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Pakistani food and pakistani snacks

Oh, Snack!

All you need to know about the street snacks of Pakistan

Street food is irrevocably the only way to truly feel connected to the spirit of a city or country. A country’s cuisine may be an excellent depiction of its overall culture, but street food, in particular, reflects the very nitty-gritty of it all – be it the teekhay (translation: spicy) chaats of Lahore Walled City, or the soul-warming bone broths of Haripur, it embodies our values and beliefs like no other!

The national love language of Pakistan is food. Be it taking out your ex-pat cousins to the dirty slums of Pindi or treating your mad soulmate to the heartily-creamy soft serve ice cream of Kaybees – the true essence of hospitality lies in these very humble acts of our people, which truly makes us stand out from the rest of the countries of South Asia. And if you are a foreign traveller, you will NEVER be able to pay for your food at all! This is also testified by famous food bloggers like Mark Wiens and Trevor James in their videos.

Talking about the snacks – prepare your tastebuds to be tantalized to their limit by the uncountable textures, flavours and whiffs of Pakistani street food. And it’s extremely likely that you find the most elite food only from the grimiest-looking shops and the busiest streets; something about their setting adds up to the whole mood of it!

Some Popular Street Food from Pakistani Cuisine 

pani puri - famous pakistani food

Sometimes, spilling pani puri’s pani  (as seen on the image on the left) on your favourite tee doesn’t even ruin your mood just because you’re so buzzed with fitting a whole gol gappa in your mouth, or if you’re trying to beat your friends by eating the most amount of gol gappay! They are flaky puffballs filled with chickpeas, chaat masala, a tangy chutney/yogurt, sometimes with onions and potatoes too, served with tamarind water. It’s the perfect 5 p.m getaway snack, and it takes mad skill to fit a whole gol gappa in your mouth!

The popular monsoon weather of the subcontinental area makes every Pakistani whip out their frying pans out of their ovens (another Pakistani cliché) and make a delectable teatime table spread of a gazillion types of pakoray and samosay. The former is a deep-fried batter of chickpea flour and a variety of spices to give that oomph amid earthy rain. Oftentimes, different vegetables (including but not limited to onions, potatoes, spinach, eggplants, and even hard-boiled eggs!) are dipped in this batter too. And while we’re on the topic, no trip up North is complete without the roadside egg pakoray with a steamy cup of karak chai! Samosay, on the other hand, are deep-fried, pocket-like pastries filled with any protein mince or smushed vegetables. Both are best served hot with mint and tamarind chutney.

No Samosay-pakoray-esque tea party goes without jalebi, though! Another deep-fried delicacy, jalebi has had people write songs about it, wait in lines for getting the fresh-out-of-sugar-syrup batch, and fight over the last piece. This fried pastry doused in sugar syrup is best enjoyed hot, and the leftover pieces are often utilized by brown moms to make piping-hot doodh jalebi, which is a popular winter snack.

jalebi

Pakistanis also happen to take their beverages very seriously! There is a huge variety but 2 beverages that also stand out as popular street food are lemon soda and rabri doodh. While lemon soda is a virgin margarita of sorts with lemon juice, sugar syrup and carbonated water, rabri doodh is reduced milk jam-packed with the goodness of khoya lumps (khoya is milk reduced to solid lumps) and sugar. Both of these are served chilled on carts by local vendors and is loved by the masses.

samosa - Pakistani cuisineThe All-time Favourite Pakistani dishes

An honorary mention of street snacks goes to chaat and dahi baray/bhallay. While both are the literal kings of street food, they’re also extremely nourishing and are loaded with essential nutrients while being light on the calorie count. Chaat is a type of salad with chickpeas as the usual base ingredient, but we also have fruit chaat which is a fruit salad often layered with cream, nuts and sugar syrup. The chickpea (or chana in Urdu) chaat is often sprinkled heartily with chaat masala, which has spicy as well as tangy undertones, along with the chutneys, yogurt, and papri, which is bits and pieces of the samosa pastry deep-fried till crispy. The number of variations that can be done to chaat explains the different ways Pakistanis have a nostalgic sentiment towards it, with each variation reminding them of a certain memory, place, or time.

