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Pakistani Cuisine and Recipes

Pakistani Recipes, Food and Cooking

Cooking by Country - September 2002


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Although Pakistan is a relatively new 'country', the Indus River region where it's situate, is referred to as a cradle of civilization with archaeologists having found fossils of Homo sapiens in the area which date back 50,000 years. Located in South West Asia and having borders with Afghanistan and Iran to the west, India to the East and China to the north, Pakistan straddles the natural trade route between central Asia and the Indian subcontinent which is perfectly positioned for numerous invasions.


Ancient times, History and influences on Pakistani cooking

The region now known as Pakistan was invaded and re-invaded over the years, starting with the Aryans from Central Asia around 1,700 BC, who displaced the Indus Civilization and brought Hinduism to the region, to the Persians in the 6th Century BC, Alexander the Great and the Sassanians.


It became part of the Mogul Empire in 1526, bringing Muslim rule and influences, and. During this period various styles of cooking evolved and remain to this day including Moghlai', tandoori, and murgh musallum'. It fell to British rule in the 1800's and 1947 saw the realisation of independent states (east and west Pakistan) with present day Pakistan emerging in 1956.


Much of its cuisine has been 'Indianised' throughout the 5,000-year history of the India-Pakistan subcontinent. The cuisine in the regions of Punjab, Sindh and Muhaj are clear examples of this, however Pakistani Pashtuns and Baluchese have retained their roots in Afghan-Iranian cooking.

Current day Pakistani Cuisine

Largely due to religious prohibitions - no pork for Muslims and no beef for Hindus - lamb and mutton were and are the most common meats used. Wheat and rice are the main staple of the Pakistani diet as is Roti, naan and Paratha which are all kinds of flat-breads. Most kitchens will have a rimless iron pan that is used to cook Roti and paratha.


Seasonal vegetables and lentils are also commonly used. Families with larger incomes eat more meat eggs, and fruits. And the more affluent cook with ghee, which is clarified butter, instead of with vegetable oil. The imaginative, and sometimes extreme use of spices, herbs and seasonings has transformed the otherwise plain staple foods into exotic concoctions. Chili powder, turmeric, garlic, paprika, cumin seed, bay leaf, coriander, cardamom, cloves, ginger and saffron are amongst the many herbs and spices widely used.



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