Pakistan is a country with vast cultures spread across a palette of four provinces with four main languages and several sub-territorial languages, comes with it several mix-races from semi-Persians to a mix of Pukhtoons, Sindhis, Siraikis, Punjabis, Balochs, Kashmiris and several more. But at its simplest, Pakistani food today consists of staple ingredients which are cheap and abundant. Wheat and other flour products is the mainstay of the diet. Pakistan being a rich agricultural state, it has all that one needs.
From the most primitive times, the inventive – and occasionally heavy – use of herbs, spices, seeds, and flavorings and seasonings have assisted cooks innovate rather everyday basic Pakistani foods into an exotic, more contemporary, cuisine. Some of the everyday used spices in Pakistani food, and also throughout the Indo-Pak region widely are – chili powder, turmeric, garlic, paprika, black pepper, red pepper, cumin seed, bay leaf, coriander, cardamom, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, mace, nutmeg, poppy seeds, aniseed, almonds, pistachios, etc.
Like Pakistan a multi-nation with an array of languages, casts and religions (minority), the food also is a fusion of tastes and cookeries from three eminent regions – Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia. In Middle East, Iran plays an important role owing to its close historical and cultural links with Pakistan. Pakistani cuisine is usually known for its richness in spices and flavour, though dwindles between mild to very spicy, depending on the nature of the dish being prepared.
Within Pakistan, the cuisines vary from region to region. Punjab is often remembered for its grand feasty dishes, nihari, paaye, lassis and murgh chanas, Baluchistan for below the earth cooked Sajji, KPK for its Kabuli pulao and namkeen boti and Sindh for its various kinds of biryanis and fishes from the Indus River.
Shaneira, Wasim Akram’s wife on a recent trip to Pakistan, post-marriage, loved the country and fell in love with its culture and food. Pakistani food and cookery in Pakistan has always had a regional character attached to the way it is cooked, the spices that are used and the technique which is used for cooking. In Punjab, a common feature for cooking is tandoor or handi, while in Baluchistan people prefer the method of barbecuing whole lambs in a deep pit while in Sindh cooking in mud molded handis is the norm. The varieties are endless and so are the options to eat out or dine-in.
In recent times, international cuisines and fast food chains have invaded all the big cities of Pakistan. There have been instances when foreign brands have blended their local recipes with Pakistani spices and tweaked them for the Pakistanis taste buds. Furthermore, as a result of busy lifestyle and heavy marketing readymade spices and ready-to-cook food has become popular. However, given the cultural diversity and variety of people living in Pakistans, cuisines generally differ from home to home and may totally differ from the mainstream Pakistani cuisines.