Pakistan is roughly the same size as France or Texas, and has a wider variety of available cuisines than an outsider may ever have imagined. I love to learn about food and culture and wanted to share with you a few interesting aspects of Pakistani cuisine based on regional features of the country that few may know about.
Is Noodle Soup a Pakistani Food?
In parts of Pakistan, the languages are actually related to Tibetan (some are mutually intelligible with Ladhakhi). Noodle soups are eaten there. You can google 'Hunza dodo' to see the way this soup is prepared in the region of Hunza, for example. Also, you can look into the cuisine of Baltistan if you are interested.
Is There South Indian Food in Pakistan?
People of South Indian origin reside in Pakistan. Besides the large amount of Hyderabad Indian origin people in Karachi, there are other people whose families are originally from various parts of South India. Almost all of these people will be found in Karachi. There is a neighborhood in Nazimabad, Karachi called 'Madrasi Colony.' It is just a center where some Tamils settled after partition. The majority ethnicity in Pakistan is Punjabi. Pakistan is very diverse, and in each province, there are distinct indigenous communities. In major urban centers, there are many people whose families came from India at Partition, and one can find many of the same diverse groups that are in India, Marathis, Konkanis, Burmese-Gujaratis, Biharis, Bhopalis, U.P. origin people, and so on…their family heritage adds distinct particularities to their food preferences and home cooking styles.
Is There Pakistani Vegetarian Food?
Though non-vegetarian food is what comes to mind when someone mentions Pakistani food, there are a range of vegetarian options including karhi pakora, lauki daal, mungori, and many other dishes that would be shared with Northern and North Western India. North Indian vegetables can also be found in Pakistani markets, including karela, lauki, arvi, turai, tinda, kaddu, all the greens, among others. All of the typical North Indian vegetable dishes are consumed in Pakistan.
What is a Traditional Pakistani Meal?
A "proper" full meal will have a meat dish (or two), one or two sabzis, daal, pickles, fresh sliced vegetables, rice, and roti or some other flat bread. What people will be eating specifically will depend on region, the season, and so on. Poorer people (the majority of people) often eat vegetarian, not due to religious reasons but only economic constraints. Villagers in Pakistan would be eating the same plain rice, daal, salt, onions, and green chiles as villagers in North India.
The iconic dishes of Pakistan are mainly meaty. But what is "Pakistani cuisine"? There is no such thing. Just like there is no such thing as "Indian cuisine" in any real sense. Like, the foods of Indian Punjab are not like the foods of Tamil Nadu. And within Tamil Nadu, the foods of Chennai are distinct; the foods of Iyers are different from the foods of Chettiyaar communities, different from Iyengars, different near the Kerala border, different for the multiple distinct communities of Muslims, and so on. Because of this it is hard to pin down "Pakistani food."
With all that being said, I have tried my best to share with you some of the lesser known aspects of Pakistani food and culture. I am happy to learn more by reading your insightful comments posted on this blog.
Thank you for reading.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011