Eating at the family table in another country can sometimes lead to some embarrassing moments when you don’t fully understand the habits that everyone else sees as commonplace. These common eating habits are learnt over time, usually from childhood and depend completely on where in the world you are born.
There are certain eating habits that you may find unusual if you ever find yourself eating with a Pakistani family on your travels. Let’s take a look at a few:
In England we are taught from a young age to eat with a knife and fork and are discouraged from eating with our hands, but things are quite different across the rest of the world. In Pakistan, as well as across most of Asia, knives and forks are not the norm; instead, people eat most of their food with their hands.
Not only is it simpler and cheaper than having a collection of cutleries, there is also major religious, cultural and traditional significance to eating with your hands. Eating with his hands was one of the humble acts performed by the Prophet Muhammad and is why most Muslims carry on the act today. Most Indians use their hands at mealtimes too, something that has carried on past the partition of the two countries – many traditions and cultures have remained between India and Pakistan to this day.
No matter the time of day or what’s on the menu, you will struggle to find a meal that doesn’t come with a side of roti or chawal (rice) or even both. Roti comes in so many varieties, shapes and sizes so even though you can eat it with every meal you will never get bored of it.
Whilst some cultures treat their sweet treats as an occasional indulgence, in Pakistan they love their puddings so much that no meal is complete without a dessert at the end. And unlike other cultures, there is no break between your main course and dessert; instead, your sweet will arrive quickly once everyone has finished eating the main course. Pakistanis love their desserts so much that at some tables you will find three or four different desserts as a minimum.
Coffee is now the drink of choice to finish a meal and whilst we love a good brew in the UK we rarely finish a big meal with one. In Pakistan, however, no meal is complete without a cup of chai; whether it is a black tea, green tea, Kashmiri pink tea or a doodh patti, everyone will finish a meal with a chat over a nice hot cup of tea.
You can experience authentic Pakistani cuisine right here at Royal Nawaab’s halal restaurant in London.