Friday, June 27, 2014

Indians Love Pakistani Spicy Grilled Meats

"When Delhi's Press Club organised an evening of Pakistani food and music, flying in chefs from Islamabad, the racks of richly-spiced meat on the grill quickly ran out as hundreds of Indian journalists brought their families, equipped with "tiffin" boxes to take away extra supplies"  BBC Report 26 June 2014

The BBC story highlights the fact that the vegetarian India demonstrates its deep love of the exquisite taste of Pakistan's meat dishes whenever the opportunity presents itself.  To further illustrate the phenomenon, let me share with my readers how two famous Indians see meat-loving Pakistan:

Sachin Tendulkar:

 The senior cricketer...said he gorged on Pakistani food and had piled on a few kilos on his debut tour there. "The first tour of Pakistan was a memorable one. I used to have a heavy breakfast which was keema paratha and then have a glass of lassi and then think of dinner. After practice sessions there was no lunch because it was heavy but also at the same time delicious. I wouldn't think of having lunch or snack in the afternoon. I was only 16 and I was growing," Tendulkar recalled. "It was a phenomenal experience, because when I got back to Mumbai and got on the weighing scale I couldn't believe myself. But whenever we have been to Pakistan, the food has been delicious. It is tasty and I have to be careful for putting on weight," he said.

Source: Press Trust of India November 2, 2012

 Hindol Sengupta:

Yes, that's right. The meat. There always, always seems to be meat in every meal, everywhere in Pakistan. Every where you go, everyone you know is eating meat. From India, with its profusion of vegetarian food, it seems like a glimpse of the other world. The bazaars of Lahore are full of meat of every type and form and shape and size and in Karachi, I have eaten some of the tastiest rolls ever. For a Bengali committed to his non-vegetarianism, this is paradise regained. Also, the quality of meat always seems better, fresher, fatter, more succulent, more seductive, and somehow more tantalizingly carnal in Pakistan. I have a curious relationship with meat in Pakistan. It always inevitably makes me ill but I cannot seem to stop eating it. From the halimto the payato the nihari, it is always irresistible and sends shock shivers to the body unaccustomed to such rich food. How the Pakistanis eat such food day after day is an eternal mystery but truly you have not eaten well until you have eaten in Lahore!

Source: The Hindu August 7, 2010

Silicon Valley Indians:

I personally see vivid proof of how much Indians love Pakistani food every time I go to Pakistan restaurants serving chicken tikka, seekh kabab, biryani and nihari in Silicon Valley, California. Among the Pakistani restaurants most frequented by Indians are Shalimar, Pakwan and Shan. These restaurants are also very popular with white Americans and East Asians in addition to other ethnic groups including Afghans, Middle Easterners and South Asians.

Carnivorous Pakistanis: 

A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Nature magazine reported that Pakistanis are among the most carnivorous people in the world.

The scientists conducting the study  used "trophic levels" to place people in the food chain. The trophic system puts algae which makes its own food at level 1. Rabbits that eat plants are level 2 and foxes that eat herbivores are 3. Cod, which eats other fish, is level four, and top predators, such as polar bears and orcas, are up at 5.5 - the highest on the scale.
Trophic Levels Map Source: Nature Magazine
After studying the eating habits of 176 countries, the authors found that average human being is at 2.21 trophic level. It put Pakistanis at 2.4, the same trophic level as Europeans and Americans. China and India are at 2.1 and 2.2 respectively.

Source: Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences

The countries with the highest trophic levels (most carnivorous people) include Mongolia, Sweden and Finland, which have levels of 2.5, and the whole of Western Europe, USA, Australia, Argentina, Sudan, Mauritania, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan, which all have a level of 2.4.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also published recent report on the subject of meat consumption. It found that meat consumption in developing countries is increasing with rising incomes. USDA projects an average 2.4 percent annual increase in developing countries compared with 0.9 percent in developed countries. Per capita poultry meat consumption in developing countries is projected to rise 2.8 percent per year during 2013-22, much faster than that of pork (2.2 percent) and beef (1.9 percent).


Although meat consumption in Pakistan is rising, it still remains very low by world standards. At just 18 Kg per person, it's less than half of the world average of 42 Kg per capita meat consumption reported by the FAO.

While Pakistanis are the most carnivorous people among South Asians, their love of meat is spreading to India with its rising middle class incomes.  Being mostly vegetarian, neighboring Indians consume only 3.2 Kg of meat per capita, less than one-fifth of Pakistan's 18 Kg. Daal (legumes or pulses) are popular in South Asia as a protein source.  Indians consume 11.68 Kg of daal per capita, about twice as much as Pakistan's 6.57 Kg.

India and China with the rising incomes of their billion-plus populations are expected to be the main drivers of the worldwide demand for meat and poultry in the future.

Related Links:


Anonymous said...

I really don't see the point of this article. Of course, Indians love Pakistani food. But is there anything called Pakistani food? You would get most of the dishes that you call as Pakistani food in India too - and the reverse might hold true, at least for Punjabi cuisine.
This constant striving by Pakistanis to distance themselves and find points of differences, from India speaks of a Nation and a People, still searching for an identity.

There a couple of things that I would like to get your comments on?
1) Why is there an underlying tone of "pride" in Pakistan's consumption of non-veg food? Eating/preparing non-veg dishes does not make you superior in any way, just as eating only vegetarian dishes is not. Your article seems to be a desperate attempt to find something to crow about Pakistan.
2) More than 50% (I think the number is higher) of India is non-veg. Pakistani cuisine is similar to Punjabi/Mughlai cuisine in India. However, are you familiar with some of the other (pre-dominantly) non-veg cuisines such as Chettinad (Tamil Nadu), Kerala and Bengal? If you live in the US, especially in the Bay area, you might be aware that Chettinad is the latest craze, as Americans have started to discover that Indian cuisine is not just Punjabi (tandoors and Nans).

I truly admire your attempt to bring out the positives in Pakistan. I think Pakistanis need that, just as every country does. The media focuses only on negatives, which destroys the spirit and soul of a nation. However, please go back to the type of blogs that you used to write, back in 2007 and 2008. Now, most of your blogs seem desperate and show a deep hatred for Indians.

vishesh said...

There is nothing known as pakistani food, your food, your culture, your language is just morphed versions of Indian food, culture, language. Unfortunately, due to the great inferiority complex that you guys have for being forcefully converted to muslim and being brainwashed, you people think that you have your own culture and food when the fact of the matter is that every culture in the so called pakistan is nothing but Indian which you extremists are trying so hard to change into arab. pakistan is nothing but a failed concept of failed people and you should seriously check yourself out if you think that you have a culture of your own.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan food in #Vienna. All You Can Eat,Pay As You Wish Restaurant Draws crowds in #Austria …
As immigrant communities grow in cities around the world, Pakistani, Indian, Chinese, Arabian and other exotic cuisines have found their way into the hearts of a diverse range of people.

In Austria, one set of restaurant owners has introduced yet another dimension to the dining experience — the concept of a 'suggested donation' at an eatery.

'Der Weiner Deewan' in Vienna is a Pakistani restaurant based on a pay-as-you-wish concept: diners pay according to what they thought the food, quality and experience of their meal was worth.

We contacted Afzaal and Natalie Deewan to find out if you can base a restaurant on good karma. As the owners, tell us about yourselves.

Natalie Deewan: Afzaal Deewan, a cricket-player, cook and businessman from Mandi Bahauddin, Pakistan, landed in Vienna, Austria, in 2004 as an asylum seeker. There he met me, Natalie, a student in Languages and Philosophy, and we decided to join forces. Deewan would cook and I handled the rest. One year of intensive research later, we opened the Der Wiener Deewan, which translates to the Viennese divan, with the tagline 'Pakistani Food, Essen für alle' (Food for Everybody). It was the first Pakistani curry buffet-restaurant in town. How did the idea for pay-as-you-like come about for the restaurant?

Natalie: We wanted it to be a very accessible place, where the two of us, a student and an asylum seeker, as we were at that time, could have been our own guests. The idea of pay as you wish emerged at the very end: it sounded simple, but radical – and funny! People should be invited to choose their own price, according to their satisfaction, the amount they have eaten and their financial means. Deewan was confident people would like his food, so hopefully, they would pay accordingly. We decided to give it a try and see how far we would get. How do you manage to make money or break even when you just trust people to pay as much as they want?

