Food & Culture

Pakistan’s food is a reflection of its kaleidoscopic culture. A pot-pouri of making, serving and eating traditions passed down from generations across the various countries that the land of Pak shares boundaries, seem to have influenced the perfectly seasoned and diverse cuisine of Pakistan. While cuisine find routes in Punjabi, Sindhi, Mughlai, Deccani, Gilgiti, Balochi, and Pashtun, the eating mannerism, especially usage of the takht or a small table, tall enough to offer a raised platform while sitting and eating, is a product of the Afghani traditions.

Islamabad being the cosmopolitan heart of the country, is a host to several international culinary traditions, apart from just the local ones. Talking about the staples, rice, roti and naans, are prepared during different meals and served with different curries. For instance, rice is mostly consumed during the day, however, at special occasions, Biryanis, Pulaos and rice too are part of dinners. Starters or snacks in the city vary from region to region, however, kebabs, like shami kebab, seekh kebab, chapli kebab, malai tikka kebab are some cult favourites. Vegetarians have a lot of options too, as lentils and pulses constitute a major portion of groceries, snacks like pakoda, chaat, samosa, dahi bhala, gol gappe, and panipuri have a special place in the hearts of streetfood lovers.

However, the magic ingredient(s) behind these luscious and aromatic dishes are the spices. Chillies, turmeric, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds and a myriad of other herbs and spices together form the backbone of every kitchen in Islamabad. No matter whether it’s a Korma or Baingan Bharta, spices are the essence of all everyday specialities. But in case, expats want to experiment with international cuisines locally, there are several fancy and sub-fancy spots to satiate your hunger for continental food in Islamabad.