Going to Lahore? You must try these treats!

Published: November 14, 2012
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The karahi is served in the karahi pan with fresh roti or naan, whichever you prefer. Highly recommended dish. A delightful treat. PHOTO: AREESH ZUBAIR

These paratha rolls are very economical and easy on your wallet type of fast food with the addiction of amazing taste. PHOTO: AREESH ZUBAIR There must be around half a dozen kebab shops in Model Town’s Market, D-block. PHOTO: AREESH ZUBAIR The karahi is served in the karahi pan with fresh roti or naan, whichever you prefer. Highly recommended dish. A delightful treat. PHOTO: AREESH ZUBAIR The specialty of the karahi is the ‘butter” it's cooked in. PHOTO: AREESH ZUBAIR In the late hours of the night, half the road is used by these restaurants: “Butt Karahi Tikka”, “New Butt Karahi Tikka”, “Bhatti Krahi Tikka”, “New Bhatti Karahi Tikka”. PHOTO: AREESH ZUBAIR

There is a phenomenon which might not be unique to Lahore but is indeed found at its beautiful best in Lahore ─ the food clusters. Due to the healthy competition in such clusters the quality of food is so good that it is often impossible to decide which one is the best. 

So let me enlighten you with a few such clusters and their mouthwatering speciality so that the next time you visit these places, you know exactly where to go and what will satiate your appetite.

Laskhmi Chowk: Karahi Tikka

To limit Lakshmi Chowk to one particular food item may be considered unfair. However, one cannot help but notice a line of restaurants called “Karahi Tikka” located on McLeod Road. In the late hours of the night, half the space on the road is used by these restaurants. ‘Butt Karahi Tikka’, ‘New Butt Karahi Tikka’, ‘Bhatti Karahi Tikka’, ‘New Bhatti Karahi Tikka’; you get the picture, don’t you?

Karahi tikka, for the record, is karahi gosht prepared in tikka style masala, without much gravy. What you’d find special about these places is that you have the option to choose the chicken you’d like to eat (or the piece of mutton that you’d like to have), have it weighed raw and then get it cooked for yourself!.

The option of getting broiler or desi chicken is also available. The speciality of the karahi is the butter it’s cooked in. You can not only choose to have the ‘makhni karahi’, but you can also decide the quantity of butter in it (get it weighed, and have it put in your food!).

Finally, the karahi is served in the karahi pan with fresh roti or naan – whichever you prefer. I highly recommend this dish as it is an absolutely delightful treat.

Which one is the best of the lot you may wonder now?  By my experience, I would have to say  ‘Butt Karahi Tikka’.

(Dessert tip: Don’t miss ‘firni ki thoothion ke joday’ (rice pudding in pairs of clay plates) from Abbot Road on your way back.)

Model Town: Bhaiyya Kebab

There must be around half a dozen kebab shops in Model Town’s Market, D-block. More than one of these shops claim to be the only authentic kebab shop. From my experience, the kebabs are delicious regardless of their authenticity.

Small pieces of beef kebab with that imli (tamarindsauce are as delicious as as food can get. Don’t order less than a dozen per person I’d say. Kebabs taste amazing with parathas however naan is not a bad choice either. Chances are that due to the amazing taste of the food, you’ll end up overeating. Hence, they have been considerate enough to have made available large glasses of fresh water soda (which would dance for you once you put some salt in it).

Again, to state which one is the best of all would be tough, but due to its comfortable seating arrangement and environment, ