Category Archives: Guest Blog

Food of Pakistan, Episode:5 Food of Baluchistan(South-West Pakistan)

The last instalment in the series from Bilal Umer about food of Pakistan! Thank you for sharing Bilal.

The Baloch have two meals a day, in the morning and evening. The food for the whole family is cooked together. The most important grain is wheat, but millet and rice are also eaten. Grains are ground into flour and made into unleavened bread (flat bread, without any ingredients to make it rise), which is baked in mud ovens.

Meat is an important part of the Baloch diet. Sajji is a favorite dish that is often served to honored guests. A sheep is killed, skinned, and carved into joints. The meat is sprinkled with salt. The pieces of meat are spitted on green twigs, which are stuck into the ground in front of a blazing log. Once cooked, this dish is eaten with a knife, although Baloch usually eat with their hands.

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Milk is drunk and also made into fresh cheese, buttermilk, and butter. In summer, a sherbet (lassi) is made with milk, molasses, and sugar. Dates and wild fruits and vegetables also form an important part of the Baloch diet.

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Traditional Dishes- Commonly Available in Gilgit-Baltistan

Maltash-chay-Giyalin ( Gral, Roɣ̌n, Qnda)

Prepared by

Muhammad Bilal Umer

bilalumer_1@yahoo.com

Episode:5 FOOD of Baluchistan(South-West Pakistan)

The Baloch have two meals a day, in the morning and evening. The food for the whole family is cooked together. The most important grain is wheat, but millet and rice are also eaten. Grains are ground into flour and made into unleavened bread (flat bread, without any ingredients to make it rise), which is baked in mud ovens.

Meat is an important part of the Baloch diet. Sajji is a favorite dish that is often served to honored guests. A sheep is killed, skinned, and carved into joints. The meat is sprinkled with salt. The pieces of meat are spitted on green twigs, which are stuck into the ground in front of a blazing log. Once cooked, this dish is eaten with a knife, although Baloch usually eat with their hands.

Milk is drunk and also made into fresh cheese, buttermilk, and butter. In summer, a sherbet (lassi) is made with milk, molasses, and sugar. Dates and wild fruits and vegetables also form an important part of the Baloch diet.

Traditional Dishes- Commonly Available in Gilgit-Baltistan

Maltash-chay-Giyalin ( Gral, Roɣ̌n, Qnda)

Prepared by

Muhammad Bilal Umer

bilalumer_1@yahoo.com


Food of Pakistan. Episode 4: Kashmiri cuisine (Pakistan North)

These posts are part of a fabulous series on “Foods of Pakistan” from my friend Bilal Umer. Thank you for sharing your culture with us!

“I wrote about Pakistani places in my last episode in February 2012. Food focuses the culture and weather of the region. Here I decided to write about the rich food of Pakistan in different cities. This is also a gift for Emma Lovelly to enjoy untouched Pakistani food. ” – Bilal Umer

Episode 4

Kashmiri cuisine (Kashmiri: کشور خیون; Kashur khyon, Urdu: کشمیری کھانا Kashmiri khaana) is based on the ancient tradition of this area. The Rigveda mentions the meat eating traditions of this area.The ancient epic of Kashmir, namely the Nilmatapurana informs us that Kashmiris were heavy meat eaters. This habit persists in today’s Kashmir.

The most notable ingredient in today’s Kashmir cuisine is mutton, of which there are over 30 varieties. Also to be noted are Balti curries, popular in the United Kingdom for their exotic tastes, that have spread from the Baltistan region of Pakistani Administered Kashmir.

Wazwan

Wazwan, a multi-course meal in the Kashmiri Muslim tradition, is treated with great respect. Its preparation is considered an art. Almost all the dishes are meat-based (lamb, chicken, fish).Beef is generally not prepared in the Srinagar region,but is popular among the other districts. It is considered a sacrilege to serve any dishes based around pulses or lentils during this feast. The traditional number of courses for the wazwan is thirty-six, though there can be fewer. The preparation is traditionally done by a vasta waza, or head chef, with the assistance of a court of wazas, or chefs.

