Saturday, January 8, 2011


Simply defined, cooking is the preparation of food with heat. While there are many form of cooking, like frying, roasting, baking, grilling, barbequing, smoking and boiling, cooking in its pure form applies in Pakistan (and India too) preparing food in heavily greased/oiled forms. Generally dishes are prepared with lot of oil, onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic with salt, red chilies, turmeric powder and other ingredients. That is why the Pakistani and Indian dishes are considered to be ‘hot” or in other words heavily spicy and those no accustomed to this style of cooking are advised to take care.
In Pakistan, the main dishes revolve around meat, beef and chicken. Although rice is a favourite dish, generally people prefer to eat the dishes, which are mainly in curry form, with rotis, chapattis, naans or even Paratha. These local breads are round in shape and are made from plain flour, baked either at home or in the ovens (earthen tandoors).  The meat dishes have add on like potatoes, peas, turnips or grams. Chicken and beef are generally stand alone dishes with no add ones.
There are many dishes which are without meat like vegetable and pulses. But no matter what is the type, the process of coking remains same. That is first browning the onions in oil, then adding ginger and garlic, normally in paste form. Then the vegetable or meat is added with salt, chilies, and turmeric powder and other ingredients and then cooked in water so that meat becomes tender.
Potatoes and meat (Aloo Gosht) is one of the most common dishes in Pakistan, pictured above. See the recipe below and you would understand how the form of cooking I am talking about.
1 Kg. Mutton
½ kg Potato -peeled and cut into pieces of 1 to 2 inches.
¼ tsp.
turmeric (Haldi)
1 tsp.
chili (Lal Mirch) powder

3 tbs.
coriander (Dhaniya) seeds powder
2-3 medium onion –chopped or sliced
½ cup oil
1 tbs.
ginger (Adrak)
1 tsp.
garlic (Lehsan)
1 tsp. garam masala powder
cloves (Laung)

black pepper (Kali Mirch)
black cardamom (Bari Ilaichi)
1-1½ tsp. salt (according to taste)
1 cup fresh
coriander (Dhaniya) leaves
green chilies – chopped
1-2 Lemon

Fry the onion in oil till brown. Remove the onion and grind.
Add haldi, dhaniya, mirch, garlic, ginger and salt in the oil. Fry with little water till it dries.
Add mutton and ground onion and cook till water dries again.
Add 3 to 4 glasses of water cover and cook till the meat tenderizes.
When meat is almost done add potatoes and cook till the potatoes are cooked and the required gravy is left. Cook throughout on low heat.
Garnish with fresh dhaniya, green chilies and lemon.
Serve with naan.
Serving: 6 – 8 persons

I will share more recipes on cooking besides other forms of cooking as are practiced the world over. In the meantime try the above recipe, but be careful it will be very spicy – and if you reduce the spices, you may not enjoy it as it is with these spices that Pakistani recipes are made more flavoury and enjoyable. And if cooking is done in earthen pots, called handi (as seen above extreme right), and done on wood or coal rather than gas, its tastes gets multiplied.


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