps to balance out the rich and spicy flavors of the dish.

In summary, Pakistani haleem is a delicious and hearty dish that is beloved by people all over the world. Its complex flavors and nourishing ingredients make it a popular choice during Ramadan, but it is also enjoyed throughout the year as a comforting and satisfying meal.

3. Nihari

Nihari is a traditional Pakistani dish that is famous for its rich, spicy flavor and tender meat. It is often eaten for breakfast or brunch and is a popular dish during special occasions such as Eid or weddings. Nihari is typically made with beef shank or lamb shank, which is slow-cooked for several hours with a variety of aromatic spices and seasonings.

The dish gets its distinctive flavor from a blend of spices such as cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, and cloves, as well as ginger, garlic, and chili peppers. The meat is cooked with these spices until it is tender and falls off the bone, creating a deliciously rich and flavorful broth. Nihari is often served with naan bread, which is used to sop up the savory sauce and tender meat, and is garnished with fresh ginger, green chilies, and cilantro for added flavor and texture.

In summary, Pakistani Nihari is a hearty and delicious dish that is beloved by people all over the world. Its complex flavors and tender meat make it a popular choice for special occasions or as a satisfying breakfast or brunch option. If you’re looking to experience the rich and spicy flavors of Pakistani cuisine, Nihari is a must-try dish that is sure to delight your taste buds.

4. Saag

Saag is a traditional Pakistani dish made from a combination of green leafy vegetables and a variety of aromatic spices. This dish is often made with spinach or mustard greens, which are slow-cooked with a blend of ginger, garlic, and other spices to create a rich and flavorful base. The vegetables are then pureed and mixed with either paneer, chicken or lamb to create a hearty and satisfying dish.

Saag is a nutritious and filling dish that is often served with naan bread or rice, and it is a staple of Pakistani cuisine. The dish is typically vegetarian, making it a great choice for those looking for a meatless meal option, but it can also be made with chicken or lamb for those who prefer a meatier version. The rich and spicy flavors of saag make it a favorite of both locals and visitors to Pakistan, and it is often enjoyed during special occasions or as a comforting meal during the cooler months.

In conclusion, Pakistani saag is a delicious and healthy dish that is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the flavors of Pakistani cuisine. Its blend of green leafy vegetables and aromatic spices create a rich and complex flavor profile that is both satisfying and nutritious, and it is a perfect option for those seeking a meatless meal.

5. Chapli kebab

Chapli Kebab is a popular Pakistani dish that originated in Peshawar. It is a meat patty that is made with ground beef or lamb mixed with a variety of spices and seasonings, such as coriander, cumin, and chili powder, as well as onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs like cilantro and mint. The mixture is then shaped into thin patties and fried until they are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

The unique aspect of Chapli Kebab is its shape, which is flat and round, resembling a traditional Pakistani sandal known as a “chapli”. This dish is often served with naan bread and is typically enjoyed as an appetizer or snack. It is a flavorful and spicy dish that is popular across Pakistan and is often served at weddings, family gatherings, and other special occasions. If you are a fan of meat dishes, Chapli Kebab is a must-try dish that is sure to tantalize your taste buds with its unique blend of flavors and spices.

6. Sajji

Sajji is a popular Pakistani dish that originated in the province of Balochistan. It is made with a whole roasted lamb or chicken that is marinated in a special blend of spices and seasonings, such as salt, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. The meat is then cooked on a spit over an open flame until it is tender and juicy.

The unique aspect of Sajji is its method of preparation, which involves roasting the meat over an open flame, giving it a smoky and slightly charred flavor. The dish is often served with a variety of accompaniments, such as naan bread, raita, and fresh salad, and is typically enjoyed as a special occasion or festival dish.

Sajji is a delicious and flavorful dish that is loved by people all over Pakistan and has gained popularity across the globe. Its smoky and spicy flavor makes it a great option for meat lovers and it is often considered a must-try dish for those seeking to experience the diverse flavors of Pakistani cuisine.

7. Karahi

Karahi is a popular Pakistani dish that is named after the traditional cooking vessel it is prepared in. The dish is made by simmering meat, typically chicken, lamb, or goat, in a spicy tomato-based gravy that is seasoned with a variety of aromatic spices, including cumin, coriander, and turmeric. The dish is often cooked with green chili peppers, garlic, and ginger for added flavor.

