Pakistani cuisine is a diverse and delicious blend of flavors from across the region. From the hearty stews of Punjab to the fiery curries of Sindh, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
10 Best Pakistani Foods
Nihari starts with a mix of dry spices frying in vegetable oil and animal fat. Then, the meat (usually beef shank) and a generous amount of homemade local clarified butter called Desi Ghee are added. The stew is cooked slowly in a big pot. The consistency of Nihari is thick and rich, with tender meat pieces floating in the ghee. It has a deep red color from the spices and infused ghee.
When you eat Nihari, it’s typically served on communal plate-trays. You can garnish it with fragrant sliced ginger, spicy green chilies, and a squeeze of fresh lime or two. If you’re in Lahore, you should try Nihari at Waris Nihari. In Karachi, I highly recommend Javed Nihari.
2. Kabuli Pulao
Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, is close to the KP Province of Pakistan. Silk Road traders may have brought the first Kabuli Pulao dishes to Western Pakistan. Pulao is made with rice fried in oil and mixed with spices. It often includes mutton or beef meat and is flavored with saffron and mild spices. Cardamom cloves and golden sultana raisins add a sweet aroma. Some restaurants garnish it with peanuts and pistachios.
You can easily spot pulao being cooked in a large stainless steel vessel with a unique bell-like shape, tilted at an angle. Kabuli Pulao is aromatic, visually appealing, and incredibly tasty. It’s a perfect lunch dish to enjoy while exploring the vibrant streets of Pakistani cities, particularly in and around Peshawar.
Karahi is a beloved Pakistani dish, enjoyed by all. It can be found everywhere, from small roadside shops to lavish kitchens. The key ingredients are tomatoes, onions, and animal fat, creating a flavorful broth. The dish is cooked on high heat with a large pan and metal spatula, creating a rhythmic motion. After adding oil, meat, and spices, it is transferred to a serving tray. The process can be intense, causing the chef to take a breath and wipe their brow.
Haleem is a hearty dish from Pakistan influenced by the Middle East. It’s made with barley, wheat, and chickpeas. It’s slow-cooked for a long time to get a home-cooked flavor. Onions, mint, chilies, and masala spices are added. It’s best for breakfast or early lunch, providing energy for the day. A good bowl of haleem with roti, milk, or green tea can make you feel satisfied. You can enjoy delicious Haleem in Lahore’s Old City area. Watch the video to see how amazing it is!
5. Halwa Puri
Halwa puri is a beloved Pakistani breakfast. It consists of crispy, thin dough (puri) served with sweet semolina pudding (halwa) and chickpea curry. You can enjoy the puris by scooping up the side dishes and alternating between bites of halwa and chickpeas. The meal is typically accompanied by a cup of dud pathi, which is milk-only tea.
6. Mutton Korma
To enjoy a traditional meal from Punjab, it’s important to have at least one dish with mutton. One popular choice is a delicious mutton korma curry, like the one shown here. Mutton korma is a flavorful and satisfying dish made with tender pieces of sheep or goat meat cooked in a rich, dark red spice blend.
From the snowy peaks of Pakistan’s Himalayas to the southern regions of the Indian Sub-Continent, many people around the world are likely craving their mother’s mutton curry right now. If you happen to be in Lahore, Pakistan, make sure not to miss the mutton korma at Khan Baba restaurant—it’s truly amazing!
9. Tikka Kebab
Pakistani tikkas are a favorite dish in Central Asia. They are like special kebabs made with larger pieces of marinated meat. Unlike regular kebabs that are made with minced meat, tikka uses chunks of meat. It has been enjoyed by nomadic herders and kings in the past, and it continues to be popular today, especially in the roadside BBQs of big cities.
People in this region love eating skewers of meat cooked over an open flame. I have tried similar dishes in various countries, and Pakistani tikka is definitely one of the best.
In Urdu, Paya means ‘legs,’ and it’s considered one of the best foods in Pakistan.The recipe is simple, but it takes a long time to prepare. The amazing flavor comes from slow cooking it for several hours, usually starting the night before it’s served at a restaurant.
The main ingredients are onions, red oil with curry spices, and large amounts of bone-in goat legs and feet. Stewing the meat for hours makes the tendons and cartilage around the joints juicy and easy to chew. The red curry broth enhances the overall flavor and makes it incredibly tasty. This dish is always enjoyed with a stack of fresh, hot roti bread. It’s a rich, meaty, and delightfully slippery experience that you shouldn’t miss when in Pakistan.