Natalie: We give trust and it comes back! We can trust in people’s capacity to think for themselves: if they did not pay at least a fair price and we therefore had to close, where would they find such a good meal for such a cheap price then? We have lots of regular customers who eat several times a week, some even daily, at our restaurant. They want to come again and in order to find the shop open and food ready, they simply have to pay a fair price. It looks like the majority of our guests want us to keep going. Is there a minimum amount to be paid per diner, as is the case with most all-you-can-eat buffets?

Natalie: Before leaving, our guests come to the counter and are invited to choose a price that fits. It should be fair and sometimes our take-away boxes (which have fixed prices, ranging from 5 to 10 Euros) serve as orientation. Since we don’t have fixed prices for the buffet, you are not forced to eat all you can to justify an already set price. You can also eat only a small plate or only dessert and then pay a small amount. We just chose to combine two known concepts, all-you-can-eat and pay-as-you-wish.

Riaz Haq said...

OECD data on per capita meat consumption in Pakistan (12.5 Kg per person)

Pork 0 (World 12.6 Kg)

Goat 2.1 Kg (1.7 Kg)

Poultry 4.2 Kg (13.2 Kg)

Beef & Veal 6.2 Kg (6.5Kg)

Riaz Haq said...

An Overview of Poultry Industry in Pakistan by J. HUSSAIN, RABBANI, S. ASLAM and H.A. AHMAD:

Pakistan industry still attained 127% growth in the total number of birds produced, 126% growth in the total meat production and 71%growth in terms of total eggs produced between 2000 and 2010 (GOP, 2013). The reason behind this extraordinary growth is the existence of the strong base of this industry inPakistan. Presently the cheapest available sources of animal protein in Pakistan are the eggs and meat from the poultry sector (PPA, 2013a).

Despite showing excellent potential and growth over the years, per capita availability of poultry meat in Pakistan is still 5 kg and 51 eggs per year, compared to developed countries where these figures are 41 kg meat and 300 eggs (PPA, 2013b). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the average daily requirement for animal protein is 27 g per person, whereas in Pakistan it is only 17 g (Memon, 2012). Out of this 17 g,the share of proteins from poultry is just 5 g, causing a gap of 10 g per person per day. If calculated on an annual basis, bearing in mind the present population of Pakistan (180million), this gap is 788,000 t of meat. In the national meat pool the share of beef and mutton is either constant or decreasing steadily and the poultry sector has the potential tofill this gap

Poultry production has increased its share steadily in the total meat pool of the country(Figure 5). In 1971, the market share of beef was 61%, mutton was 37%, and poultry meat a mere 2-2.5% (GOP, 2013). In 2010 the market share of poultry meat had increased to 25%, whereas beef and mutton had reduced to 55% and 20%respectively (GOP, 2013). It was this dynamic increase in the overall magnitude of poultry sector that decreased the gap between the supply and demand of animal proteins in Pakistan, and also assisted in stabilising beef and mutton prices, making meat affordable to most of the Pakistani population.

Riaz Haq said...

Pulse (Daal) crops in Pakistan:
Understanding the importance of pulses United Nations ‘s(UN) 68th General Assembly declared “2016” as “International Year of Pulses”.
Pulses are cultivated all over the world but in Pakistan it is being cultivated on 5% of total cultivated area of crops and chickpea,black gram,mung bean.pigeon pea, mash,masoor and few others are grown.
In Pakistan pulses are grown on 1.5 million hectors of land. Chickpea play a vital role in country’s pulses production as it is cultivated on 73% of the total area occupied by pulses cultivation and its contribution to the total pulses production is 76% while mash and masoor consumes 2%( each )of
area under pulses cultivation and share 1.4% in total pulses production.
Mung Bean an easily digestible item is one of the important pulse crop of Pakistan, it is mainly grown in southern parts of Punjab and Sindh. Punjab alone provides 88% area for its cultivation and share 85% in its total production in the country.
On an average every Pakistani consumes 6-7 kg of pulses annually which shows the interest of Pakistani people in pulses which is increasing demand and supply gap as Pakistan doesn’t have enough domestic production to meet the requirement of its country men, its domestic production of pulses was 0.45 million tonnes in 2014 which was 0.75 million tonns in 2013 much lower than demand.
Pakistan spent $139.096 million of foreign exchange in the fiscal year 2010-2011 to meet the domestic requirements of pulses by importing 628.508 thousand tonnes of pulses. 444.7776 thousand tonnes were imported during 2009-2010 according to available reports, these reports show increasing import trend as country spent $224.135 million in July2014-january 2015 and imported 370,181 metric tonns compared to $165.160 million in July2013-January2014 and imported volume of 262,509 metric tonnes, Country’s import volume of pulses was raised by 32.41 % as 63,130 metric tonnes were imported in January 2015 compared to 47,679 metric tonnes in same period of 2014.
Pakistan is mainly depended on Canada,Australia,Burma,Tanzania,Euthiopia to full fill the domestic requirement of pulses which is about 0.6 metric tonnes every year.
Major challenges faced by pulses sector in Pakistan are, farmers get lower prices for their outputs due to this farmers are switching to another crops for their bread and butter, role of middle men, lack of modern technology, machinery ,improper harvesting, improper sowing,delay or early sowing of seeds, non certified seeds, less resistant varieties of pulses, lack of interest of Government or improper Government policies and lack of research on pulses to increase productions. if work is done on these issues Pakistan will be able to produce and full fill domestic needs and it will also create more employment opportunities where other cash crops cant be grown.

Riaz Haq said...

#Halal Guys eatery coming to #SanFrancisco Bay Area with first outlet at Union Square. @BayAreaMuslims The Halal Guys, New York City’s immensely popular street eats brand, will officially open its first brick-and-mortar in San Francisco on Jan. 27.

The new spot, located at 340 O’Farrell St. in the old Naan N Curry, will be the first step in what’s a miniature Bay Area takeover for the East Coast food cart. (They have plans for another spot in Berkeley). Right now, the Halal Guys have 200 locations in development across the U.S., Canada and Southeast Asia.

We’ve been following the news of Halal Guys setting up shop in the Bay Area for the last few months now. This latest update means they’re less than a month from dishing out those renowned chicken gyros or falafel between Taylor and Mason streets for both Union Square and Tenderloin audiences.

Stay tuned for more coverage.

Halal Guys: 340 O’Farrell St., Sunday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan Fauji #Meat begins commercial operations to export 100 tons of #halal meat daily

KARACHI: Fauji Meat Limited – a subsidiary of Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim Limited (FFBL) – officially commenced commercial operations of its meat processing and export business on Monday.

FFBL, Group GM Finance/CEO Syed Aamir Ahsan, said the firm kick started the operations in April 2016 and booked sales revenue close to an estimate of Rs1 billion in the first nine months (April-December 2016).

“The revenue would touch Rs16-20 billion in the next 1-2 years,” Ahsan told The Express Tribune on the sidelines of inaugural ceremony of the abattoir in Bin Qasim, Karachi.

This is one of the world’s largest meat processing and exporting plant established at a cost of $75 million.

The abattoir and meat processing facility has a daily production capacity of 100 tons of meat (85 tons of beef and 15 tons of mutton) in frozen and chilled categories for worldwide export.

“You, perhaps, may not find such a big plant across the world,” said Ahsan. “This year {2017}, we will fully utilise the installed capacity,” he said.

“Our quality and processing is not less than anyone in the world,” he said. He said FML would also introduce its quality products at local markets.

FFBL’s share price increased 1.24%, or Rs0.67, and closed at Rs54.29 with 5.39 million shares changing hands at the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Monday. The increase in price was attributed to restoration of subsidy on fertilisers.

Present, future exports

The plant is currently serving the GCC region (Kuwait and UAE) and China, and is in the process of obtaining formal approval for export of meat to Russia, MENA region and Central Asia.

Iran has given approval, while approvals from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Russia are in the pipeline. “We are confident that all these countries would approve during the years 2017-2018,” he said.

“The volume of sales of halal meat stands at $300 billion. Pakistan’s share in this is almost nil,” he said.

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics’ latest data, the export of meat and meat preparations dropped 19% in dollar denomination to $87.56 million during July-November 2016 from $108.10 million in the same period last year.

It decreased 25.19% quantity-wise to 23,107 tons in the said five months.

Pakistan has been endowed with a large livestock population which includes cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat. It has a herd size of more than 60 million animals; one of the largest in the world.

Responding to a question, Ahsan said, production of 100-tons-a-day is a single-shift installed capacity. With the addition of another shift, the capacity can be doubled at a nominal investment.

The firm has engaged dozens of farmers to make quality breed available on a consistent and scientific basis.

