Every country in the world has its own peculiar taste in food. While some people prefer subtle and mildly flavored dishes, others like to add a strong punch of flavors to their meals. These flavors may be tangy, sweet, umami, aromatic, spicy, or a combination of all six. Pakistani food, in general, lies in the category of “strongly-flavored” due to the abundant use of fragrant spices like garam masala, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, green and red chilies along with plenty of desi ghee, meat, and all kinds of vegetables.
Pakistani cuisine is influenced by regional food cultures, and South Asian, Central Asian, and Middle-Eastern and Pakistani street food is no exception. Many tourists relish the street food in Pakistan as it’s not only appealing, interesting, and delicious, but also super affordable and regarded as the heart of the cuisine. Therefore, if you have a strong passion to experience diverse foods, don’t forget to try these Pakistani street foods that speak of a rich cultural and culinary diversity in the region.
1. Bun Kebab
Bun kebab is also known as “anday wala burger” (literally meaning “egg burger”). It is a type of sandwich in which the buns are lightly toasted on a tawa and tucked with chicken patty, omelet, green chilies, onion rings and accompanied by a variety of sweet, sour, and spicy chutneys. It has its place of origin in Pakistan and can be easily found on the streets of Lahore, Karachi, and other big cities.
2. Masala French Fries
If you are a lover of crispy and spicy food, then masala French fries are probably the best street food for you to have in Pakistan. After all, who doesn’t love French fries?! They are prepared by coating sliced potatoes in a batter of gram flour, ajwain, garlic powder, and some seasonings. The potatoes are then deep fried until they turn golden brown. Right out of the hot oil, they are further dredged with different spices like chaat masala, chili powder, cumin powder as well as black pepper, and salt.
3. Spicy Papad
Spicy papad is another snack that can be seen abundantly sold by street vendors in Pakistan. It is a thin and crispy snack consisting of deep-fried or grilled dough made from gram flour and spices. Once cooked, papad is further seasoned with a variety of spices including red chili powder, Himalayan black salt, or chaat masala.
Shawarma or doner kebab is a Middle-eastern snack that has gained much popularity as street food all over Pakistan. It is a wrap stuffed with thinly sliced roasted meat, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, pickled vegetables, mayonnaise dip, or tahini sauce. The main ingredients used in it are lamb, mutton, chicken, or beef cuts that are tightly stacked on a vertical spit that slowly rotates, roasting the meat from all sides.
Paratha is a type of flatbread usually eaten with curry, pulses, or simply with a hot cup of doodh patti or chai. It can be found for sale on road-style cafes, and street stalls all over Pakistan. It’s eminent in other South Asian countries as well. Although everyone’s style of making paratha is slightly different in shape and ingredients, the base of all parathas is the same: flour dough, cooking oil, or desi ghee.
6. Chicken Tikka
Chicken tikka is one of the most popular street foods not only in Pakistan but all over the world. It involves small pieces of boneless chicken, soaked in yogurt and spices, and stacked on skewers. They are traditionally grilled over a coal fire to infuse the smokey flavor into the meat. The most amazing thing about chicken tikka is: it pairs well with other delicious Pakistani dishes like seekh kebabs, biryani, and mutton pilaf, and hence an ultimate favorite among the locals.