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Wazwan is regarded by the Kashmiri Muslims as a core element of their culture and identity. Guests are grouped into fours for the serving of the wazwan. The meal begins with a ritual washing of hands, as a jug and basin called the tash-t-nari are passed among the guests. A large serving dish piled high with heaps of rice, decorated and quartered by four seekh kababs, four pieces of meth maaz, two tabak maaz, sides of barbecued ribs, and one safed kokur, one zafrani kokur, along with other dishes. The meal is accompanied by yoghurt garnished with Kashmiri saffron, salads, Kashmiri pickles and dips. Kashmiri Wazwan is generally prepared in marriages and other special functions. The culinary art is learnt through heredity and is rarely passed to outside blood relations. That has made certain waza/cook families very prominent. The wazas remain in great demand during the marriage season (May – October). The essential Wazwan dishes include:

  • Safed kokur or zafraan kokur
  • Meth maaze
  • Ristae
  • Rogan josh
  • Dhani phul
  • Aloo bukhaar: chutney made with fresh plums, onions, sugar, lime juice and spices
  • Gaade kufta
  • Tabak maaz: Fried lamb ribs
  • Daniwal korma: lamb in a yogurt-based gravy
  • Aab gosht: Lamb curry cooked in milk
  • Marcha-wangan korma
  • Sheekh kabab: spicy ground lamb on skewers
  • Gushtaab: Chopped lamb with spices cooked in oil, milk and curds
  • kebab
  • maach kebab

Kashmiri beverages

Noon Chai/Sheer Chai

Kashmiris are heavy tea drinkers. The word “noon” in Kashmiri language means Salt. The most popular drink is a pinkish colored salted tea called “noon chai.”It is made with green tea, milk, salt and bicarbonate of soda. The particular color of the tea is a result of its unique method of preparation and the addition of soda. The Kashmiri Pandits more commonly refer to this chai as “Sheer Chai.”

Noon Chai/Sheer Chai is a common breakfast tea in Kashmiri households and is taken with breads like baqerkhani brought fresh from the Sufi, or bakers. Often, this tea is served in a large Samovars.

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Kahwah

At marriage feasts, festivals, and religious places, it is customary to serve Kahwah, or Qahwah (originates from a 14th century Arab coffee, which, in turn, was named after an ancient beverage of the Sufis) – a green tea made with saffron, spices, and almonds or walnuts. Over 20 varieties of Kahwah are prepared in different households. Some people also put milk in kahwah (half milk + half kahwah). This chai is also known as “Maugal Chai” by some Kashmiri Pandits from the smaller villages of Kashmir.

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Prepared by

Muhammad Bilal Umer

bilalumer_1@yahoo.com


Food of Pakistan Episode 2: Punjabi Dishes (Pakistan North-East)

These posts are part of a fabulous series on “Foods of Pakistan” from my friend Bilal Umer. Thank you for sharing your culture with us! This is Episode 2 of the series.

“I wrote about Pakistani places in my last episode in February 2012. Food focuses the culture and weather of the region. Here I decided to write about the rich food of Pakistan in different cities. This is also a gift for Emma Lovelly to enjoy untouched Pakistani food. ” – Bilal Umer

Episode 2

Saag is a Soghaat (famous dish) of Punjab, especially in villages.It is commonly known as ‘Sarsoon Da Saag’ (Punjabi word), it is eaten with ‘Makki Di Roti’ (Punjabi word). Makki Di Roti is made of corn flour and is yellow in color.Now saag is also famous in the Western world. Saag is normally served hot and topped with ghee (clarified butter).You can purchase Saag in Tin Packs from different utility stores/shops.

Different Variety of Saag Dishes:

  • Saag Paneer is a dish that contains Paneer (cheese) and spinach.
  • Saag Gosht is a version of the dish prepared with Gosht (meat), often lamb in the Western world. The meat is usually cooked in a Tandoor (Oven) before being marinated in the other ingredients.
  • Sag Aloo, is fried Aloo (potatoes) dipped in spinach curry; Saag Aloo is commonly served with naan, chapati, and makki di roti. Saag aalu can be made with both spinach and mustard, although spinach is more common.