Fauji Foundation Group Chairman Khalid Nawaz said the group started off with $0.2 million and now its annual turnover exceeds $1.5 billion, making it one of the largest business conglomerates in the country with interests in more than 18 industries and having a diverse investment portfolio.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan becomes third-largest importer of cooking oil

KARACHI: Pakistan has become the third largest importer of cooking oil after China and India, a statement said on Saturday.

“The import of crude and refined cooking oil has increased to 2.6 million tons per annum in Pakistan,” Westbury Group Chief Executive Rasheed Jan Mohammad said at a one-day conference on edible oil.

Balance of payments: Current account deficit widens 92%

Pakistan also imports 2.2 million tons oil seeds every year, he said.

Imports help the country meet around 75% of its domestic needs. The remaining need is met through locally produced banola and mustard oils.

Pakistan imports crude and refined cooking oils (palm and palm olein) mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia and brings in soybean oil from North America and Brazil.

Jan Mohammad said approximately 30% of the import bill is comprised of taxes that traders pay at Pakistan’s sea ports. “The government should rationalise the taxes,” he said.

Dr James Fry, Chairman of LMC International, a research institute of the UK, said fluctuation in production, demand and price of edible oils has a direct link with crude fuel oils in the world. “The production and supply of palm oil would increase in 2017,” he projected.

The statement issued by Pakistan Edible Oil Conference (PEOC) quoted speakers at the conference, saying that Pakistan needs to set up one more import terminal at sea ports to keep the flow of goods smooth.

Apparel sector: Govt urged to withdraw duty on cotton yarn import

They said that Pakistan has so far invested Rs50 billion in import, processing and storage industries of edible oil. They estimated a similar quantum of investment in the years to come. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Chief Executive SM Muneer said revival of the local economy, increased disposable income, surging demand for cooking oil and rising population have created opportunities for more investment in the edible oil industry in Pakistan.

Zubair Tufail, President, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that per-capita consumption of cooking oil in Pakistan is among the highest in the world.

He said Malaysia and Indonesia remained two big sources of import of the oil into the Pakistan. He asked Malaysia and Indonesia to increase investment in the edible oil industry in Pakistan, as they can take benefit of transit trade to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries via Pakistan.

Outstanding bills: Disruption in oil supplies to power plants feared

Sheikh Amjad Rafique, a speaker at the conference, said Malaysia has imposed taxes on export of oil to Pakistan. “This is a negation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Malaysia,” he said.

He said the Pakistani government needs to engage with Malaysia to remove this anomaly and exploit full benefit of the agreement in place.

Riaz Haq said...

Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2017; 37(3): 329–341.
Published online 2017 Jun 30. doi: 10.5851/kosfa.2017.37.3.329
PMCID: PMC5516059
An Insight of Meat Industry in Pakistan with Special Reference to Halal Meat: A Comprehensive Review
Muhammad Sohaib* and Faraz Jamil1

In Pakistan, per capita use of meat is around 32 kg as compared to developed world, where per capita meat consumption reached to 93 kg as lead by Australia followed by USA. Accordingly, during the last few years, modern slaughter houses and processing facilities are established in Pakistan. These plants are mainly located across Lahore and Karachi, having capacity to produce processed meat products. Currently, Pakistan meat industry is producing variety of meat products including traditional and western style like kabab, kofta, fillings for samosas, mince products, nuggets, burger patties, sausages, and tender pops etc (Noor, 2015). Moreover, given the increased concern of food safety and a shift to modern meat processing methods, the meat product businesses are experiencing further integration (Kristensen et al., 2014). Furthermore, the size of slaughter houses and meat processing companies has also been raising leading intensification and more variety of meat products. The slaughtering and meat processing technologies for poultry and livestock has seen momentous changes. The conventional techniques of “one knife to kill”, one blade to remove hair/skin and one weighing balance to trade meat” has disappeared significantly in large-scale productions, shifting to mechanized slaughter houses, refined cuts according to consumer demand, chilled-chain distribution and regulated selling of meat and meat products (Troy et al., 2016).


Pakistan per capita meat consumption in 2000 was 11.7 kg that was increased to 13.8 and 14.7 kg in 2006 and 2009, respectively. Additionally, current per capita meat consumption has reached to 32 kg that is further expected to reach 47 kg by 2020 (Table 1). However, urbanization, economic growth, industrialization as well as eating pattern resulting increased per capita meat in the future years that will also generates higher demand for meat and allied products (Chartsbin, 2017). The dietary awareness to population has also played key role in shifting preferences to consume meat and its products. Pakistan having rich traditions and cultural festivities is also adding more demand for meat and meat products during whole year and this demand further rises significantly during festive season. To cope up this growing demand, government as well as meat industry are now concentrating to meet requirements by providing sufficient, healthy and quality produce, both fresh and processed products (GOP, 2016). Furthermore, consumer awareness is pushing meat industry and regulating agencies to keep an eye on quality of meat, safety assurance, animal health and welfare as well as precise traceability (Steinfeld et al., 2006).

Riaz Haq said...

Michelin-starred #restaurant. New Punjab Club was awarded a Michelin Star, just 18 months after it opened its doors in one of Hong Kong’s prime localities.

33-year-old Syed Asim Hussain recently become the youngest restaurateur in the world to hold two Michelin stars.

In December, his ambitious and extremely personal Pakistani restaurant New Punjab Club was awarded a Michelin Star, just 18 months after it opened its doors in one of Hong Kong’s prime localities.

With this, the New Punjab Club is also the first Pakistani restaurant in the world with a Michelin Star. Hussain’s other Michelin honour has been awarded for his French bistro, Belon.

Hussain shared his excitement about the Michelin honour with Images in an exclusive chat over the phone from Hong Kong, "I feel very proud to have received two stars this year. I sort of expected it for the French restaurant, but to have the New Punjab Club recognised so early on is exciting.

Hussain continues, "It’s the first Pakistani restaurant to have a Michelin Star, and I was just telling my team that we have to make sure it stays. Initially, I was convinced someone was pranking us, or we got a call by mistake. I didn’t believe it until the morning of the awards. It was a cool honour for me personally as well. In some ways, it belongs to my father also, for the work he was doing with his restaurants in the ‘80s and ‘90s in Hong Kong. Still talking about it gives me chills; it sure is hard to believe.”

The New Punjab Club and Belon are just two of the 22 restaurants under the Black Sheep Restaurants umbrella that Hussain co-founded with his business partner, Christopher Mark, in 2012.

Hussain was born in Hong Kong, but spent his formative years in Pakistan when his father, businessman and diplomat Syed Pervaiz Hussain, sent him - at age five - and his six-year-old brother off to boarding school at Lahore’s Aitchison College.

“The key element in the story of the New Punjab Club is nostalgia, of which Aitchison is a very big part of. Everyone at the restaurant knows about the school; they’ve seen pictures. My Aitchison stories have now become their Aitchison stories. So, the 13-14 years I spent there, have helped create the New Punjab Club. The essence that comes from Aitchison is very aristocratic and regal. As a kid, I also spent a lot of time at the Punjab Club in Lahore, which is why I affectionately named the restaurant after it.”

Before opening up the restaurant, the duo already had 15 restaurants to their credit under their group. Yet, Hussain says it wasn’t easy convincing Chris to open up a restaurant that serves Pakistani and Indian cuisine. “Pakistani cuisine is white-labelled all over the world as Indian food. I had been talking to [Chris] about this and had a hard time convincing him. So, I took him to Lahore in 2016, and in a week I showed him around Aitchison, Punjab Club, Gowalmandi, Lakshmi Chowk and even Cocoo’s. I was trying to make him look at this the way I did, to show him that we could build a story around this.”

The research and convincing didn’t end at Lahore. “We then went to London. The city has neighbourhoods that have great Pakistani food, which is not white-labelled as Indian food. We saw great modern Indian restaurants like the renowned Gymkhana, Dishoom, and Indian Accent among many others. This was all part of my attempt to convince him that we could do this - we would tell an original, interesting and sellable story.”

The duo was lucky, and got Chef Palash Mitra, of London’s Gymkhana on board for the restaurant. In Hussain’s words, “Mitra is one of the best South Asian chefs in the world.”

Hussain talked about the hurdles they faced during menu development, “We couldn’t get the seekh kabab right; they weren’t the same as they are in Main Market, Lahore. I then realised the issue was that the diameter of the seekh in Lahore is larger than that in India. So, I got some seekhs from Lahore just for this.”

Riaz Haq said...

