Welcome to a roundup of 25 popular and traditional Pakistani dishes! This list features kebabs, classic main dishes, desserts, and drinks along with their recipes.
So what is Pakistani food anyway?
Now here’s an elusive question that I’ve given endless thought to in my years of blogging.
Pakistan was established just 73 years ago, but the food in that particular region has been around much longer. So when we refer to Pakistani food, we are referring to the food of that particular region.
When describing Pakistani cuisine, it’s almost natural to compare it to Indian cuisine. But Pakistani cuisine itself is as complex and varied.
For example, Lahore, Pakistan and Amritsar, India have a 31 mile distance, so you can imagine how similar the cuisine would be. Similarly, there are undeniable influences of Afghani cuisine in parts of Pakistan. My friend Maryam, founder of the award-winning blog Pakistan Eats, writes more extensively on Pakistani cuisine, and you can find many of her insightful pieces here.
What is the famous food of Pakistan?
Pakistan is famous for its Moghul-inspired cuisine: pulaos, biryanis, kababs, and kormas. In contrast with India, Pakistan is known for its heavier use of meat, particularly beef.
I’d like to point out that this blog doesn’t highlight some of the lesser-known, yet equally traditional dishes across Pakistan. For example, my sister-in-law is Pashtun (Pakhtun) and once prepared a delightful, gently spiced Namak Gosht (salted meat). Those types of dishes aren’t mainstream, but nonetheless are an important part of Pakistani cuisine.
25+ Traditional Pakistani Dishes
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a compilation of popular Pakistani recipes that I have on my blog. From my growing collection of Pakistani recipes, I have narrowed it down to just 25 recipes that I felt were representative of Pakistani cuisine.
Kababs & Snacks
Easy Shami Kebab (Instant Pot and Stovetop)
4.93 (27 ratings)
Shami kebabs are tender patties made with beef and (yellow split peas) along with onion, herbs and spices. This recipe includes Instant Pot and stovetop instructions! Naturally gluten-free!
A simple, uncomplicated Seekh Kebab recipe made with ingredients you likely have on hand. This recipe includes tips on how to make flavorful, tender kebabs that don't break or fall off the skewers. Includes pan-frying, baking, and air-frying instructions.
Maash ki Dal, or sukhi (dry) split urad dal, may not be mainstream, but it's beloved by all who've tried it. This recipe makes it in the traditional Pakistani and Punjabi way – dry, as in firm, but cooked through – and adorned with delicate slivers of ginger and warming green chili peppers.
This is a classic Punjabi-style Kadhi Pakora recipe with Instant Pot and Stovetop instructions. This recipe uses accessible ingredients and has a shortened cook time but remains true to the flavors of traditional Pakistani and North Indian Kadhi. The recipe as-is makes a large batch (8-10 servings), or enough for a crowd. Adjust servings to 4 to halve the recipe.
Baingan Bharta is a prized Indian and Pakistani (Punjabi) dish. It consists of roasted eggplant in a delicately spiced dry curry. This recipe includes instructions on how to broil it in the oven, plus some essential tips on how to get it to taste amazing!
Pakistani Zucchini (Courgette) Curry | Toriyan (Torai ki Sabzi)
4.98 (95 ratings)
This is an easy, flavorful, fan-favorite Indian and Pakistani Zucchini (Courgette) Curry called Toriyan or torai ki sabzi in Urdu. This is a tasty vegan curry that'll transform everyday Zucchini into something even kids will love!
Instant Pot Pakistani Chana Pulao (Chickpea Pilaf) – 20-minute prep!
4.96 (44 ratings)
This Instant Pot Pakistani Chana Pulao is easy, flavorful, and it takes less than 20 minutes of total prep time! Perfect for a weeknight dinner yet elegant enough for guests. Naturally gluten-free and vegetarian!
This easy Instant Pot Goat and Bell Pepper curry is a Pakistani-style mutton recipe that requires little prep time and minimal ingredients you probably have on hand! It’s perfectly spiced, a little tart, and full of flavor.
Here's a recipe for an authentic, homestyle, Pakistani & North Indian style Aloo Keema (Keema Curry with potatoes). This is a traditional, one-pot recipe that's simple, easy-to make, and gives the most flavorful results!