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Fig.  Saag

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Fig. Hafiz Ka Sohan Halwa – Soghat (Famous Product) of Multan

  • ·    Gourmet – Soghat (Famous Name) of Lahore

 

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Fig. Gur – Soghat (Famous Sweet) of Rural Areas of Punjab

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Fig. Lassi – Soghat (Famous Drink) of Punjab and Sindh

  • ·    Savor Foods – Soghat (Famous Food) in Islamabad / Rawalpindi

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Fig. Makhadi Halwa – Soghat of Mianwali and Talagang

 

Food Street

The success of Food Street in Gawalmandi, established in 2000, has been beyond its organisers’ imaginations, and has led to other Food Streets being set up.

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Pakistani Food can be sub-divided in two distinct styles: Mughal-style Pakistani curries and Punjabi Barbecue and Karahis. In the curry category, the best choice is available at Village, Bellpepper, Kabana, Paradise, Ziafat etc., where you can get reasonably good quality Curries, Biryanis, Nans etc.
The Lahorites, love to eat BBQ food, available at hundreds of outlets all over town. The real secret of BBQ food is to consume it straight from the BBQ pit. A Seekh Kabab is tastier eaten immediately from the pit. At that moment, its minced meat is warm and the fat is melted, and thus most tasty. So every Seekh Kabab is good if you do not let it go cold. Chicken Tikka needs a little care. It should be ordered as golden brown or burnt black. I prefer golden brown, before most of its surface turns black, while it still has juices in it. Once the Tikka is over cooked, you not only consume some carbon, but also the meat’s juices are lost.
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Chicken Karahi
Chicken Karahi is best if made fresh according to your taste. So select a shop where you find it is made to your taste. I prefer Zakir in Cantonment and Mian Hotel on Canal Bank, because both use lots of green masala and tomatoes, giving a very fresh taste. I prefer a Karahi with some gravy, though some prefer it dry. Bhatti and Butt both of Lakhshami Chowk, Grill at Liberty, Punjab Tikka House in Main Gulberg serve delicious Chicken Karahis at reasonable rates.

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Taka Tak
I go to Nishat Taka Tak at Lakhshami Chowk for Taka Tak, a Gurda-Chop concoction, because they make it fresh in your presence and use the right amount of green masala and garlic-ginger paste. For an unforgettable experience, ask the shopkeeper to warm your Nan over the dish while cooking.

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Punjabi Specialities
The best place in Lahore for a variety of Punjabi Specialities, is Food Street in Gawalmandi. Within 150 yards, you have a choice of nearly 100 items from 85 outlets. The management has now arranged that you sit anywhere and order from any outlet. The waiters are now uniformed, courtesy a multinational. Food Street presents a colonial look. The low prices make your visit very satisfying.

Specialities

For Nihari, go for Haji inside Lohari and Waris in Paisa Akhbar and on Mozang Chungi. For Haleem, shops on Lakshami Chowk, Abbot Road, near Mubarak Cinema, and outside old Nigar Cinema and Baghdadi in Shadman Market. Go-Go near Sherpao Bridge and Ashraf Tikka Shop in Main Market Gulberg for Mutton Chops. For Punjabi Style Fish, Sardar of Gawalmandi continues to be ‘King.’ Other leading Lahore fish outlets, include those at Ichra and Mozang Chungi. For Murgh Chholey, go for Sultan and Shahi of Lakhshami Chowk. I also enjoy Anda Kofte Chholey from Nila Gumbad and Chikar Chholey outside Masjide Shohada and near the Cantonment School.

Bakery
Besides some of the restaurants as mentioned above, Lahorites also enjoy cooked items from dozens of bakeries of Lahore. Rahat Bakery offers the biggest choice of ready-to-eat items, as do Gourmet, Kitchen Cuisine, International Bakery, etc.