Most famous #ingredients used to make typical '#Indian' #cuisine aren’t actually native to #India. chillies from #Mexico, potatoes from #SouthAmerica, tomatoes (introduced by the Portuguese) and the texture of its naan (from Central Asia)

I was in a narrow kitchen in Mumbai, one of India’s most strikingly modern cities, watching an ancient Indian meal being cooked on vessels of baked clay. Utensils made from leaves, wood and metal were scattered across the kitchen. The food was being prepared using only ingredients native to the subcontinent, which meant that the sharpness of chillies (native to Mexico) and the starch of the potatoes (imported from South America) were missing.

“No cabbages, cauliflower, peas or carrots, either,” said Kasturirangan Ramanujam, one of the cooks preparing the meal. But that won’t stop him from making an elaborate feast for my family that will include rice, the mulligatawny-like saatramudu, protein-rich kuzhambu gravy and an astonishing array of vegetables and snacks.

This is the shraadha meal that is eaten by many Hindu families in southern India on the death anniversaries of close family members – in this case, the anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing. While the feast is believed to feed families’ departed ancestors, it has inadvertently created a living memory of the region’s culinary history, because it is made entirely from recipes and ingredients that have existed on the subcontinent for at least a millennium.

In a country famous for its rich red curries made from tomatoes (introduced by the Portuguese) and the texture of its naan (from Central Asia), many of the most famous ingredients that go into typical ‘Indian’ food aren’t actually native to India.

Potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots and peas, which are now staples in contemporary Indian cooking, arrived in the subcontinent relatively recently. Accounts from the late-18th Century report that the Dutch brought potatoes to India primarily to feed other Europeans. Now, however, potatoes are boiled, baked, roasted, stuffed and fried in nearly every kitchen in India.

The late Indian food historian K T Achaya believed that chillies probably arrived from Mexico via Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama and answered a deeply felt need for a pungent spice that could be grown in every part of the country without needing as much rain as pepper.

And according to Ruchi Srivastava, producer for Indian television show The Curries of India, “All cuisines in India have adopted the tomato.” The plant arrived in India through a circuitous route – from South America to southern Europe, then to England and finally to India in the 16th Century courtesy of the British. Srivastava argues that restaurants and hotels have popularised red curry sauce as ‘Indian’ in the last 100 years. “This has now started changing the palate of people,” she said. “For anyone who doesn’t know much about Indian food, the onion-tomato gravy has become a classic.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Curry’s Journey From #Pakistan to the #Caribbean : Trace curry's journey around the world. Curry originated as early as 2500 BCE in what is modern-day Pakistan. It has since evolved into a truly global food. | CNN Travel

In 2019, ubiquitous Japanese curry house chain CoCo Ichibanya restaurant announced plans to bring its popular "curry rice" to India in 2020.

It might seem counter-intuitive to eat CoCo Ichibanya's relatively mild, sweet Japanese dish in the land of curry.
But the move underscores the sheer variety and complexity of curry -- a word that's long been misunderstood.

Curry is not a single spice, nor is it related to the namesake curry tree (though the leaves are used in many dishes in India).
The catch-all umbrella term refers to a "spiced meat, fish or vegetable stew," either freshly prepared as a powder or spice paste or purchased as a ready-made mixture," writes Colleen Sen in her book "Curry: A Global History."
According to Sen's book, the word curry most likely comes from a misunderstanding of the southern Indian word "kari," which "denoted a spiced dish of sauteed vegetables and meat."

"In the 17th century, the Portuguese [who colonized Goa in western India] took the word to mean a 'spiced stew' over rice and 'kari' eventually became 'caril' or 'caree' in Portuguese, then 'curry' in English," Sen tells CNN Travel.
Curry, which is thought to have originated as early as 2500 BCE in what is modern-day Pakistan, has since evolved into a truly global food, having traveled the world through colonization and immigration, indentured labor, trade and entrepreneurship.
Today, curry is everywhere, from chicken tikka masala in the UK to fiery green curry in Thailand, kare raisu in Japan and curry goat in Jamaica.
"I don't think there's a place in the world that doesn't have some kind of curry," says Sen.
If you're a curry lover, follow your cravings around the world by heading to these 12 destinations:

India, Japan, Jamaica, Pakistan, Thailand, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Caribbean, UK.

Established in 1947 following the end of British colonial rule and the violent partition of India, Pakistan sees strong influences from the Mughals (a Muslim dynasty that ruled India from the early 16th to the mid-18th century) in its cuisine.
This majority Muslim country tends to prepare dishes with beef, chicken or fish as well as lots of spices, such as nutmeg, cumin, turmeric, bay leaves, cardamom and black pepper.

Curry is incredibly popular, with dozens of varieties on offer all over the country, from famous slow-cooked haleem (a stew-like dish of wheat, barley, meat, lentils and spices) to spicy karahi (made with garlic, spices, vinegar, tomatoes and onions with mutton or chicken), bitter gourd curry, saag (a spiced puree of spinach and mustard greens), chickpea curry and daal chawal, a must-try comfort food usually served with rice or roti.

The list doesn't end there: Don't miss a warming aloo gosht (meat and potato curry); hearty, rich mutton korma; lobia daal (black-eyed peas curry); and goat paya, a slow-cooked curry starring incredibly tender trotters.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani resturant Zareen’s in #SiliconValley has thrived in #COVID #lockdown. Zareen Khan has modified her biz model by signing up for more delivery services and selling frozen dishes like beef chapli kebabs and naan. Her customers have stuck with her.

She mostly credits customer loyalty for Zareen’s current stability. One customer even asked a couple of weeks ago if she could make a large donation to the restaurant to make sure it survives.

“I will not accept it but just the gesture. ...” Khan said, trailing off. “It was a very emotional moment for me and made me realize we’re not just serving food, we’re serving our community. The way they’ve taken care of me is precious.”

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan‘s Shan masalas have a cult following in #India despite erratic supply chain. A fan says: "we just love the way it makes cooking glorious, rich, complex kormas and biryanis easy" #food #cuisine #art #culture #cooking #gourmet #SouthAsia

Each time the supply of this particular masala blend becomes erratic in Bengaluru, foodie groups on Facebook and WhatsApp start buzzing. “I found two packets of Sindhi Biryani Masala at Aishwarya supermarket in Koramangala." “Mega More on Sarjapur Road has Haleem and Bombay Biryani." “Amazon has some varieties but they are only selling packs of 8, anyone want to split up the order?"

Over the past decade, Shan, a packaged masala brand from Pakistan, has slowly invaded Indian kitchens. Fans of Shan follow developments in India-Pakistan relations with a hawk eye, because often, escalating tensions at the border seem to result in the supply of Pakistani products in India becoming sparse and unpredictable. Last year, a few days after the attack on Indian forces in Pulwama, my husband turned to me and said, “How are we doing on Shan?", a quiver of anxiety in his voice. I had stocked up on the biryani and korma masalas, I assured him, but we were running low on the haleem.

More than a year later, the Shan Haleem masala remains elusive (maybe it’s the covid-19 effect this time) and my annual haleem-making adventure during Ramzan had to be put on hold. Friends in Mumbai and Delhi, however, say Shan is “more or less available" in their cities. This felt patently unfair and I recently discovered why Bengaluru had these periodic shortages. According to an interview with Shan Foods’ founder Sikander Sultan by the Economic Times in 2014, while the company has made inroads into the north-Indian market and was even leading in certain sub-categories within the packaged masala blend segment, they hadn’t expanded to “some geographies like the south."

The company, it seems, is not actively distributing the product in southern Indian cities, and it’s only thanks to some enterprising retailers that a few of the masala varieties are available at all in Bengaluru, and this naturally suffers when the overall supply falls because of border tensions.

If Mr Sultan ever reads this, he should know that he is losing out on a lucrative and highly motivated market. “I have asked my sister to courier them to me from Delhi," says Bengaluru-based food consultant and writer Monika Manchanda. “I’ve been looking for them all over town but they seem to have disappeared from the shelves." I recently reached out to a seller on Amazon that stocks Shan but sells them only in 8 packs of a single variety and asked if they would customise an 8-pack for me. They did, and just a couple of days ago a carton of Shan made its way home (two each of the Bombay Biryani, Korma, Chicken, and Nihari masalas, if you want to know).

