This week I shared street style sweet potato/shakarkandi so I wanted to expand on street food culture. My parents are from Lahore and lucky enough to have grown up eating these delicious foods as the city is well known for its food scene. My dad knew an old man originally from India who told stories of how people would come from all over just to enjoy the foods of Lahore!
Pakistani Street Food
Pakistani street food is incredibly varied. To start, you can find quick snacks like chaat, kebabs, bhutta, samosas and gol guppay. There are plenty of delicious drinks to try like lassi, chai and freshly pressed fruit juices. You can be fed on entire meals like karahi, pilau, biryani, channay, sajji, haleem, nihari, all served with delicious breads like fresh naan, chapati and puris. And to finish there is kulfi, falooda and gola! Those who live in the inner cities are known not to cook at home and instead get their food from the local street vendors.
Influences and specialties
Just like how Pakistan is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, with influences from India, the Middle East and Europe, the street food scene is no different! You’ll be able to find foods like masala fries, french toast and shawarma too. Each area of Pakistan has its own specialty too, for example Karachi is known for its seafood like prawn curry and crab cutlets, and Peshawar has many Afghan foods like Kabuli pilau on the menu.
Origins of Pakistani street food
Many street food vendors have been doing this for generations and it’s hard to say when it all started. The foods themselves can be traced back in history with descriptions of dahi vada in ancient sanskrit texts, consuming chaat (fried and spicy snacks) came about during the reign of Shah Jahan to countermeasure the alkaline water of the Yamuna river, and many beloved foods like kebabs and kormas came from the royal cooks who took their mastery to the streets once the British overruled the Mughal empire.
No matter where you go in the world street food is what brings people together with quick, delicious, cheap, authentic, local eats that celebrate the local culture! What’s your favorite street food?
Check out my recipe for street style sweet potato/shakarkandi.