The unique aspect of Karahi is its cooking method, which involves cooking the meat and gravy in a heavy-bottomed wok-like cooking vessel, called a Karahi. The meat is cooked until it is tender and juicy and the gravy has a slightly thick consistency. The dish is often garnished with fresh cilantro and ginger and is served with naan bread or rice.

Karahi is a staple of Pakistani cuisine and is enjoyed by people across the country. It is a great dish for meat lovers who enjoy spicy and flavorful food. Its rich and aromatic flavors make it a must-try dish for anyone looking to explore the diverse and delicious flavors of Pakistani cuisine.

8. Lassi

Lassi is a traditional Pakistani drink that is made with a blend of yogurt, water, and various seasonings, such as sugar, salt, and cardamom. The drink has a creamy and refreshing consistency, and is often served as a refreshing beverage during hot summer months.

There are different variations of Lassi, including sweet lassi, salted lassi, and mango lassi. Sweet Lassi is made with sugar or honey, and is a popular beverage among those with a sweet tooth. Salted Lassi is made with salt and roasted cumin seeds and is a popular savory beverage. Mango Lassi is made by blending mango pulp with yogurt, and is a popular variation of the drink.

Lassi is a healthy drink that is packed with beneficial probiotics and is known for its cooling properties. It is a popular beverage in Pakistan and is often served with meals or as a standalone drink. If you are looking for a refreshing and healthy beverage to try, Lassi is definitely worth a try.

9. Gulab jamun

Gulab Jamun is a popular Pakistani dessert that is made from milk solids, which are kneaded into a dough, and then shaped into small balls. The balls are then deep-fried until they are golden brown and are soaked in a sweet syrup that is flavored with rose water, cardamom, and saffron.

The dessert is soft, spongy, and has a melt-in-your-mouth texture that is enjoyed by people across Pakistan. It is often served at weddings, special occasions, and festivals, and is a popular dessert that is loved by both children and adults.

Gulab Jamun is best served hot, and is often garnished with chopped nuts, such as pistachios or almonds. It is a perfect dessert to end any meal, and is a must-try for those who love sweet and indulgent desserts.

10. Halwa Puri

Halwa Puri is a popular Pakistani breakfast dish that is typically eaten on weekends and special occasions. The dish consists of two main components: halwa and puri. Halwa is a sweet, sticky pudding made from semolina, sugar, ghee, and various spices, such as cardamom and cinnamon. Puri, on the other hand, is a deep-fried bread that is made from wheat flour.

The sweet and slightly spicy halwa is served alongside the crispy and golden-brown puris, and is often accompanied by chickpeas, chutney, and achaar. The combination of sweet and savory flavors makes Halwa Puri a unique and flavorful dish that is loved by many.

Halwa Puri is a popular breakfast dish that is enjoyed by people across Pakistan. It is often served at weddings, festivals, and other special occasions, and is a great way to start the day off on a delicious and indulgent note. If you’re looking to experience the authentic flavors of Pakistani cuisine, then Halwa Puri is definitely a must-try dish.

11. Paya

Paya is a traditional Pakistani dish that is made from slow-cooked lamb or beef trotters, which are the feet of the animal. The meat is boiled until it is tender and flavorful, and is then simmered in a spiced broth that is flavored with garlic, ginger, onions, and other aromatic spices.

Paya is a nutritious and hearty dish that is often enjoyed during the winter months. It is known for its rich, meaty flavor and is often served with a side of naan or other bread. It is a dish that is loved by many, and is often served at weddings, special occasions, and family gatherings.

Paya is a dish that requires a lot of time and patience to prepare, as the meat needs to be cooked slowly and carefully to ensure that it is tender and flavorful. It is a dish that is considered a delicacy in Pakistani cuisine, and is definitely worth a try if you’re looking to experience the authentic flavors of Pakistani cuisine.

12. Bihari kebab

Bihari Kebab is a popular Pakistani dish that is known for its rich and spicy flavor. It originated in the state of Bihar, India, but has since become a beloved dish in Pakistan, particularly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab regions.

Bihari Kebab is made from marinated beef that is seasoned with a mixture of various spices, including cumin, coriander, garlic, and ginger. The meat is then skewered and grilled over hot coals until it is tender and flavorful. The grilling process gives the kebab a slightly charred and smoky flavor, which adds to its appeal.