But what’s so special about Shan masalas in the first place, ask the uninitiated, sounding skeptical—isn’t it like any other meat masala that you sprinkle on top of your curry for that extra flavour and restaurant-like taste? “Just because it’s Pakistani?" a full-of-nationalistic-fervour neighbour recently asked me when I was extolling Shan’s virtues on a WhatsApp group, possibly suspecting me of deliberately snubbing made-in-India atmanirbhar products.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistani ingredient making all the difference in #Indian food. Ranjana Kumar’s mutton & chicken korma curries are the talk of the town in #NewDelhi...a secret ingredient she's been using for over a decade — Shan Foods’ spice mixes — comes from #Pakistan

The Shan Foods company sells spice mixes in 65 countries including India, a nation with whom Pakistan shares decades of enmity that is dominated by their territorial dispute over Kashmir. They have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947.
“I wasn’t aware it’s a Pakistani brand,” Kumar told Arab News, saying her family loved dishes cooked with Shan spices and that she always kept extra stock of the mixes at home. “How does it matter whether it is Pakistani or Indian? The taste is good. Both the neighbors share the same taste and culture and I feel both countries should have access to their products,” she added.
Kumar’s family is a supporter of India’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under whose rule the already brittle ties with Pakistan have deteriorated further in recent years.
Even so, Kumar said, there was no harm in using Pakistani products.
“Both India and Pakistan share the same history, same past, and the same taste. What’s wrong if we get Pakistani products in our kitchen or house? This should be promoted so that both countries could understand each other better.”
One shop owner said that, although he did not like selling Pakistani brands, customers came asking for Shan spices.
“I don’t like to keep the brand, but customers demand it,” Naresh Sankhla told Arab News at his New Delhi grocery store. “That’s why I keep it. I reluctantly sell this brand from the enemy country, but there is demand for it. I must be selling around 150 packets of Shan (spices) every month.”
Others say that, despite the brand’s popularity, they put India first.
“I have stopped distributing the Shan brand last year after Pakistan’s involvement in the Pulwama tragedy,” New Delhi-based distributor Gaurav Gupta told Arab News, referring to last year’s attack in a town in the Indian part of Kashmir in which 50 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed. New Delhi has blamed Pakistan-based groups for the assault. The Pakistan government denies any official complicity.
Despite his official words, however, quick market research showed that Gupta’s company remains one of the main sellers of Shan’s products.
Rafat Shahab, who runs a catering company, regretted such negative attitudes and said that culinary exchanges needed to be encouraged despite the two countries’ political differences.
“I used the Shan brand a lot whenever I got orders for parties or special occasions,” she told Arab News. “It brings an authentic taste in the food. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have that kind of relationship with Pakistan. Politics should not come in the way of people’s contacts and culinary exchanges.”

Riaz Haq said...

Asafoetida (Heeng): The smelly spice #India loves but never grew. It's imported from #Afghanistan, #Iran. Known to battle flatulence, it is often recommended in recipes that involve gassy foods such as lentils (daal) or beans. #Ayurveda #Gas

Asafoetida, a smelly, acrid spice beloved by Indians, has been used to lace their food for centuries. But it was never cultivated in the region - until now.

Last week, scientists planted about 800 saplings of the plant in Lahaul and Spiti, a cold desert nestled in the Himalayan mountains, exactly two years after India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) imported six varieties of seeds from Iran.

"We are confident it will work," says Dr Ashok Kumar, one of the scientists who painstakingly germinated the seeds in a lab. He says this was necessary because for every 100 seeds, only two sprout. The plant, it turns out, has a vexing habit of going dormant.

"It goes to sleep to adapt to harsh conditions," Dr Kumar says.

Asafoetida, or hing as it's commonly known in India, is a perennial, flowering plant that largely grows in the wild. It thrives in dry soil in temperatures under 35C. So India's tropical plateaus and plains, humid coast and heavy monsoons rule out much of the country for hing farming.

Instead, Indians rely on imports mostly from Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - worth more than $100m in 2019 - to get their fix.

This is surprising news for many Indians who would argue that hing is inherently Indian. For many Hindus and Jains, who don't eat onion and garlic because of dietary restrictions, hing's pungency makes it an ideal substitute.

"I use it in all my dals, and I don't cook them with onion or garlic," says Marryam Reshii, food writer and author of The Flavour of Spice. "When you have hing in your food, that tiny whiff of it... it just tastes so, so great!"

Ms Reshii calls herself a "hing lover" - she even put out a detailed thread earlier this week clarifying the origins and uses of her favourite spice.

She says hing's unique smell, a strong, bitter odour, makes it "unlike any other spice".

It even derives its name from that scent - asafoetida in Latin means "fetid gum". The smell is so strong that raw hing, a greyish-white sticky resin collected from the roots, is dried and mixed with flour - wheat in India's north, rice in the south - to turn it into an edible spice. Wholesalers who import hing use tiny amounts of it to make graded variations that sell in the form of blocks, coarse granules or a fine powder.

Although the Persians once called it "the food of the gods", hing is now barely found in cuisines outside of India. In other parts of the world it's either used for medicinal reasons or as an insecticide! But In India, which, by some estimates, accounts for 40% of the world's hing consumption, it's hard to overstate its role in the kitchen.

A dash of it while cumin seeds and red chillies splutter in hot ghee can make an everyday dal sing. Across the country, it seasons delicately spiced soups (shorbas) and fresh relishes (koshambirs) and spikes leafy greens and vegetables tossed in ginger, turmeric and tomatoes. In the north, Kashmiri Hindus stir it in with lamb, red chillies, fennel and dried ginger to make their classic rogan josh and southerners use it to temper their sambars, a variety of steaming lentil stew topped with mustard seeds and curry leaves. It's what sets apart Kolkata's famed hing kachoris (pastries fried to a crisp) and the fluffy idlis (steamed rice cakes) of the temple town of Kanchipuram.


But he says Kabuli hing is a "hot-selling" item, while Hadda hing, which is "sweeter and smells of oranges" is the least popular.

Riaz Haq said...

Meet Hing: The Secret-Weapon Spice Of Indian Cuisine

by Carolyn Beans

The moment my boyfriend — now husband — and I got serious about our future together, my father-in-law got serious about teaching me to cook Indian cuisine. My boyfriend was already skilled in the kitchen. But Dr. Jashwant Sharma wanted extra assurance that the dishes from his native country would always have a place in our home. Plus, as he told me recently, he thought I'd like it.

"We mix four, five, six different spices in a single dish. These create a taste and aroma that you don't get in any other food. People exposed to it usually like it," he said.

Even before our cooking sessions, I knew that cumin and coriander are common ingredients and that turmeric will turn your fingers yellow. Hing, however, was something entirely new to me.

Europeans gave it the decidedly unflattering moniker "devil's dung." Even its more common English name, asafoetida, is derived from the Latin for fetid. Those unaccustomed to it can respond negatively to its strong aroma, a mix of sulfur and onions.

Hing comes from the resin of giant fennel plants that grow wild in Afghanistan and Iran. The resin can be kept pure, but in the States, you mostly find it ground to a powder and mixed with wheat. In The Book of Spice, author John O'Connell describes how Mughals from the Middle East first brought hing to India in the 16th century.

Many Indians use hing to add umami to an array of savory dishes. But for the uninitiated, hing can be a tough sell. Kate O'Donnell, author of The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook, says that she only included hing as an optional spice. "For a Western palette, hing can be shocking," she says

I first encountered hing in one of our early cooking sessions. My father-in-law whipped its well-sealed white plastic bottle out of the cupboard, added a pinch to the pan, and put it back so quickly that I didn't notice the smell. I was most struck by how it bubbled and then dissolved in the hot ghee (clarified butter). And I was a bit skeptical that a pinch of anything could influence a giant pot of lentils liberally seasoned with three other spices.

Later, while experimenting on my own, I got my first full whiff of the spice. To me, the aroma is far from gag-inducing, but it takes a real leap of faith to add it to food. Once you make that leap, magical things happen.

When cooked, hing's pungent odor mellows to a more mild leek- and garlic-like flavor. Some still smell a hint of sulfur, but for many that quality fades entirely. My father-in-law says that hing has a balancing effect on a dish. "It smooths out the aroma of all the other spices and makes them all very pleasant," he says.

Vikram Sunderam, a James Beard Award winner and chef at the Washington, D.C., Indian restaurants Rasika West End and Rasika Penn Quarter, says that he adds hing to lentil or broccoli dishes. But he uses it judiciously.

"Hing is a very interesting spice, but it has to be used in the right quantity," he cautions. "Even a little bit too much overpowers the whole dish, makes it just taste bitter."

Some believe that hing helps with digestion and can ward off flatulence. Perhaps that's why many — including Sunderam — add it to legumes, broccoli and other potentially gas-inducing vegetables.

