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.
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.
Appetizers & Snacks
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!
Traditional Pakistani Dishes, Including Instant Pot Pakistani Chicken Curry
- Instant Pot
- Food Processor (Optional)
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped to fit in food processor
- 1 medium or 2 small tomatoes (140-160 g) roughly chopped to fit in food processor
- ¼ cup
neutral oilsuch as avocado or grapeseed
- 1 lb bone-in, cut up, skinless chicken (See notes for boneless) cleaned and excess skin removed
- 3-4 cloves garlic crushed
- 1/3 inch ginger crushed
- 1 small green chili pepper stem removed and thinly sliced
- 1 ¼ tsp salt or to taste
- 2 small russet potatoes (320 g) peeled and cut into large chunks
- ¼ tsp whole coriander seeds optional
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 5-6 whole black peppercorns
- 3 whole cloves
- ½ tsp mild red chili powder or to taste
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp cumin powder
- ¼ tsp coriander powder
- 2 tbsp cilantro leaves chopped
- ¼ tsp garam masala
- 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.