Bihari Kebab is often served with naan, raita, and chutney, and is a popular street food in Pakistan. It is a dish that is loved by many, and is often served at weddings, festivals, and other special occasions. If you’re a fan of spicy and flavorful meat dishes, then Bihari Kebab is definitely worth a try.

13. Chana chaat

Chana Chaat is a popular Pakistani street food dish that is made from chickpeas, also known as chana. The dish is a tangy and spicy combination of boiled chickpeas, chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies, and a variety of spices and chutneys.

To make Chana Chaat, the boiled chickpeas are mixed with spices like cumin, coriander, and chaat masala, which is a tangy spice blend. The dish is then topped with a generous amount of tamarind and mint chutneys, which give it a sweet and sour taste. Other popular toppings include diced tomatoes, chopped onions, and fresh green chilies.

Chana Chaat is a popular street food in Pakistan, particularly during the summer months when people crave light and refreshing dishes. It is a healthy and nutritious snack that is packed with protein and fiber, making it a great option for vegetarians and vegans. If you’re looking to try a traditional Pakistani street food dish that is both delicious and healthy, then Chana Chaat is definitely worth a try.

14. Aloo Paratha

Aloo Paratha is a popular Pakistani breakfast dish that is made from unleavened dough stuffed with a spiced potato filling. The dough is typically made from whole wheat flour, which is then filled with a mixture of mashed potatoes, onions, green chilies, and spices like cumin and coriander.

To make Aloo Paratha, the dough is rolled out into a flat round shape and the potato mixture is added in the center. The dough is then wrapped around the filling and rolled out into a thin, circular shape. The paratha is then cooked on a hot griddle until it is golden brown and crispy.

Aloo Paratha is typically served with a side of yogurt or raita, and is often enjoyed as a breakfast dish or as a snack. It is a hearty and filling dish that is loved by many, and is often considered a comfort food in Pakistani cuisine. If you’re looking to try a delicious and traditional Pakistani breakfast dish, then Aloo Paratha is definitely worth a try.

15. Bhuna Gosht

Bhuna Gosht is a popular Pakistani dish that is made from tender pieces of meat that have been cooked slowly with a blend of aromatic spices. The term “bhuna” refers to the cooking process of the meat, which involves frying the meat in a thick sauce until it is well-browned and flavorful.

To make Bhuna Gosht, the meat is typically marinated in a blend of spices, including cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. It is then slowly cooked in a tomato-based gravy with a variety of vegetables, such as onions, ginger, and garlic. The cooking process involves frequent stirring, which helps to thicken the sauce and intensify the flavors.

Bhuna Gosht is typically served with hot naan bread or steamed rice, and is a popular dish for special occasions such as weddings and festivals. It is a hearty and flavorful dish that is loved by many, and is considered a staple of Pakistani cuisine. If you’re looking to try a delicious and traditional Pakistani meat dish, then Bhuna Gosht is definitely worth a try.

16. Nargisi Kofta

 

Nargisi Kofta is a popular Pakistani dish that is made from hard-boiled eggs that have been coated in a spiced ground meat mixture and then deep-fried. The dish is typically served with a rich and flavorful gravy made from onions, tomatoes, and a blend of aromatic spices.

To make Nargisi Kofta, the hard-boiled eggs are coated in a mixture of ground meat, which is typically lamb or beef, along with a blend of spices such as cumin, coriander, and garam masala. The coated eggs are then deep-fried until they are golden brown and crispy.

The gravy for Nargisi Kofta is made by frying onions until they are soft and brown, and then adding tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and a blend of spices. The mixture is then simmered until it has thickened and the flavors have melded together.

Nargisi Kofta is a delicious and indulgent dish that is often served for special occasions such as weddings and festivals. It is a rich and flavorful dish that is loved by many and is considered a staple of Pakistani cuisine. If you’re looking to try a traditional Pakistani dish that is both delicious and indulgent, then Nargisi Kofta is definitely worth a try.

17. Shami Kebab

Shami Kebab is a popular Pakistani dish that is made from a spiced mixture of ground meat, chickpeas, and a variety of aromatic spices. The mixture is typically shaped into small patties and then pan-fried until they are crispy and golden brown.

To make Shami Kebab, the meat is first boiled with a blend of spices and then ground into a fine paste. The chickpeas are then cooked and mashed into the mixture, along with a variety of spices such as cumin, coriander, and garam masala.