Some Indians also use it as a substitute for garlic and onions — ingredients discouraged by certain Eastern religions and Ayurvedic medicine.

That substitution makes sense to Gary Takeoka, a food chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Takeoka studied hing's volatiles — the chemical compounds that produce smells. "A major proportion of hing's volatiles are sulfur compounds," he explains. "Some of these are similar to the ones found in onions and garlic."

Riaz Haq said...

Taste of #Pakistan in #Montana. University of Montana alum Zohair Bajwa is crowdfunding his dream of bringing Pakistani #food to Missoula."Predominantly we will be serving curry style chicken lentils.. for vegetarian options Samosas are becoming popular"

There aren’t many opportunities to enjoy Pakistani food here in Missoula - in fact there are none - but one UM alum is trying to change that.

"I think it started with the whole idea of bringing my culture to Missoula," Zeera Food Truck creator Zohair Bajwa said. Bajwa is currently crowdfunding his dream of bringing Pakistani food to Missoula.

There weren’t any options for Pakistani food when Bajwa began attending the University of Montana about a decade ago so he started making it himself and when friends loved the food too he had an idea.

"It was very encouraging to see friends asking hey whens the next time you are going to make food and when can we come over. Just for the cultural aspect guests are always welcome so it was another chance to share my culture," Bajwa said.

So Zohair is looking to start with a food truck named 'Zeera' which will offer a number of dishes. "Predominantly we will be serving curry style chicken lentils for vegetarian options. Samosas are becoming popular here in Montana," Bajwa added.

Currently, Bajwa is crowdfunding to start the food truck and while a first campaign didn’t raise all the money needed, it was promising enough to hope a second will complete the goal.

Riaz Haq said...

#Halal #food was scarce in #SanFrancisco Bay Area. Now there are burgers, pizza and birriani. Lisa Ahmad’s Mirchi Cafe shows “beauty of Pakistan” & offers “food that looks like American food but has the flavor of Pakistan”#Pakistan

When Abbas Mohamed moved to Dublin as a teenager, there were barely any halal restaurants he and his family would visit. There were a few in San Francisco and some more dotted around the bay, but options were limited, both in their number as well as in the range of cuisines they offered, such as the Indo-Pakistani restaurant Shalimar in San Francisco or the halal Chinese restaurant Darda in Milpitas.

Fifteen years later, the situation is completely different — in part thanks to a growing community Mohamed launched in 2018 called Bay Area Halal Foodies. Congregating on Facebook, the group is introducing what could be the country’s first halal restaurant week, running in the Bay Area from Dec. 9 to 13. The event is a way for the community to share news about halal food businesses, rate restaurants and promote their own food ventures. When organizing the restaurant week, which promotes discounts and other offers at participating businesses, Mohamed counted more than 100 Bay Area halal restaurants.

“These are just the ones we know about. We’re still discovering new ones every day,” he said.

Halal restaurants serve meat that was slaughtered according to Islamic tradition. There are different opinions on how these traditions and rules are interpreted, but one of the rules in the group is to not argue about standards. The group was born out of necessity during Ramadan, Mohamed said, when many members of the Bay Area’s Muslim community wanted to know which restaurants were open late — places where they could break the fast from sunset until sunrise, when fasting starts again.

“Who’s open at 4 in the morning? No other person in their sane mind is asking that question,” Mohamed said.

It took until 2020 and the pandemic for the group to really take off: In January, it had 1,000 members and has since grown to 8,000.

“Not only were people looking for dining options, or reasons to leave the house,” he said, “a lot of home cooks are starting their businesses and promoting it on there, too.”

In the group, supply and demand is visible in real time, and prospective chefs and food businesses can gauge interest in their ideas and their offer. A few months ago, for example, a member asked the group if there would be a demand for halal smoked brisket, and after a sizable number of people on the group showed their interest, she started her new venture called Off the Menu Halal based out of a home kitchen in Cupertino.

Mohamed also notes that four places specializing in halal birria tacos have opened in the past few months.

Innovations like that show the evolution of the Bay Area’s halal food scene: Restaurants used to opt for more traditional menus, replicating the taste of the home countries. One of the first restaurants to go a different route and fuse halal practices with American food culture is Mirchi Cafe with its two locations in Fremont and Dublin. Run by Lisa Ahmad, an Italian American chef and convert to Islam, the restaurant’s menu signifies the power of food as a melting pot of cultures.

Ahmad grew up in a family of Italian restaurant owners, and later attended San Francisco’s now closed California Culinary Academy before starting a series of food businesses. She finally settled on Mirchi Cafe in 2004, where she combines the food of her childhood with the Pakistani culture and cuisine of her husband. The menu features creations such as Punjabi burgers made with ground chicken with onions, chiles and house-made masala, fries with masala mix, and pizza with a chicken tikka topping.

Riaz Haq said...

Like in other countries, culinary cultures fall along economic and social class lines in Pakistan. While the lower classes go to the cheap Pakistani restaurants and khokhas—roadside eateries, serving oily, spicy dishes, the middle and upper classes dine at more fashionable, pricey and exclusive places. The elite prefers a variety of Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mediterranean and American type high quality grill and steak houses. Major cities in Pakistan have very rapidly embraced a globalized, cosmopolitan food culture, offering a rich variety of cuisines.

We never thought the world would change so quickly with the globalization of markets, technologies, communications and intermixing of world cultures. Theoretically, the whole world is open for competition but what is actually sold and bought in the food industry has followed the familiar patterns of global domination. The power and influence of American popular culture, which besides music, film and sports, is reflected in fast-food chains, symbolizes hegemony. It means consumers have accepted everything of their own free will. There is a very broad body of people from every class and walk of life all over the world that wear jeans, t-shirts, and stand in queues to get a slice of pizza or a burger at outlets replicating American design, American colors and uniforms behind the counters.
Pakistan’s national cuisine is as varied as in any country, representing many regional, local and traditional dishes. However, the effects of commercialization and food chain culture can also be seen in the opening of specific food outlets in different cities. I believe it is one of the positive gains of global food chains opening up here. The other is the employment of young women as waiters and cash-register workers in at least three major cities—Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Interestingly, local food businesses have very quickly adapted to the changing tastes of Pakistanis by offering their own brands of pizza, burgers and fried chicken. In small and major cities, there are hundreds of local fast-food outlets that offer cheaper, affordable alternatives to expensive foreign brands. In every market of Pakistan, a one man burger cart will hit you in the face displaying the colorful photograph of an American style burger.
Like in other countries, culinary cultures fall along economic and social class lines in Pakistan. While the lower classes go to the cheap Pakistani restaurants and khokhas—roadside eateries, serving oily, spicy dishes, the middle and upper classes dine at more fashionable, pricey and exclusive places. The elite prefers a variety of Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mediterranean and American type high quality grill and steak houses. Major cities in Pakistan have very rapidly embraced a globalized, cosmopolitan food culture, offering a rich variety of cuisines.
Another remarkable shift is reflected in the opening up of coffee houses in major cities. Pakistan is still largely a tea-drinking country with a special taste for doodh-patti—tea brewed in milk and sugar. Many decades back, only the elite would have coffee on their breakfast tables or academics in the offices. It is now becoming a popular hot drink, thanks to motorways and the common belief that high doses of caffeine keep you awake behind the wheel.
Present day urban elite food culture is transforming itself to exclusive clubs on the front yards of shopping centers, on rooftops, and in the special dining rooms of five-star hotels. It is the prohibitive cost of having a cup of coffee or a piece of pastry on a porcelain plate that keeps the common man away--not unusual in elite cultures and elite-driven economies like that of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

World's first Michelin star for a #Pakistani #restaurant. Asim Hussain says his #HongKong eatery only represents one of #Pakistan's many #cuisines , meat-heavy, piquant food of #Punjab . At it doesn't come cheap - at US$100 per head.

Like many of Hong Kong's 85,000 strong South Asian population, Mr Hussein's family trace their lineage in the bustling financial hub back generations, when the city was a British colonial outpost.

His great-grandfather arrived during World War One, overseeing mess halls for British soldiers while his Cantonese speaking father owned restaurants in the eighties and nineties.

Mr Hussein, 33, already had some twenty eateries in his group when he decided to embark on his what he described as his most personal and risky project yet, a restaurant serving dishes from Pakistan's Punjab region, the family's ancestral homeland and where he was packed off to boarding school aged six.

Those tandoors, frequent trips to Lahore to perfect recipes and a kitchen overseen by head chef Palash Mitra, earned the New Punjab Club a Michelin star just 18 months after it opened its doors.

