Culture of Pakistan
Pakistani cuisine is as diverse as its people. It is also inspired by the historical evolution of the cultural affiliations and available resources in the area. In a broader sense, Pakistani cuisine is a blend of its western neighbors (Afghanistan, Iran) and eastern neighbor (India) and influences from Central Asia and China. Depending on the region and the people, many dishes have evolved into their own unique and distinct characters.
Meat is an important part of the Pakistani diet, while vegetables and lentils are also commonly used. Wheat and rice are the main staple of Pakistani food. The imaginative and varied uses of spices, herbs and seasonings have transformed the otherwise simple staple into exotic concoctions.
Cultural influences and practices of local ceremonies and traditions, even aesthetic preferences, have contributed to the evolution of Pakistani cuisine. Cuisine in Pakistan also has a regional character, with each of the four provinces maintaining their distinct styles.
Punjab, the most populous province in Pakistan, is the land of five rivers. Punjabi food is healthy and full of rustic flavor. Punjab has absorbed some aspects of its cuisine from outside influences. The “Moghlai” style of cooking, using tandoor ovens and elaborate preparations, is very popular. The people of Punjab (especially in the villages) are also fond of Palak (Spinach) eaten with Paneer (homemade cheese) and Chapatis made from Besan (gram flour). Makke di Roti (cornbread) and Sarson Ka Saag (local specialty made from mustard leaves) are equally popular in a typical Punjabi house. Dals (lentils) are a specialty of Punjabi cuisine.
Watch a tourist exploring Punjabi food in Lahore here.
The province of Balochistan has the largest area, but is also the least populated. It is a land of contrast with high and rugged mountains, plain, stretching for hundreds of miles and sandy beaches. Balochistan is also known for the variety of its fruits like apples, melons, plums, cherries and pomegranates. Balochistan is a very meat-consuming culture, where cooks use the Sajji method to grill the whole leg of lamb, stuck to the ground using long wooden skewers with charcoal. A variation of this is the Khadda Kebab, where a pit is dug in the ground, a whole goat or lamb stuffed with rice is skewered, and a fire is lit on all four sides of the pit to gently roast the meat.
Watch this interactive video showing the landscape of Balochistan as well as food.
Sindh is at the heart of the Indus Valley civilization that dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. The mighty Indus River that flows through Sindh plays an important role in the life of the local community, including its cuisine and eating habits. The recipes are simple and the cuisine balanced. There is variety, there is taste, and there is nutrition in the simplest of foods. Sindhi use a lot of onions and tomatoes and form the basis of almost all Sindhi dishes. Sindhi Kadhi made from besan (gram flour) and tamarind is a popular local dish. Palla, the legendary fish from the Indus River is considered a delicacy of Sindh. The ancient town of Thatta in lower Sindh is also known for many local dishes like rari, a special desert made from heavy cream, skimmed in layers of freshly boiled milk; and Thanda Sharbat made from milk and a pasta of fresh almonds and cardamom.
Get a brief introduction to the Sindhi Food here
Food of the KP
The origin of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) cuisine is vast being a famous connecting center in the region. The kitchen is simple in concept but complex in its flavors. Cooking in KP is much simpler and involves the intensive use of lamb and beef. The regional specialty is the Chappal kebab, a round flat kebab made with ground beef mixed with solid spice, lots of onion, tomatoes, eggs and fried in a giant frying pan. Another popular dish is karahi gosht. Karhai, a cooking vessel that evolved from the wok, lends itself to a flat meal, incorporating hand ingredients quickly sautéed with aromatic spices to produce an all-in-one meal served straight from the stove on top of the pan to table . Peshawar, the provincial capital is the gateway to the legendary Khyber Pass, leading to Kabul and beyond. The city is known for its densely packed and clear bazaars. One of them, the Namak Mandi (salt market), offers excellent tikkas (cubes of meat grilled over charcoal), while the famous Kissa Khawani (storyteller’s bazaar) is the perfect place to savor countless cups of kahva in a samovar, flavored with cinnamon and cardamom.
Watch the exploration of the street food of Peshawar here
Music has long been a part of Pakistani culture. Traditional and modern styles abound. The ghazal, a type of romantic poem, is often set to music. Ghazal singers such as Mehdi Hassan, Noor Jahan and Ghulam Ali have developed a large following at home and abroad. Qawwali, a form of devotional chanting associated with Sufism, is also widely practiced and has influenced a number of popular styles. One of its biggest supporters, Nusrat Fatah Ali Khan rose to fame in Pakistan as well as abroad. France was among the first countries to organize Nusrat concerts abroad.
Another form, folk music is found in all provinces of Pakistan, with a distinct local touch. In addition, contemporary popular music is also appreciated and appreciated in the country. Among the singers who made popular music famous in Pakistan were Nazia Hassan and Zoheb Hassan, Alamgir, and the music groups Vital Signs and Junoon. Currently, Coke Studio is a popular music program on Pakistani TV channels. It brings together a range of artists who sing folk and contemporary songs. Music also has its place in Pakistani cinema. It is common to have a number of songs in Pakistani movies. Traditional Pakistani musical instruments include the sitar, rubab, harmonium, and dhol.