The mixture is then shaped into small patties and pan-fried until they are golden brown and crispy on the outside. Shami Kebab is typically served with a side of chutney or a squeeze of lime juice, which helps to enhance the flavors of the dish.

Shami Kebab is a popular street food in Pakistan and is also served at many restaurants and cafes. It is a delicious and flavorful dish that is loved by many and is considered a staple of Pakistani cuisine. If you’re looking to try a traditional Pakistani dish that is both delicious and easy to make, then Shami Kebab is definitely worth a try.

18. Zarda

Zarda is a traditional sweet dish from Pakistan, often served at special occasions like weddings, religious celebrations, and festivals. It is a rice-based dessert made with long-grain basmati rice, flavored with saffron, cardamom, and topped with nuts and dried fruits.

The rice is cooked in a mixture of sugar and water until it becomes tender and fluffy. Saffron is added to give the dish its signature golden color and a sweet aroma. Cardamom is added to give it a warm and fragrant flavor. The nuts and dried fruits, such as almonds, raisins, and cashews, are added on top to give the dish a crunchy texture and extra sweetness.

Zarda is a popular and cherished dessert in Pakistan, with every region having its own unique recipe. It is often served with other sweet dishes like gulab jamun and ras malai, and is a favorite among both adults and children.

Overall, Zarda is a delicious and festive dessert that represents the rich and diverse culture of Pakistan.

19. Chapli Kabab Roll

Chapli Kabab Roll is a popular street food in Pakistan, particularly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It is a type of sandwich wrap made with a traditional Pakistani minced meat kebab, called Chapli Kabab, and a variety of flavorful ingredients.

The Chapli Kabab is made from ground beef or mutton mixed with spices such as coriander, cumin, and dried pomegranate seeds. It is then formed into patties and cooked on a flat griddle until crispy and charred.

To make the Chapli Kabab Roll, the cooked Chapli Kabab is wrapped in a paratha, a type of flatbread made with wheat flour and cooked on a griddle with oil. The paratha is spread with a spicy chutney made with mint, coriander, and green chilies. It is then topped with onions, tomatoes, and a squeeze of lemon.

The result is a delicious and satisfying snack that is both spicy and flavorful. The juicy and tender Chapli Kabab pairs perfectly with the tangy and fresh vegetables and the soft and flaky paratha.

Chapli Kabab Roll is a popular and affordable street food that is loved by many Pakistanis and visitors to the country. It is easy to find in street stalls and food carts, and is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the rich and delicious flavors of Pakistani cuisine.

20. Kulfi

Kulfi is a popular frozen dessert from Pakistan that is similar to ice cream, but with a denser and creamier texture. It is a traditional dessert that has been enjoyed in Pakistan and other South Asian countries for centuries.

Kulfi is made by boiling milk and reducing it until it becomes thick and creamy. This mixture is then sweetened with sugar and flavored with a variety of ingredients such as cardamom, saffron, pistachios, and almonds. The mixture is then poured into molds and frozen until it becomes firm.

Kulfi is traditionally served on a stick, similar to a popsicle, and is often topped with chopped nuts, rose syrup, and saffron strands. It is a refreshing dessert that is perfect for hot summer days and is enjoyed by people of all ages.

Kulfi is available in many flavors, including mango, pistachio, rose, and chocolate. It is sold in street stalls, restaurants, and grocery stores throughout Pakistan. It is also a popular dessert at weddings and other celebrations.

In Pakistan, Kulfi is not just a dessert, but a cultural tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a symbol of the country’s rich culinary heritage and a delicious treat that is enjoyed by millions of people around the world.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, Pakistani cuisine offers a wide variety of delicious and flavorful dishes that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage and diverse regional cuisines. From traditional dishes like biryani, haleem, and nihari, to street food favorites like samosas, chaat, and pakoras, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Pakistani cuisine also includes a range of sweet treats, such as kulfi, zarda, and gajar ka halwa, that are perfect for satisfying a sweet tooth. Many of these desserts have been enjoyed in Pakistan for centuries and continue to be a beloved part of the country’s culinary traditions.

Whether you are a local or a visitor to Pakistan, the country’s cuisine offers a unique and unforgettable experience. From the spices and herbs used to the flavors and textures of the food, Pakistani cuisine is truly a delight for the senses. Overall, the best foods in Pakistan represent the country’s diverse culture, history, and hospitality, and offer a window into the heart of this beautiful nation.

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