Pakistan is very diverse ethnically and culturally, and its cuisine reflects this diversity. Like in any nation, food generally differs from home to home and can be quite different from the mainstream foods. This said, much of the cuisine is a mix of Indian flavors, especially in the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Sindh. Pakistanis eat a lot more meat than Indians.
Pakistani people are known for their hospitality—and for guests, the host usually goes all out. Among the middle class, the most common form of entertainment is having people over for dinner, especially since restaurants are not ubiquitous, as they are in Western countries.
Often when people come over for dinner, two or three main dishes are cooked and served along with dessert and tea. Have some guests over and try these recipes out! Each recipe is intended to feed 6 to 8 guests.
Chunna Rice (Paloa)
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
2 cups cooked chickpeas (drained, if canned)
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
Spices: 3 cloves, 8 whole black peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1 black cardamom pod
1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced
1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
Oil for sautéing
In 3 tablespoons of oil, on medium heat, sauté onions until dark brown. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add chickpeas and spices, and sauté until everything is mixed and onions are paste-like.
Add 4 1/2 cups of water and bring to boil; then add rice and cook on high until almost dry. When only a small amount of water remains, put a skillet between the pot of rice and the flame if you are using a gas stove, and cook on low, with cover on. Turn off heat when water is absorbed and rice is soft.
Yogurt Chicken (Razala)
1 whole chicken, without skin and cut into pieces
3 medium onions, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
5 whole black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt to taste
1 1/2 inches ginger root, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups of yogurt
2 tablespoons oil
Put all ingredients together in a pot on high heat. When the juices start to evaporate, lower the heat to medium-low and keep cooking until the chicken is tender. Once the chicken is tender, raise heat to high and cook until there is a thick gravy and ingredients are well mixed.
Rice Pudding (Keer)
1 cup semi-cooked rice (can be cooked in microwave until semi-cooked)
1/2 gallon of milk
4 small white cardamom pods, broken into pieces
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons sliced almonds
Bring milk to a boil and add rice and cardamom. Cook on low heat, being mindful not to let milk or rice burn on the bottom of the pot. When ingredients are thickened halfway, add sugar, starting with a cup and then adding more to taste if needed. As pudding starts to thicken, stir continuously so it does not burn. When it is thick and can be scooped up with a spoon, put in large bowl and chill in fridge overnight. Before serving, sprinkle sliced almonds on top for decoration.
Milk Tea (Chai)
8 teabags, black tea
8 cups water
1 cardamom pod
1 cup milk
10 teaspoons sugar
Heat water in pot, adding teabags or loose tea, and cardamom. Bring to a boil. Add milk and sugar and simmer on low heat for 2 minutes. Pour into a teapot and serve hot. Your guest might like more milk or sugar, both of which you can serve on the side.