By: Hafsa Mustansar
Food that is main component of life is essential for existence of living beings. In primitive times food was not just contemplated as a source of energy, it was part of cosmic cycle. Undoubtedly, it is a central thing of human’s biological and social life. The Indian subcontinent that has diversified in their geography. Due to their diversity, it has alluvial and fertile land that is favorable for the production and cultivation of contrasting things. Pakistan is a country that is located in South Asia. It is known by their zesty and flavorsome food all across the world. Pakistani, the food reflects Iranian, Afghani, Persian style because they were invaded Indian Subcontinent various time in history.Historically speaking, in Indian subcontinent, there is no single thing that has not influenced by foreigners. In every aspect of their life whether it is social or religious foreigners had played important role in introducing some definite things. Nevertheless, Pakistan’s cuisines have their own regional taste that coming same from generation to generation with little bit modification.
Pakistan like their cultural diversity have diversity in food and taste. Indus Valley Civilization that is considered the first urban civilization introduced the wheat and barley first time in history of mankind. Formerly, the Stone Age human being was focused on animals prey as their food. Gradually, with the advent of Bronze Age civilization the primitive people started domestication. In addition, the Indus people also produced peas, Sesame, Rai, mustard and rice. It is assumed that the people of Indus had a balanced diet that consisted of fruits, milk, staples, meat and vegetables. During the Vedic period people, the food structure did not change. At that time milk of cows, buffalos and goats were widely used. Dadhi (currently, dahi or curd) was eaten with rice. Aryans that emerged from Indo-Iranian tribe and lived at Indian subcontinent were competent farmers. They cultivated wheat, rice, barley and kept their crop storage in every city where they lived. They lived along the banks of rivers and had a fondness to catching fish through fish hook. Portuguese were introduced potato, tomato and tobacco at this region. In Indian Subcontinent, before arrival of Islam, there was no prohibition on eating of pork. The royal people were used to eat pork and along the buffalos, cows, they domesticated pigs too. During 1100 A.D. Numerous people stopped to eat pork because, it was forbidden in the Quran. At that time, they people started to eat fruits especially, the citrus fruits.
The Mughal Empire that started with the ruler Babur in Indian subcontinent also gave us many rich traditions of food that they brought with them from Central Asia. Through, travelogues, diaries and memoirs we are able to know about their food traditions. Babur did not like Indian food. He used to eat the fresh fruits and meat. Beside these, he was desirous to eat fish. During Hamyun reign the Mughals kitchen saw the influence of Iranian food traditions because of Hamyun Iranian wife that instigated the use of saffron and dry fruits in their food. It was written in Akbarnama, there was a specific budget existed for kitchen during the reign of Akbar. Akbar was a vegetarian and introduced the Indian taste in their food. During the reign of Shah Jhan they cooked the food by using of turmeric, cumin, coriander and red chilies because of their medical properties. The origin of many dishes traces back to Mughal period that are Kichdi (the dish of rice), Palau (dish of rice, meat and other ingredients), Sikh Kebab. And many milk based dishes. Colonial period had also introduced certain food at this region. Before their emergence, the people of this region used to eat two times a day but they introduced to eat thrice in a day. Breakfast basically is the legacy of British in this area.
Pakistan has diversity in their culture. Every province of Pakistan has its unique popular cuisines that are different from other province and has its own exquisite taste. Baluchistan that is famous for its Saji it consists of whole chicken and lamb on skewers that marinated for long period and then roasted on the coal. A rock hard prepared bread also originated from Baluchistan that is regionally known as Kaak. Other than Khaaki, Dampukht (made with meat and excessively used meat fats in this dish) and KhaddiKabab (cooked a whole lamb on fire) are well known cuisines of Baluchistan. As the southwestern region of Pakistan has coastal area so, it is also known by the unique style of fish Saji that comes from the Turbat city of Baluchistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that is located in the northwestern region of Pakistan is popular by the lamb cuisines. Lamb is more eaten in Pashtuns region than in any other region of Pakistan. Chaplin Kebab is Mughal influenced Pashtun style kabab that are made of minced meat and usually famous from the Charsadda region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Kabli Pulao (blend of savory and sweet carrots, meat and rice) that is considerd the ancestor of Yakhni Pulao of Central Asia. Kandhari and Peshawri Naan both are rich Mughal recipes and gets its name from Peshawar that is the main city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The other province of Pakistan that is largest by population and has a considerable love for food,Punjab, that is notable for Makai ki roti and Sarsonka Sag, Halwapori (thin deep fried bread served with Halwa).
DaalMakhni that is primarily Punjabi dish and it is made up of pretentious ingredients like lentils, butter and cream that are highly nutritious for health too. Other than these dishes, one sweet dish also renowned in the region of Punjab that is Jalebi made up of fermented better of all-purpose flour and sugar syrup.Nihari that was originally came from the Muslims Nawabs that used to do their breakfast with it. In Punjab, especially, Lahore and Gujranwala the people have great temptation for Nihari with Naan during their breakfast. Sindh province that is located at the southern side of Pakistan and has close proximity with Indian Gujrat and Rajasthan area has shared their food traditions with them. A Sindh region of Pakistan is renowned for having vibrant colors food cuisines the most prominent one is the Sindhi Biryani that is famous for its unique and fiery taste. It is Spicer than other regional Biryanis of Pakistan. ChittiKuni that mostly made during special occasions and it is made of seven vegetables. Besides these two, Palla that is a great unofficial regional dish of fish has great significance in Sindh province. Similar to Baluchistan, Sindh has also its special type of flat bread that is usually made of wheat and known as Koki.
The northern provinces of Pakistan, Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir are known for their mild food and their food has central Asian influence. Both areas are located at the northern side of Pakistan and they have faced severe cold atmosphere that’s why their popular cuisines reflects the climatic condition of those areas. Due to cold climate the people of these areas have more fondness towards those foods that would save them from Cold environment. Most famous food dishes are Mamtoo this food dish is mainly originated from China, but it has some unique style in the region in the region of Gilgit. It is meat stuffed dumplings that are steamed in streamer.
As well as Chap Shoro is well known dish of Hunza that is usually cooked on weddings and special seasons. Despite of these, this region has other notable dishes that are very luscious Dawdo, Khalmuloot and special bread soup with chunks of meat. Region of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan has rice as a staple food. They devour meat of different styles. The most delicious food item that is famous in other region of Pakistan is buttery Kulchas that usually made up of dough of wheat flour and other ingredients. Their tastes vary from sweet to savory. In this region, the religious people ardently eat piping hot Halwa (oversweet substance usually made from Soji, flour, butterand Dates).Furthermore, Sauces and pickles of varying flavor have great significance in Pakistan’s foodstuffs. A varied number of spices that are garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, ginger and cinnamon are the main ingredients of their food.Now-a-days folks of Pakistan are amalgamating their rich food traditions with western culinary. Although, the food of Pakistan is going to be westernized but the people made those dishes or recipes according to their own taste and style.
In Pakistan, food cuisines are being existed in varying styles. Pakistani food is known for their aroma and exotic tastes. Pakistani, food is highly influenced by religious and cultural choice. The cuisines of Pakistan is evolved according to the Islamic beliefs. According to some recent researches, it is concluded that Pakistan spend their 40% of Income on food. Shortly, Pakistan is the land of scrumptious foods.