Famous Pakistani Foods to Try at Least Once in Your Life
October 22 , 2023

Famous Pakistani Foods to Try at Least Once in Your Life

When it comes to culinary diversity and deliciousness, few countries can rival Pakistan. From the bustling streets of Karachi to the heart of Lahore, the nation's food scene is a true culinary adventure. You might have heard of some of these Pakistani foods before but here we share the details so you can’t stop yourself but crave some of these delicacies right away.

Join us as we delve even deeper into the rich tapestry of Pakistani cuisine and discover an extensive array of famous dishes loved by locals.

Karachi's street food

Our journey begins in Karachi, where the food scene is as lively and vibrant as the city itself. Karachi food is synonymous with Bun Kebabs - spicy beef or chicken and lentil patties tucked into soft buns and garnished with chutney (sauce), onions, and a sprinkle of chaat masala (a local spice used in many foods). The crispy Chaat, a medley of chickpeas, potatoes, and tangy tamarind sauce, is another must-try. The vibrant food streets are an experience in themselves, where the aroma of sizzling kebabs and the sizzle of crispy samosas fill the air. When in Karachi, don’t forget to visit Burns Road. That’s the place where all the street food magic lies.

Biryani - Pakistan's heart and soul

No culinary exploration of Pakistan is complete without indulging in Biryani, the nation's heart and soul. It would be safe enough to call it Pakistan's national food as it is loved by all the locals alike. Biryani is a fragrant rice dish that unites with tender meat, aromatic spices, and saffron-infused rice. While regional variations abound, Karachi's Biryani is famous for its spicy and aromatic flavors, making biryani the most loved Karachi food. Visit local eateries to savor this iconic dish, and you'll understand why Pakistanis are so passionate about it.

Traditional delicacies across Pakistan

As we venture further into the culinary heart of Pakistan, we uncover the treasures of Pakistani traditional food. In Lahore, Lahori Charga takes center stage. This deep-fried chicken dish boasts a crispy exterior and tender interior, perfectly complemented by naan and spicy chutney. Peshawar, on the other hand, is renowned for its smoky and succulent kebabs (chapli kebabs and seekh kebabs), cooked over open flames, especially the barbeque coal grill. The flavors here are bold, and the aromas are mesmerizing. You will fall in love with the juicy kebabs for sure!


Nihari, often hailed as the breakfast of champions, is a hearty and aromatic stew that has a special place in the hearts of Pakistanis, especially in Lahore. The word "Nihari" itself is derived from the Arabic word "Nahar," which means "morning,". It's traditionally consumed as a breakfast meal and ranks quite high amongst Pakistani foods.

Prepared with slow-cooked meat, Nihari is a symphony of flavors, simmered by a mixture of beef shank and bone marrow with an array of spices and herbs for hours. This slow-cooking process extracts all the richness from the meat, resulting in tender, fall-off-the-bone pieces immersed in a luscious, flavorful gravy.

One of the best parts about savoring Nihari in Lahore is the elaborate garnish. It's traditionally served with finely chopped green chilies, ginger, fresh coriander, and lemon wedges, allowing you to tailor its spiciness and tanginess to your liking. Nihari pairs perfectly with warm, fluffy naan or sheermaal, a sweet saffron-flavored bread, creating a culinary experience that awakens your senses. Did your mouth water yet?

Paya or Paye

A beloved dish across the Indian subcontinent and especially cherished in Pakistan, Paya is a hearty and flavorful stew made from simmering trotters, typically of goat or cow. This dish embodies a slow-cooked, rustic elegance and is celebrated for its robust flavors.

To prepare Paye, the trotters are meticulously cleaned and then slow-cooked for hours, often overnight. This lengthy cooking process allows the meat to tenderize and release its rich flavors into the simmering broth. The result is a thick and flavorful stew characterized by a delightful gelatinous texture that simply melts in your mouth. You will feel your lips sticking onto one another due to the gelatinous texture.

Traditionally, Paya is enjoyed as a breakfast dish, especially during special occasions like Eid or festive gatherings. You can call it Pakistan's national food but in the breakfast category. It's best served hot, garnished with chopped cilantro, green chilies, and a squeeze of lemon. The dish is often paired with oven-fresh naan, which perfectly complements the stew's rich and hearty nature.

