December 14, 2018
If you’re ever planning on visiting another country on holiday, one of the major things people research beforehand is; ‘What is the national dish?’.
We all love to try the local cuisine when we travel, but the national dish isn’t always easy to find. In actual fact, most people tend to confuse the national dish with the dish a country is most well-known for. When people think of Japan, for example, sushi is generally the first food that comes to mind; but sushi isn’t the national dish of Japan, as it is isn’t eaten regularly enough by locals. Japan’s most consumed dish is either ramen or donburi, with sushi being reserved for special occasions and the fact it is quite expensive prices out a lot of people form eating it regularly.
The same goes for Pakistan; people often mistake foods that the country is well-known for as being the national dish. Biryani is a dish that most people think of when they think about Pakistan, but in Pakistan itself, biryani is limited to certain areas of Pakistan, and is actually seen as an elite meal that excludes a large portion of the population.
With Pakistan being such a vast and diverse country, it is possible to narrow down a national dish? With biryani out of the way, which other dishes are popular enough across the whole of Pakistan to be crowned the winner?
To become a national dish, the recipe has to be popular in households rather than just restaurants. With most eating done at home, if it isn’t a regular at the family table then it doesn’t stand a chance of the title.
Nihari is a strong contender due to the fact that it is so popular outside of Pakistan, but we have to take a long hard look at how the dish is eaten inside of Pakistan. Nihari is fairly restricted to the major cities within Pakistan, which therefore means it also loses out as the nations favourite dish.
Aloo Gosht is also out of the window due to the price. Meat is an expensive commodity to be enjoyed on rare occasions by large parts of the population, so unfortunately, it too cannot be called the national dish.
So then surely the dish would have to be a vegetarian one? The first that jumps to mind would obviously be daal and roti. And if you look at certain regions, such as the northern Punjab area, then daal and roti would probably be the stand out dish. Across the rest of the country, however, daal and roti simply isn’t eaten in as much quantity. Due to the changing prices of ingredients in Pakistan, areas where daal and roti would have been eaten almost daily have now been demoted in place of other more preferred ingredients.
So, with biryani, nihari and daal out of the picture, what could possibly be named as the national dish of Pakistan?
It may not be the most exciting dish, yet saag and roti may well clinch the mantle of national dish due to its immense popularity across the whole of Pakistan. Although it may seem a shame to some that such a simple dish be named as the national dish of choice over other more tempting options, maybe simplicity is its finest quality and fitting that in a country of such fine and varied cuisine, such a simple and consistent dish as saag and roti should triumph.
Visit Royaal Nawaab’s halal restaurant in London today to try some of Pakistan’s greatest cuisine and maybe you can decide for yourself what you would crown as Pakistan’s national dish.