Mithai
Lahorites eat a lot of Mithai. Nirala seems to be more popular than Shirin Mahal these days. But Fazal, Rahat and Gourmet outlets also serve good quality Mithai. Prices have come down.

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Fig. Julaybee and muthai


Famous dishes of Kyhber Pukhtunkhwa (Pakistan North -west Province)

These posts are part of a fabulous series on “Foods of Pakistan” from my friend Bilal Ulmer. Thank you for sharing your culture with us!

I wrote about Pakistani places in my last episode in February 2012. Food focuses the culture and weather of the region. Here I decided to write about the rich food of Pakistan in different cities. This is also a gift for Emma Lovelly to enjoy untouched Pakistani food. 

Episode 1

 Palaw is a made by cooking basmati or long grained rice in a brothy sauce (which makes the rice brown). This dish may be made with lamb, chicken, or beef. Qabili palau is baked in the oven and topped with fried sliced carrots and raisins. Chopped nuts like pistachios or almonds may be added as well. The meat is covered by the rice or buried in the middle of the dish. It is famous in Peshawar and throughout Kyhber Pukhtunkhwa.

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Mardan Perras / Badayooni Perras

Every city has its own specialty of sweets. Mardan is famous for a type of sweet called, Badayooni Perras. This is a unique type of sweet made of a special recipe. And this recipe is a secret to everyone.

It has got a unique flavour. No one in the country can make such a tasty sweet. According to the owner a lot of people could make similar sweet but they can not produce the taste of Badayooni Perras.
The price of Badayooni is affordable to every one. The current price is 110 Rupees per 1Kg or £1.00 per Kg. This is one of the souvenirs of Mardan. The people all around the world like the perras and appreciate the taste.
The people of Mardan are happy to have such a good souvenir of their city. In Mardan there are so many shops selling Badayooni Perras but one shop is more popular than all others. They claim to be the best and the taste has not changed since 1950.
So if you have friends from Mardan who are visiting you abroad, do not forget to ask them to bring you Mardan Badayooni Perras. And tell them to go to the shop early as the stock finishes within hours of its production.
Mardan Chapli Kabab

Pushtuns are famous for their hospitality. A variety of food is available to please the guests. Every region has some special food or meal to offer. Kabab is one of these food items which can be found in every small village of Pukhtunkhwa.

It is made of mince, onions, tomatoes, chillies, maze flour, coriander and a few other spices. Mardan is one of the places where you can get the best Kababs. People from other regions come over here to enjoy eating Kababs. The famous names of Kabab Hotels are Thooth Karhay, Omar Kababi, Shah Gul Kababi,Kanrha Kababi Par Hoti, Abdul Haq Mayar,T akhtbai Kabab,S hahbaz Garha, Lala, Baba and Kaka Kababs, Shankar Kababi and many others.

Kabab is now a days a favourite item of the party dishes. It was originally flat oval shaped but now a different kind of Kabab called seekh Kabab is also available. Kabab is more consumed in winter as it keeps the body warm and is considered good for flue. In some Kababs eggs and Bone marrow is also added. It will cost you 120 rupees per kg (2 dollars) but you will never forget the taste. And especially if you have a day out climbing up Takhtbai or Shahbaz Garha mountains to see the Gandhara History in Mardan.

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Waziristan dryfood

The staple food of the tribesman is wheat or maize bread. Milk is consumed in its various forms. Roasted meat larmin is relished. The people of Waziristan generally like a fried goat dish called palawoo, served in hilly areas.

Dry food of this region is famous all over world.

 

 

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Khewra Mines : Second Largest Salt Mine in the World

Khewra Salt Mine located in Khewra, Jehlum Punjab, Pakistan is the second largest Salt Mine in the world and is considered to be the oldest in the subcontinent. It was said that discovery of Salt mines were not done by Alexander or his army but by their horses as they started licking the stones when they stopped here for rest. Thousand of visitors each year visit Khewra Salt mines and get fascinated by the nature’s miracle in the heart of mountains.