The sweet side of Pakistan

Pakistani desserts are a celebration of the nation's rich heritage. Firni, a creamy rice pudding, tantalizes your taste buds with its cardamom-infused sweetness. Gajar ka Halwa, a mouthwatering carrot dessert, and the beloved Jalebi, a sweet, sugar syrup-soaked delight, offer a delightful conclusion to any meal. The streets of Pakistan are dotted with sweet shops and vendors selling these delectable treats. You will love trying gulab jamun and laddus which are the perfect combo of sweetness and flavor packed in small balls of flour, milk, and sugar.

Oh, and how can we forget Kulfi, which is a famous local ice cream infused with nuts, milk solids, and rose syrup essence? Following Kulfi, we also have Falooda which is a traditional Pakistani dessert made from dense and creamy kulfi ice cream, served with vermicelli, rose syrup, and nuts. You’re sure gonna love these unique sweet dishes to satisfy your cravings just right!

Exploring Pakistani food beyond bounds

To truly appreciate the flavors and traditions of Pakistani cuisine, delve into local food markets and street vendors. Hidden gems await, serving authentic and mouthwatering dishes. Engage with locals who are eager to guide you to the best places to enjoy these culinary treasures. Whether you're in the lively streets of Lahore or the picturesque bazaars of Peshawar, the warmth of the people is as comforting as the food. The Karachi food offers yet another array of flavors that you can’t help but obsess over.

Golgappa/Pani Puri

Golgappa, known as Pani Puri in some regions, is a street food in Pakistan that embodies the perfect balance of flavors and textures. These tiny, crispy balls of joy are often enjoyed as a quick snack or a favorite evening pastime. The joy of eating Golgappa starts with the delightful crack as you bite into the hollow shell, followed by an explosion of flavors as the spicy tamarind and mint water mingle with the filling of mashed potatoes, chickpeas, and a blend of spices. The experience is both exhilarating and satisfying, leaving you craving more.


Saaji is a gem that hails from Balochistan and is revered for its unique preparation. This dish involves roasting a whole chicken, goat or lamb, marinated with a special blend of local spices. What sets Saaji apart is the method of cooking; the marinated meat is placed in an underground pit, where it slowly roasts over a wood fire. The result is tender, smoky, and intensely flavorful meat that's a true delight for meat lovers.

Paratha Roll

The Paratha Roll, popular in Karachi and other cities, combines the best of both worlds: the convenience of a wrap and the hearty flavors of a traditional paratha. This street food favorite features a warm and flaky paratha filled with various options like spicy beef, succulent chicken, or seekh kebab, along with fresh vegetables and various forms of chatni. The result is a portable delight that balances the richness of the filling with the crispiness of the paratha. It's a quick and satisfying option that's perfect for a meal on the go or as a late-night snack. The Paratha Roll captures the essence of Pakistani foods – delicious, diverse, and full of flavour.

Gola ganda - Pakistan’s very own ice lollies

To cool off during the scorching Pakistani summers, locals flock to Gola Ganda vendors. Gola Ganda, also known as shaved ice is an essential part of Pakistan's street food scene and a cherished way to beat the heat.

Not necessarily a dessert, Gola Ganda is delightfully simple, yet its flavors are boundless. Vendors skillfully shave blocks of ice into fine, snow-like crystals, creating the perfect canvas for a symphony of sweet and tangy syrups. The real magic happens when the syrup is poured over the ice, transforming it into a rainbow of flavors.

Gola Ganda vendors often add a final squeeze of lemon or a sprinkle of chaat masala for that extra kick. But this step is totally optional as some people like their Golas purely sweet and typical.


As you immerse yourself in Pakistan's diverse culinary landscape, you'll find that food is not just a necessity; it's a celebration of culture, tradition, and the warm hospitality of the locals. So, pack your bags and embark on a food adventure through Pakistan. The famous Pakistani foods are waiting to create unforgettable memories and leave you craving for more. From the sizzling streets of Karachi to the traditional kitchens of Lahore and Peshawar, every bite is a journey into the heart of Pakistan.