True Origins of Pakistan’s Popular Foods


Who knew that the pride of Pakistani foods and the most beloved dish across the country is not our own invention. Shocking, aint it? Biryani originated in Turkey, according to research by However, some historians claim Biryani was invented in Persia. Others claim that it was invented in the Indian subcontinent. Yes, qualified historians went and did some research on Biryani, because it is THAT important and don’t you forget it.

While Biryani might have been invented elsewhere, Pakistanis have perfected it and we are happy to claim it as our own. Also as a side note, Lahori Biryani is not Biryani *Drops Mic*.



Ah, the favorite drink of Pakistanis and quite possibly the whole world. Any tea lover should know the origin of Chai. Shame on you if you didn’t. While Pakistanis drink tea like drug addicts, it originally hails from China. Here is a round of applause for China for introducing the world to its very first, completely legal, approved by parents and widely accepted addiction. Now the question is whether word Chai came first or the word China. Also if that Chinese woman in Shan’s ad would have brought over Tea, it would have made a lot more sense. Attention Tea brands, make an Ad like that and give me credit.

PS: I hate chai.



Who doesn’t love Samosas? Anyone that says they don’t, shall face the wrath of the keyboard warriors. So how did Samosas infiltrate Pakistan? Middle East. Yes that’s right, they just might be no.3 of the most popular import by the Middle East to Pakistan. First and second being trained terrorists and proxy wars. Just like terrorist vests filled with explosives, these little hot pockets filled with potatoes or meat explode with flavor in your mouth rather than in the local Mosques and markets.

Samosa is said to have originated in Middle East in the vicinity of Persia. It has been mentioned as early as the 10th Century AD. The word “samosa” comes from a Persian word ‘sanbosag’. In 13th or 14th century AD, Samosas were introduced to the Indian Subcontinent by Persian traders.



One of the staple breads of Pakistan and found in every damn shaadi ever. Naans are also immigrants that we wouldn’t want to deport from Pakistan unlike Afghanis. Persians invented this bread and now they have become a must have for dawaats everywhere. Also, since we have a penchant for tweaking and innovation, we have come a long way. We have introduced Garlic Naan, Cheese Naan and a lot others. There is even a restaurant dedicated to innovative Naan, Cloud Naan.



Again, a dessert hailing from Middle East, Persia specifically. Jalebi is a widely-loved dessert in Pakistan. ‘Jalebi’ has been derived from Zulabiya, an Arabic word.  Jalebi’s earliest mention can be found in a Jain book named Jinasura. Even wonder why Pakistanis like Jalebi so much? Because Pakistanis are the perfect representation of the idiom, ‘Jalebi ki tarah seedha’!


Chicken Tikka:

So even the succulent and spicy Chicken Tikka isn’t originally ours. So where did it originate from? Persia as always. Maybe they were like those friendly neighbors that brought over food all the time, like that Chinese lady from the famous Shan ad. While chicken tikka is relatively mild in Persia, we like it as hot as Karachi’s summer.


Gulab Jamun:

Gulab Jamun, arguably the favorite sweet of Pakistanis, hails from Persia yet again. Gulab Jamun is like a kid that you know is adopted due to his non-resemblance to the parents. But we love it none the less. Michael Krondl, a culinary historian claims that gulab jamun has been derived from Luqmat al-qadi which is a Persian dish. Both dishes have rose water syrup and resemble each other. Regardless of wherever it came from, Gulab Jamun has made its home in the hearts of Pakistanis and is here to stay.


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True Origins of Pakistan’s Popular Foods

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