This Instant Pot Pakistani Beef Curry, or stew, is an easy recipe in which boneless beef stew meat is cooked alongside yogurt and whole spices. Also called Istu, or Ishto, this is a deeply flavorful yet healthy, dump-and-go Instant Pot beef recipe.
Beef Kofta Curry, or simply kofte, is a traditional Pakistani curry made of tender meatballs simmered in a spicy, flavorful sauce. This recipe has all the authentic flavor of old-fashioned kofte but it’s made in an easier, more approachable way.
An Authentic Chicken Curry (or Chicken Salan) recipe made in the traditional Pakistani and North Indian style. This is a simple, one-pot curry recipe that you can make in under an hour. This recipe includes instructions for using bone-in or boneless chicken.
Chicken Shashlik (Saucy with Gravy) – Indo-Chinese Recipe
5 (14 ratings)
Chicken Shashlik is an Indo-Chinese recipe that's made with boneless chicken, bell peppers, and onion. Similar to Chicken Manchurian, this dish is coated in a sweet and spicy gravy that's bursting with flavor. This is an easy, kid-friendly weeknight dinner that can be made quickly and easily with pantry staples.
This Instant Pot Kheer (Pakistani & Indian Rice Pudding) recipe has the classic flavor of old-fashioned kheer without the fuss. This is a restaurant-inspired recipe that's been rigorously tested and perfected until I can confidently call it the BEST Instant Pot kheer.
This quick and easy Seviyan (Sheer Khurma) recipe takes around 20 minutes make from start to finish. It's a creamy, flavorful, tested-and-perfected vermicelli pudding recipe that couldn’t be easier or more delicious. Perfect on its own or with extras like dates and nuts.
This authentic Instant Pot Carrot Halwa recipe is made in the traditional Pakistani & Indian style but without hours of active time over the stove. So comforting, naturally gluten-free, and only requires 6 ingredients!
This easy, one-pot Kashmiri Chai recipe takes less than 20 minutes to make! This is not a traditional Noon Chai recipe, but an accessible version that's still delicious (and pink)! Make it with regular green tea leaves if you can't find Kashmiri tea leaves.
This Mango Lassi recipe makes better-than-restaurant lassi with six easy-to-find ingredients. The base of the recipe is strong while allowing you to adjust to taste according to your mangoes. Tested to perfection!
This is the best plain sweet lassi recipe I’ve ever had and it comes from my brother-in-law’s kitchen. His secret? He uses a small amount of whipping cream to create a lassi drink that’s perfectly sweet, extra creamy, and instantly refreshing.
The typical Pakistani or Indian family drinks chai very different from the chai latte you get at your local coffee shop. This is an authentic cup of chai you will find brewing in the typical Pakistani kitchen.
If you get a chance to try any of these recipes, I’d love to hear from you! If you have a moment, please leave a review telling me how it was. You can also share your creations on Instagram. Thank you!
5 (3 ratings)
25+ Traditional Pakistani Dishes, Including Instant Pot Pakistani Chicken Curry
Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 12mins
Total Time: 50mins
This Pakistani-style Instant Pot Chicken Curry includes bone-in chicken and potatoes and requires just 30 minutes of *total* prep time! Plus, check out 24 other Traditional Pakistani dishes in this roundup!
Place the onion in a food processor and use the pulse function to chop it finely. Remove and set aside. In the same food processor, add the tomatoes and chop into a rough purée.
Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Once hot, add the oil and onions and sauté until the onions turn lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until the raw smell disappears, about 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with 2 tbsp of water. Add the chicken and fry it until it changes color, about 5 minutes, deglazing the pan if it starts to stick to the bottom. Add the whole spices, ground spices, salt, green chili pepper, and tomato. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, then add the potatoes along with 1 cup of water*. Mix well.
Cancel Sauté to turn off the Instant Pot. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook setting and cook at high pressure for 12 minutes*. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure.
Once safe to do so, open the lid and taste and adjust salt. Garnish with garam masala and cilantro. Stir gently as the potatoes will be very tender. Serve with rice, roti, or naan.
*If using boneless chicken, add 3/4 cup water and pressure cook for 6 minutes.