Karachi, the City of Lights and the heart of Pakistan, is one of the largest cities In the world. It won’t be wrong to call it ‘the City that Never Sleeps’. As a cosmopolitan city, the hustle of the city during the daytimes is prominent. Whereas night times are purposed for events like wedding ceremonies, dine outs, and visits at homes. So basically every part of the day gives Karachiites reasons to enjoy its delectable foods. Students going out for breakfast, colleagues for lunch, friends for high tea, and families for dinner depict the liveliness of this city. Even late at night one will find many dhabbas open serving tea and snacks. Now and then, a particular food or dish becomes the talk of the city. Most of these constitute variations of previously loved foods such as Nalli Biryani, Pizza fries, Matka Kulfi, Charsi Karahi or Chullu kebabs to name a few. Let’s take a look at the dishes considered as the 5 best street foods in Karachi.
Biryani and Nalli Biryani: When it comes to food, Biryani has a special place in every Karachiites heart. Be it a small event, wedding ceremony, birthday or dinner party, or a mighty feast or festival, Biryani remains the most beloved main course dish. There are Biryani vendors or hotels at every commercial/food street so it’s incredibly easy to satiate the crave no matter where you are and the prices are almost always pocket-friendly. It is made with a variety of ingredients. It could be beef, mutton, or chicken biryani and can be made with variances including Hyderabadi, Sindhi, or Bombay, etc. There has been a new variation called ‘Nalli Biryani’ that has been taking the city by storm. It is made with marrow bones instead of meat. The nutrient-rich bone marrow makes it a yummy yet healthy food option. It was first introduced in a local restaurant a couple of years ago, was tried by someone, and got posted on a Facebook page, and from there on it became the talk of the city. Since then everyone has been trying and recommending it. It has become a trademark of Karachi.
Gola Ganda: Karachi is infamous for its hot climate. Summers here receive scorching heat and high levels of humidity. It’s even called ‘the city of two summers’ as the high temperatures return later in October. One of the popular ways to beat the heat is to have an icy treat of Gola Ganda. Although it can be found pretty much all around the city, there are a couple of famous streets known for their plenty of gola ganda carts and jam-packed line-ups. This icy treat consists of shaved ice drenched in fruit-flavoured syrups, sometimes topped with fruits and condensed milk. The coolness of the ice and the refreshing tangy and fruity flavours are what all Karachiites look towards to restore their energy levels in the summers. As the daytimes in winter remain somewhat warm in Karachi, people don’t mind having it in the winters as well. This makes it a favourite treat here all year long.
Bun Kebabs: Bun kebabs, though famous across India, Pakistan, and even U.A.E, abide by Karachi’s claim to fame. It’s a no new delicacy, and has been around since ages, with generations relishing it equally. It is usually eaten as a main course or a snack. What makes it so special and true in its desi spirits is it’s amalgamation of lentils, cumin seeds, red chillies, onions, tomatoes, and chutney and several other traditional spices, with chutney giving it the peculiar taste. A single bite of this ‘desi burger’ tantalizes the senses and each bite leaves one wanting more. It is favoured at lunch and dinner times, preferably outdoors, along with friends or families gathering at hotels and enjoying chats and Bun Kebabs by the roadside.
Nihari: Nihari usually goes in for a hearty breakfast. It is filling, dense, and an energy-boosting food. The word ‘Nihari’ comes from the Arabic word which means ‘morning’. So the name itself suggests it as a food consumed in the morning. Its origin dates back to the era of the Mughal empire. It was cooked all night and Nawabs were said to have it for their breakfasts after their morning prayers. Its distinction includes its method of cooking. It is cooked for about six hours on low flame, to infuse all the essence and flavours of spices and the goodness of meat. Cooked so, the meat becomes so tender that it literally melts in the mouth. It can be made with beef or chicken but it is traditionally made with mutton. It has whole wheat flour as its base, giving it that stretchy texture. Karachiites complement it with fresh coriander leaves, chopped green chilies, julienne ginger, fried onion and dash of lemon juice. Famous Nihari points in Karachi are crowded throughout the day with dine-ins and take-aways. Here is a fun fact: Nihari has been also used as an effective remedy for cough and cold by hakims, as the proteins found in the broth (that makes up the base of Nihari, after meat being cooked in it for so long) have strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Matka Kulfi: This rich and creamy dessert is well-known among the Karachiites. It is a variation of the usual kulfi. Kulfi is made by evaporating sweetened and flavoured milk on a low heat, is then poured in moulds and frozen. However, Matka kulfi varies in such that it is frozen in earthen clay pots, and consumed within them, giving it a clayey aroma. It is also available In different flavours with the traditional ones being malai, saffron, cardamom, crunch, and pistachio. Some vendors also offer fruit flavoured Matka kulfis such as Mango, Strawberry, and orange. Many vendors sell Matka Kulfi along the busy streets and food streets of Karachi. It is also served at different events. Ceremonies, weddings, and other occasions frequently include it in the menu. Anyone visiting Karachi must make sure to not miss any of these mouth-watering specialties of the city, as these are out-and-out the best street foods of Karachi!
Haleem: This dish is an ever-green adoration in Karachi. Its origin is linked to Arabic cuisine. It is popular in Middle East, Asia and the Indian continent but the taste that Karachi offers is not easy to find everywhere. The famous Haleem hotels in Karachi are filled up throughout the day. The wheat, barley, lentils, and meat make Haleem a high-calorie dish. The cooking process of this dish is strenuous but is undoubtedly worthy. The wheat, barley and lentils are soaked overnight. Then these are cooked along with meat till ready. Then the main part involves beating it heavily with a traditional manual blender till paste-like consistency is achieved. It is served with julienne ginger, green chilies, fried onion, lemon juice, and coriander leaves toppings. Due to its texture it is eaten with a spoon as well as with a naan, both ways savoured equally.