The Pakistani cuisine is not as much recognized then its Indian counterpart with it’s rich tradition, full of marvelous and variety of dishes. Although Pakistan is a relatively younger country, the Pakistani cuisine has evolved over the years and contains elements from its neighbours – India, Afghanistan and Iran. The various regions also means there are a wide variety of different foods – from the fertile valleys and the sea of Sindh province; to pastoral Baluchistan from adjoining Iran; to the Punjab with its five rivers and the rugged North West Frontier, home of the chapli kebab.
The combination of Indian, Far Eastern and Middle Eastern cooking methods produces a unique mix of complex tastes. The use of pomegranate seeds in several meat dishes adds a sweet, sour note and demonstrates the Middle Eastern impact on the food.
Some essential dishes are slow cooked, such as the popular haleem, a mix of pulses, meat and spices that is cooked for up to seven or eight hours. Pakistanis refer to it as ‘haleem, king of curry’. It’s a thick stew, generally served with the fresh flavor of lemon, coriander and ginger. Lamb is the most popular meat, followed by beef, chicken and goat. Ghee and yoghurt are used in the cooking of many types of meat.
Pakistan is normally considered as a bread culture, with meals being eaten with the right hand and naan bread or roti used to scoop up curries and accompaniments as is the practice in Muslim culture. Other common breads include chapati and parata – fried bread filled with dhal or meat and vegetable mixtures.
Pakistan is also the birthplace of the tandoor oven, which is used to cook numerous of the breads as well as meats like chicken, lamb or fish. The rice in Pakistan is considered amongst the greatest in the world with long grain basmati rice particularly prized and used in the traditional biryani, a impressive mixture of spiced rice that is usually cooked with meat but can also be vegetarian.
Sweets are abundant, using generous amounts of ghee, sugar and nuts such as pistachios and almonds. Halva (meaning sweet) is one of the most popular sweets and can be made with flour or semolina but can also be made with carrot or pumpkin. Many sweets are also infused with aromatic essences like rosewater.