The success made headlines in Pakistan, a country that is unlikely to see a Michelin guide any time soon and whose chefs have long felt overshadowed by the wider global recognition gained from neighbouring India's regional cuisines.

"It makes us proud, it makes us very happy," Waqar Chattha, who runs one of Islamabad's best-known restaurants, told AFP. "In the restaurant fraternity it's a great achievement. It sort of sets a benchmark for others to achieve as well."

Mr Hussain is keen to note that his restaurant only represents one of Pakistan's many cuisines, the often meat-heavy, piquant food of the Punjab. At it doesn't come cheap - as much as US$100 per head.

"I'm not arrogant or ignorant to say this is the best Pakistani restaurant in the world. There are better Pakistani restaurants than this in Pakistan."
A great source of pride for HK's Pakistani community

But he says the accolade has still been a "great source of pride" for Hong Kong's 18,000-strong Pakistani community.

"It's bringing a very niche personal story back to life, this culture, this cuisine is sort of unknown outside of Pakistan, outside of Punjab, so in a very small way I think we've shed a positive light on the work, on who we are and where we come from," he explains.

It was the second star achieved by Black Sheep, the restaurant group which was founded six years ago by Mr Hussein and his business partner, veteran Canadian chef Christopher Mark, and has seen rapid success.

But the expansion of Michelin and other western food guides into Asia has not been without controversy.

Critics have often said reviewers tended to over-emphasise western culinary standards, service and tastes.

Daisann McLane is one of those detractors. She describes the Michelin guide's arrival in Bangkok last year as "completely changing the culinary scene there - and not in a good way."

She runs culinary tours to some of the Hong Kong's less glitzy eateries - to hole-in-the-wall dai pai dong food stalls, African and South Asian canteens hidden inside the famously labyrinthine Chungking Mansions and to cha chan teng tea shops famous for their sweet brews and thick slabs of toast.

For some, any recognition of Pakistan's overlooked cuisine is a success story.

Sumayya Usmani said she spent years trying to showcase the distinct flavours of Pakistani cuisine, so heavily influenced by the tumultuous and violent migration sparked by the 1947 partition of India.

When the British-Pakistani chef first pitched her cookbook to publishers on her country's cuisine, many initially balked.

Riaz Haq said...

Bun-kebabs usually include spiced potato patties or shami kebabs with chutney and salad

Pakistan's beloved 'poor man’s burger'
For Pakistanis, especially Karachiites, the iconic bun-kebab isn’t just a food but an expression of their identity.

Bun-kebabs, widely considered the most beloved Pakistani street food, are thin shami kebab or potato patties in fluffy, milky buns with tangy chutney and crisp vegetables. Optional fried eggs add an extra protein hit. The combination of explosive South Asian flavours, chutney-drenched buns and vegetarian options create a starkly different culinary experience from that of a burger. Ubiquitously available at kiosks and small shops or peddled on pushcarts throughout the country, they are generally sold for between 50 and 120 Pakistani rupees (£0.23-£0.55), depending on the neighbourhood.

Potato bun-kebabs have long been staples at school canteens, and travellers in Pakistan will see women perched on wooden benches feasting on them in crowded shopping plazas. They’re accessible enough to grab for a quick bite, but not so heavy – on the pocket or the stomach – to require serious investment. “You don’t need to book a reservation or plan out your monthly savings to have a really good bun-kebab,” said Riffat Rashid, the food content creator behind Girl Gotta Eat.

For many Pakistanis, bun-kebabs are intertwined with nostalgic family memories, often representing a first experience of eating out or getting takeaway. Osamah Nasir, who founded the Karachi Food Guide in 2013, remembers first eating bun-kebabs during load-shedding (power outages) at his maternal grandmother’s house when he was a child, where nearly a dozen of his cousins spent lazy Sunday afternoons. “In less than 100 Pakistani rupees (£0.46), we’d all be fed,” he said.

Pinpointing a definitive moment in history when bun-kebabs originated is difficult. Some consider them Pakistan’s affordable (and zestier) answer to burgers, especially because of the unique phenomenon of bun-kebab stalls positioned right outside fast-food franchises. Others, like Haji-Adnan, the third-generation owner of an unnamed bun-kebab stall in Burns Road (a food street in Karachi) think they came about in the 1950s. Haji-Adnan believes his grandfather, Haji Abdul Razzak, introduced them as a mess-free, to-go option for bustling workers in the city centre in 1953, before fast food joints started proliferating across Pakistan’s cities.

Riaz Haq said...

Across Borders & Divides in #SouthAsia, ‘Heavenly’ "Rooh Afza" (Soul Refresher) Cools Summer Heat in #Bangladesh, #India and #Pakistan. In Pakistan, the thick, rose-colored syrup — called a sharbat or sherbet — is mixed with milk and crushed almonds.

Its original recipe, more than a century old, is tucked away in a highly secure, temperature-controlled family archive in India’s capital.

But the sugary summer cooler Rooh Afza, with a poetic name that means “soul refresher” and evokes the narrow alleys of its birthplace of Old Delhi, has long reached across the heated borders of South Asia to quench the thirst of generations.

In Pakistan, the thick, rose-colored syrup — called a sharbat or sherbet and poured from a distinctive long-neck bottle — is mixed with milk and crushed almonds as an offering in religious processions.

In Bangladesh, a new groom often takes a bottle or two as a gift to his in-laws. Movies even invoke it as a metaphor: In one film, the hero tells the heroine that she is beautiful like Rooh Afza.

And in Delhi, where the summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the city feels like a slow-burning oven, you can find it everywhere.

The chilled drink is served in the plastic goblets of cold-drink vendors using new tricks to compete for customers — how high and how fast they can throw the concentrate from one glass to the next as they mix, how much of it they can drizzle onto the cup’s rim.

The same old taste is also there in new packaging to appeal to a new generation and to new drinkers: in the juice boxes in children’s school bags, in cheap one-time sachets hanging at tobacco stalls frequented by laborers, and in high-end restaurants where it’s whipped into the latest ice cream offering.

As summer heat waves worsen, the drink’s reputation as a natural, fruits-and-herbs cooler that lowers body temperature and boosts energy — four-fifths of it is sugar — means that even a brief interruption in manufacturing results in huge outcries over a shortage.

Behind the drink’s survival, through decades of regional violence and turmoil since its invention, is the ambition of a young herbalist who died early, and the foresight of his wife, the family’s matriarch, to help her young sons turn the beverage into a sustainable business.

The drink brings about $45 million of profit a year in India alone, its manufacturer says, most of it going to a trust that funds schools, universities and clinics.

“It might be that one ingredient or couple of ingredients have changed because of availability, but by and large the formula has remained the same,” said Hamid Ahmed, a member of the fourth generation of the family who runs the expanded food wing of Hamdard Laboratories, which produces the drink.

In the summer of 1907 in Old Delhi, still under British rule, the young herbalist, Hakim Abdul Majid, sought a potion that could help ease many of the complications that come with the country’s unbearable heat — heat strokes, dehydration, diarrhea.

What he discovered, in mixing sugar and extracts from herbs and flowers, was less medicine and more a refreshing sherbet. It was a hit. The bottles, glass then and plastic now, would fly off the shelves of his small medicine store, which he named Hamdard.

Riaz Haq said...

Across Borders & Divides in #SouthAsia, ‘Heavenly’ "Rooh Afza" (Soul Refresher) Cools Summer Heat in #Bangladesh, #India and #Pakistan. In Pakistan, the thick, rose-colored syrup — called a sharbat or sherbet — is mixed with milk and crushed almonds.

Mr. Majid died 15 years later, at the age of 34. He was survived by his wife, Rabea Begum, and two sons; one was 14, and the other a toddler. Ms. Begum made a decision that turned Hamdard into an enduring force and set a blueprint for keeping it profitable for its welfare efforts at a time when politics would tear the country asunder.

She declared Hamdard a trust, with her and her two young sons as the trustees. The profits would go not to the family but largely to public welfare.

The company’s biggest test came with India’s bloody partition after independence from the British in 1947. The Muslim nation of Pakistan was broken out of India. Millions of people endured an arduous trek, on foot and in packed trains, to get on the right side of the border. Somewhere between one million and two million people died, and families — including Ms. Begum’s — were split up.

Hakim Abdul Hamid, the older son, stayed in India. He became a celebrated academic and oversaw Hamdard India.

Hakim Mohamad Said, the younger son, moved to the newly formed Pakistan. He gave up his role in Hamdard India to start Hamdard Pakistan and produce Rooh Afza there. He rose to become the governor of Pakistan’s Sindh Province but was assassinated in 1998.

