Flavours of Pakistan

For today’s recipe, I am going for one ultra delicious curry from Pakistan.

The funniest thing is; for a very long time, I had thought Indian and Pakistani food were one and the same! Simply because the namings are the same, and the overall flavour range, for my then inexperienced palate, were almost identical. The look of the food, the colours, the aromas… all were one to me! With time, especially once my palate got a little more used to the heat – which was the only thing I could experience at first! – I realised that the two cuisines are very different, each being unique and exquisite in different ways. I love both cuisines with passion, and at times find that no other food can put the crave to rest!

My flavour detectives always welcome the more delicate Indian curries, biryanis, and grills. There is a soothing side to the creaminess, the aroma and the melt in your mouth quality. However the bolder, spicier, perfumed quality of Pakistani food fascinates me! The food is pungent, present and full of character. This is the type of food that demands your attention. One that has you wonder: what is in it? One that makes you think, how did these cooks come up with these flavour combinations? Then after all, leaves you thinking you had one heck of a meal!

This talk is reminding me of a chat I had with Saba Wahid, a Pakistani chef and presenter, who was telling me that “most people mistake Pakistani cuisine with Indian cuisine, which has resulted in Pakistani cuisine to become somewhat underrated. You hear many people describe an exquisite Indian meal, which by description turns out to be Pakistani!”. She was saying that “it is disappointing that due to this mix up Pakistani cuisine is not getting the attention it should be getting”. I could not agree more with her, because Pakistani food is one that should be acknowledged on its own. It is brilliant!

This chicken curry is delightful. I love it! I am not exactly the expert on Pakistani food, but I do know some tricks 😉 So this is my take on this Pakistani Chicken Curry. Do try it, here is how it’s made…


  • 4 Chicken Breasts, cubed
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups warm chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup rose water
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • Garlic & Ginger paste (see below)
  • 2-3 green or red chilies
  • 2 dried prunes, pitted and chopped extra fine
  • 1 coriander bunch, finely chopped
  • 3 small red onions, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 generous pinch saffron
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp aniseed
  • 1/2 tsp  black peppercorns


  • This is a light version of curry. Feel free to use ghee if you prefer.
  • Serve a classic Raita (recipe on this link) with this delicious curry, the flavours are heavenly together and it helps take the edge of the heat, especially if you do not add chilies to the sauce.
  • For best results use chicken on the bone, I have used cubed chicken breasts for a lighter version. The use of the cast iron Staub pot for cooking, allows the pieces to come out super tender.
  • The curry here is kept basic, but feel free to add some vegetables to it if you like. I have tried it with peas, with cauliflower, with pumpkin and they all work deliciously.
  • Try making this in a clay pot and see how deep the flavours go. Follow the same recipe, however cook in a heat resistant clay pot/bowl. Absolutely 100% improved and better. The meat turns out very tender in these pots too.

In a small bowl, mix together all the spices and set aside until ready to use.

Start by Marinating the chicken. In a medium bowl, mix together, the yogurt, salt, all the spices (except the saffron) and half the quantity of the chopped coriander. Mix all these ingredients well to combine. Add the Chicken cubes and mix to coat. cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to infuse.

In a small cup, soak the saffron in the rosewater. Set aside to infuse, until ready to use.

Make the ginger and garlic paste. Simply grate 1 inch peeled ginger root and place along with 5 garlic cloves and a sprinkling of salt in a mortar and beat the mixture with the pestle until it resembles a paste. Finely chop the chilies and add to the ginger and garlic paste. Mix well then set aside allowing the flavours to infuse.

In your the cooking pot, heat the cooking oil. Stir fry the sliced onions until lightly browned. remove the onions from the oil and set aside over kitchen towels to drain excess oil.

In the same oil, add the ginger and garlic paste and stir until they slightly change in colour, but do not brown. Add the marinated chicken pieces along with the remaining marinade. Stir fry until slightly browned. Add the bay leaf and chicken broth and stir to mix. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the saffron and rosewater, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer gently until the chicken is done and tender. Transfer to a serving bowl, or serve in the clay pot if using one. Sprinkle with chopped fresh coriander.


Let’s chat –

I had received this comment from Sisi (one of you guys, commenting on my Fattet Fool Akhdar recipe on this link) where she said:

“…my husband pointed out I couldn’t really expect culinary epiphanies in the ready-meal aisle at the local grocers.” 

I could not agree more with the statement above and felt I should bring this to your attention too! Thought to even elaborate on that so hear me out… Of course, our food judgement is based on the foods we eat. However, at times, the food we eat can be a very poor version of what it should taste like! Unfortunately, not all cooks prepare good tasting food, not all recipes are good recipes, and not all ingredients are good ingredients! Combine all poor elements in any dish and you have a disaster on your hand followed by fussy eating! Rightly, for the one trying that poorly prepared food for the first time, that’s it: “I don’t like…” and at times “I hate…” is the verdict. Just think when those who are trying are young palates or first timers… that is exactly how it becomes decided whether or not one likes a specific type of food or a specific ingredient…etc. Then try and convince that person that this food is actually good… a lost battle, from start to finish! We must keep an open mind when it comes to food, and try as many versions of any one dish before we give it our final judgement. You will be surprised how the same food can taste so terribly wrong, or so perfectly right, depending how it was prepared and what went into it.

As for the supermarket aisles, always remember that great food starts with the ingredients. I know I keep telling you that, but truly the difference between outstanding, mediocre and terrible lies in the quality of the basic ingredients then very slightly on the artistic abilities. Just think how some cuisines do nothing to food except respect the actual ingredient enough to not meddle much with it, but serve it only in a way that highlights it. Example? Burrata and tomatoes dressed with olive oil. Need I say more?

What is your take on all this?

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