Some Spicy Savoury Option in Pakistani cuisine

2Our street food is not limited to savoury, or namkeen items, though. Like for most, the best post-dinner dessert is ice cream, Pakistanis obsess over kulfi. This form of ice cream is connected to the rabri lineage, made from khoya-flavoured milk and nuts in the form of a popsicle. This creamy delight can beat the scorching heat in literal seconds, but nothing can stop you from devouring it during the winters either! Lick it down to its stick or let your inner demon loose and bite straight into it, there’s no one right way to indulge it.

Another similar dessert is the gola ganda, which constitutes of ice shavings drenched in a concoction of wild-coloured sugar syrups, nuts, canned fruit and condensed milk. It can be served on a stick as well as a Styrofoam bowl, but the stick form limits the toppings to just the syrups. Either way, the carousel of colours is not only a feast for the eyes but also tastes incredibly delicious!

The last popular street snack that is extremely underrated in Pakistan is corn cob. Like in Mexico, it’s eaten as elote, but in Pakistan, it is served in 2 different manners. One way that is prepared by street vendors is by rubbing a lemon halve dipped in chaat masala all over the boiled cob, and the other one is by roasting the cob in sand and then later coating it with the same masala. The latter usually is stiffer in texture than the former, so it’s more like a jaw workout to eat it, but the former is extremely popular among the masses because it’s relatively easier to chew.

Street snacks of Pakistan are surely ones to try out once in a lifetime and is essentially a form of expressing the locals’ hospitality and humility. While it’s easy to recreate them at home, they also give one a wave of nostalgia connected with the moment in which you had it the first time or with a special group of people, and both the food and the moment are equally cherished.

with cream, nuts and sugar syrup. The chickpea (or chana in Urdu) chaat is often sprinkled heartily with chaat masala, which has spicy as well as tangy undertones, along with the chutneys, yogurt, and papri, which is bits and pieces of the samosa pastry deep-fried till crispy. The number of variations that can be done to chaat explains the different ways Pakistanis have a nostalgic sentiment towards it, with each variation reminding them of a certain memory, place, or time.

kulfiOur street food is not limited to savoury, or namkeen items, though. Like for most, the best post-dinner dessert is ice cream, Pakistanis obsess over kulfi. This form of ice cream is connected to the rabri lineage, made from khoya-flavored milk and nuts in the form of a popsicle. This creamy delight can beat the scorching heat in literal seconds, but nothing can stop you from devouring it during the winters either! Lick it down to its stick or let your inner demon loose and bite straight into it, there’s no one right way to indulge it.

Another similar dessert is the gola ganda, which constitutes of ice shavings drenched in a concoction of wild-coloured sugar syrups, nuts, canned fruit and condensed milk. It can be served on a stick as well as a Styrofoam bowl, but the stick form limits the toppings to just the syrups. Either way, the carousel of colours is not only a feast for the eyes but also tastes incredibly delicious!

5The last popular street snack that is extremely underrated in Pakistan is corn or chilli. Like in Mexico, it’s eaten as elote, but in Pakistan, it is served in 2 different manners. One way that is prepared by street vendors is by rubbing a lemon halve dipped in chaat masala all over the boiled cob, and the other one is by roasting the cob in the sand and then later coating it with the same masala. The latter usually is stiffer in texture than the former, so it’s more like a jaw workout to eat it, but the former is extremely popular among the masses because it’s relatively easier to chew.

Street snacks of Pakistan are surely ones to try out once in a lifetime and is essentially a form of expressing the locals’ hospitality and humility. While it’s easy to recreate them at home, they also give one a wave of nostalgia connected with the moment in which you had it the first time or with a special group of people, and both the food and the moment are equally cherished.

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