 

Khewra Salt Mine: Second Largest Salt Mine in the World

 

By

Muhammad Bilal Umer.

Civil Engineer

University of Technology Sydney Australia.

+61425711119 (Aus)

+923334904604 (Pak)

Bilalumer_1@yahoo.com


Haleji Lake : Asia’s largest Bird Sanctuary


Pakistan is a land of serene beauty , a country with diverse wild life , fresh water lakes, a 1046 km coast lines. Some of the most unique species of birds are found in northern Pakistan with awe-inspiring natural wonders like Lake Saiful Maluk, Lake Shandur , Dudipatsar Lake , kutwal lake, Zalzal lake and many more. But Haleji has it’s own significance as it is Asia ’s largest waterfowl reserve. During winter thousands of birds of different species fly down to Haleji from Siberian colder areas

Pakistan: The heavenly Shandur Lake
By

Muhammad Bilal Umer.

Civil Engineer

University of Technology Sydney Australia.

+61425711119 (Aus)

+923334904604 (Pak)

Bilalumer_1@yahoo.com


World’s Largest Deep Sea Port : Gwader

“Gwa” means Air and “Dar” means door, and the word Gawadar means ” The door of the wind” is the world’s largest deep sea port lies in southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan. The design and construction of the port is carried out in collaboration with China and it has just started it’s operation.It’s going to emerge as a world’s biggest skyline due to it’s capacity and infrastructure of handling bulk carriers. It has been declared as a Duty Free Port and Free Economic Zone by the Pakistani government that has increased the commercial worth manifolds. It has an immense geostrategic importance as it is the entrance to the Persian Gulf and is considered to be a substitute of Dubai Port.

Gawader: World’s Largest Deep Sea Port

 

By

Muhammad Bilal Umer.

Civil Engineer

University of Technology Sydney Australia.

+61425711119 (Aus)

+923334904604 (Pak)

Bilalumer_1@yahoo.com


Karakoram Highway : Eighth Wonder of the World


Karakoram Highway runs through the northern areas connecting Pakistan with China’s Xingjiang province is often described as ” Eighth Wonder of the World” due to the marvel of civil engineering as it has taken 15 years to complete by the Pakistan Army Engineers in collaboration with China. It’s been labeled as ” World’s highest paved international Road” under world’s toughest terrain.

Pakistan: Karakoram Highway World’s highest paved international Road

 

By

Muhammad Bilal Umer.

Civil Engineer

University of Technology Sydney Australia.

+61425711119 (Aus)

+923334904604 (Pak)

Bilalumer_1@yahoo.com


Kalash valley people – Pakistan

Hunza is said to be a place ” Where Time Stops and Fairy Treads“, Kalash and Chitral are the natural wonders of the world where poetic verses find their inspirations from the beauty and elegance of high peak mountains, lush green fields and the fragrant breeze singing across the poplar trees. Some of the places which are not highlighted by the media but still due to their magnitude find their places on the World record books are ; Asia’s Highest Railway Station Kan Mehtarzai that is located 2240 meters above sea level near Quetta.

 


Pakistan: K2 the 2nd highest mountain peak in the World

Pakistan meaning the “The land of pure” where each day the sun rises with a new hope, with an enduring majesty as the rays of light flushing down towards the snowcapped peaks of Himalaya’s and Nanga Parbat . A land where love finds a meaning in the heart warming hospitability of people, a land where history and ancient civilization mystifies one’s heart, a land where spiritualism unveils its mystery at the shrines of Sufi Saints. This is the land I belong to, this is the land I’ll die for and this is the land that defines my identity. 

Pakistan : The Roof Top of the World


 

 

Pakistan the land of grand mountain ranges, a land that holds 4 out of 14 most highest peaks in the world. K2 the second highest mountain in the world with all it’s grandeur symbolizing the pride and strength of the people of Pakistan .

By

Muhammad Bilal Umer.

Civil Engineer

University of Technology Sydney Australia.

+61425711119 (Aus)

+923334904604 (Pak)

Bilalumer_1@yahoo.com


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