When in 1971 Pakistan was also split in half, with Bangladesh emerging as another country, the facilities producing Rooh Afza in those territories formed their own trust: Hamdard Bangladesh.

All three businesses are independent, run by extended members, or friends, of the young herbalist’s family. But what they offer is largely the same taste, with slight variations if the climate in some regions affecting the herbs differently.

The drink sells well during summer, but there is particularly high demand in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Around the dinner table, or in the bazaars at the end of a day, a glass or two of chilled Rooh Afza — the smack of its sugar and flavors — can inject life.

“During the summer, after a long and hot day of fasting, one becomes more thirsty than hungry,” said Faqir Muhammad, 55, a porter in Karachi, Pakistan. “To break the fast, I directly drink a glass of Rooh Afza after eating a piece of date to gain some energy.”

In Bangladesh, the brand’s marketing goes beyond flavor and refreshments and into the realms of the unlikely and the metaphysical.

“Our experts say Rooh Afza helps Covid-19-infected patients, helps remove their physical and mental weakness,” Amirul Momenin Manik, the deputy director of Hamdard Bangladesh, said without offering any scientific evidence. “Many people in Bangladesh get heavenly feelings when they drink Rooh Afza, because we brand this as a halal drink.”

During a visit to Rooh Afza’s India factory in April, which coincided with Ramadan, workers in full protective gowns churned out 270,000 bottles a day. The sugar, boiled inside huge tanks, was mixed with fruit juices and the distillation of more than a dozen herbs and flowers, including chicory, rose, white water lily, sandalwood and wild mint.

At the loading dock in the back, from dawn to dusk, two trucks at a time were loaded with more than a 1,000 bottles each and sent off to warehouses and markets across India.

Mr. Ahmed — who runs Hamdard’s food division, for which Rooh Afza remains the central product — is trying to broaden a mature brand with offshoots to attract consumers who have moved away from the sherbet in their teenage and young adult years. New products include juice boxes that mix Rooh Afza with fruit juice, a Rooh Afza yogurt drink and a Rooh Afza milkshake.

Riaz Haq said...

Beyond #Punjabi Red #Curry: New generation of cooks lifts lid on #India’s diverse #cuisine as regional recipes come out of the shadows. via @YahooNews

By Charukesi Ramadurai

“Cook and See” is just one of several community cookbooks from the decades when modern life began to displace multiple generations of women sharing the kitchen and dispensing wisdom as they prepared family meals. Through these books, the authors offered glimpses into their lives. For example, “Time & Talents Club Recipe Book” (1935) – packed with 2,000 recipes by a variety of contributors, sold as a fundraiser, and republished six times – is still held as the beacon for Parsi cooking, a meat-rich cuisine shaped by influences from Persia, where the community comes from, and from Gujarat, the Indian state they first called home in India. “Rasachandrika” (1943) by Ambabai Samsi featured recipes from the Saraswat Brahmin community on the western Konkan coast.

These cookbooks by homemakers for homemakers were compilations of not only recipes but also practical information – from essential cooking to festival rituals and home remedies for common ailments. Each community in India had, and still has, its own unique ingredients, techniques, recipes, and eating rituals, and these collections ensured this knowledge was passed down through the generations.

Somewhere in the late 1980s, however, Indian cuisine began to be seen and represented globally and nationally as one homogeneous curried red mass. Perhaps it was because the flavors of garlic naan and chicken tikka masala (a dish most Indians have never heard of) traveled well across continents and palates, or perhaps because the Punjabi people successfully managed to showcase their cuisine wherever they went. But the result was that representations of Indian food were cleaved into two neat south and north divisions as far as restaurant cooking was concerned. Regional cuisines and their cookbooks began to be relegated to the kitchens of more discerning home chefs or they were carried abroad by Indian students dreaming of their mother’s culinary creations.

But regional Indian cuisine is being rediscovered and celebrated once again through trendy pop-up brunches and specialty restaurants. More important, a growing number of regional cookbook writers are publishing new cookbooks, complete with easy but largely unknown recipes and glossy photographs highlighting regional spices, legumes, millets, oils, and grains.

“We have begun looking inwards rather than taking our cues from the West on what to eat,” says food writer Rushina Munshaw-Ghildiyal, referring to the recent Indian craze for kale and quinoa. “Now many of us are interested again in local ingredients, and are curious about how other people in our country eat.” And like their predecessors, these books offer glimpses of hidden cultures – culinary and otherwise – to a larger audience.

Take for instance, Lathika George’s book “The Suriani Kitchen” (2009). It is a rich repository of recipes from the small community of Syrian Christians in Kerala, whose cuisine is known for its extensive use of meat and seafood as well as coconut and local spices such as black pepper. It also serves as a cultural explainer – from typical community Christmas rituals to unique utensils, such as mann chatti (mud pots). Similarly, “Five Morsels of Love” by Archana Pidathala (2016) is a compilation of heirloom recipes from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, known for its extensive use of fiery, red chili, and the plethora of dry chutneys and spice powders. The more recent “Pangat, a Feast: Food and Lore from Marathi Kitchens” (2019) by Saee Koranne-Khandekar documents the versatility of cuisine from the various communities within the state of Maharashtra.

Riaz Haq said...

Meet the pair behind one of #SanFrancisco Bay Area's growing #Indian pizza chains. Curry Pizza House opened its first restaurant in #Fremont. Recently, the pair opened their 11th Curry Pizza House in San Ramon. via @SFGate

The transition from his tech job to running a restaurant wasn’t simple, but Romy says he was willing to learn the ropes. Gursewak, who always had a streak of independence, liked being a truck driver but he also wanted to be a businessman. He eventually put truck driving on hold to study business administration at Chabot College. Fast forward to the present, Gursewak and Romy can be found at one of their store locations most days where they oversee pizza production or prepare the pies themselves.

Gursewak Gill was visiting his in-laws in Canada when something suddenly clicked. Throughout the trip, pizza was for dinner most nights and Gursewak often found himself sprucing up the pies with a mix of green chilies, ginger, garlic and a blend of Indian spices. Before he knew it, his curiosity would be the stepping stone to his mini-chain Indian pizza empire, Curry Pizza House.

“When we came back [to California] I started experimenting at the house and adding Indian spices ... to make it more flavorful. Curry Pizza House was born from that point,” Gursewak said.

Since 2015, Curry Pizza House has taken up shop throughout the Bay Area with its first outpost in Fremont. Earlier this month, Gursewak and his business partner Gurmail “Romy” Gill (of no relation) opened a store in San Ramon, marking their 11th Curry Pizza House location, with more locations on the way in Texas.

Just before Gursewak and Romy became business partners in 2013, Gursewak founded Bombay Pizza House. After some thought, they deciding to form a restaurant model focused on curries inspired by their family recipes, eventually rebranding to Curry Pizza House.

"We want to be hands-on all the time to make sure that our customers get good quality, spicy food all the time,” Gursewak said.

The restaurants offer pizzas that highlight Indian ingredients, like the chicken tikka pizza and shahi paneer pizza, among others. Romy says there’s something for everyone on the menu because, in addition to the craft curry pizzas, they also sell classic American pies like combination and Hawaiian, with vegan and gluten-free options also on hand.

Curry Pizza House is among a small group of pizzerias slinging Indian pies around the bay. Among one of the most recognizable Indian pizzerias is Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine, which has been a San Francisco staple since 1986. Zante Pizza, owned by Dalvinder Multani, is widely believed among its devoted customer base to be the first restaurant to create Indian pizza.

“A lot of people ask me: 'Do they have pizza like this in India?'" Multani told Vice in 2015. "No! That was only born here. That happens only here."

While the origins of Indian pizza are open for debate, its immediate success is not. When Gursewak thinks about Indian pizza, he likens it to dipping warm naan into butter chicken or different curry sauces. The depth of flavors Indian pizza delivers were a hit with Bay Area locals, and since the 1980s other local Indian pizzerias have opened up shop such as Golden Gate Indian Cuisine & Pizza in San Francisco and Pizza & Curry in Fremont.

Gursewak and Romy, who are both native to India, moved to Fremont in the mid-1990s, where they attended high school. Their trajectory into the pizza business wasn’t a straight path. Romy had been employed at DELL as a program manager for 15 years, while Gursewak worked at a truck driver with an intent to run a trucking business. Romy admits that he never wanted to be an engineer despite getting his degree in electronic and mechanical engineering at the now shuttered ITT in Hayward.