Latest survey by UN’s World Urbanization Prospects data shows staggering results for demographics of Pakistan with rapid urbanization of cities especially Lahore. The results from Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed that over the past decade, Lahore’s population has grown from 5.4 million to 11.13 million. This horizontal urban sprawl does not just include smaller cities from Punjab but also people from the mega city of Karachi.
Diversity of Food in Karachi and Lahore
While the government of Punjab is busy in strategic planning to halt the horizontal spread of city beyond its gates, there is a positive development in urban areas of the city that has not caught the attention of foodies around the city yet. Lahore is known for its desi food that typically includes Gosht Karhai, Paaye, Besan-Fried Rahu, Chicken Cholay, Lassi, Nan and many more. However, if you have lived in Karachi for even a short period of time, you will notice the wide range of options that one has when it comes to food.
Being a mega city, Karachi is a home to people of multiple ethnicities like Bihari, Dehli wale, Memon, Punjabi, Sindhi, Hyderabadi, Gujrati and so many more unlike Lahore that is mainly Punjabi dominated province. The food rivalry between two cities is a well debated phenomenon, there is no argument that Karachi offers far more variety of foods from a diverse population than any city in Pakistan.
The influx of large number of people of Karachi in Lahore has brought noticeable changes in eateries in Lahore and here is the list of Karachite’s guide to food in Lahore to embrace the change
1- Chai Dhabas
Yes, we know Lahoris drank tea before as well however, the culture of open-air tea places known as ‘Dhabas’ has recently evolved in the city and the idea is catching up rapidly and spreading across the city. Chai Dhabbas with lacchaydaar parathas is a tradition in Karachi that has evolved to attract more posh crowd in previous years.
Similar trend has started to emerge in Lahore especially during winter season. Some of the places include ‘Karak Khel’, ‘Chai Shaai’, ‘Chaaye Wala’, ‘What’a Paratha’ and many more where you can not only enjoy variety of teas but also the variety of lacchaydaar parathas in open spaces with traditional music in background.
2- Sheermal and Puri Parathas
Lahore traditionally is a hub for variety of naans, a rich flatbread that is served with gravies and barbeque. However, recently several restaurants have started serving famous breads of Karachi specifically ‘Sheermaal’, a royal semi sweet flour bread that is taken with Qorma, Nihari and Murgh Musallam. Similarly, Puri Paratha is a rich fried paratha that is mostly served with Barbeque instead of naan. Several restaurants in Lahore including Bundu Khan Restaurant, Bar BQ Tonight, Zakir Tikka and few others have started serving them as their demand increased overtime.
3- Genuine Biryani
If you are a true Lahori and have a friend from Karachi, you ought to have fought over authenticity of Biryani that is available in Lahore. Whether you won that argument or not, let us assure you that the biryani that you are used to eating in Lahore is nowhere near authentic biryani from era of Mughals in India.
With more people from Karachi in Lahore, there are now few places in Lahore that sell authentic Bombay and Sindhi Biryani with “Aaloos” (Potatoes) in it. ‘Karachi Naseeb Biryani’, ‘Karachi Biryani’ and ‘Biryani Express’ are some of the places that sell authentic Karachi biryani and can change opinion of Lahoris about the ‘Pulao style Biryani’ that they are accustomed to.
4- Paratha Rolls
Several years ago, Paratha Rolls were introduced in Lahore with a blend of Lahori style. Recently, restaurants like Red Apple have started serving paratha rolls with Puri parathas that is as close to famous rolls of ‘Hot &Spicy’ in Karachi as possible. Similarly, Karachi Silver Spoon, Karachi Hot & Spicy and few others now serve authentic paratha rolls like Karachi.
5- Halwa Puri with Aaloo Tarkari
Halwa Puri is a traditional breakfast for Lahoris since forever, however, the Karachites often miss the traditional Aaloo tarkari that is served with Halwa puri in Karachi. If you are looking for traditional halwa puri breakfast that is served in Karachi, the breakfast platter from Bundu Khan Restaurant is a must try for both Lahoris and Karachites that serves spicy Chanay, Aaloo Tarkari with Achar and fresh yoghurt to kickstart your mornings.
Other Karachi Food Items in Lahore
Apart from the above mentioned food items, there are several other items that have started to pop up in different menus of restaurants like Dhaga Kebab, Fry Kebab, Namkeen Karhai, Afghani menu and Pasanday Gosht. Keeping aside the traditional rivalry among cities, as a true foodie there is a lot more to add in Karachite’s Guide to Food in Lahore for the rich food culture of Karachi that already satisfies the taste buds of a diverse population.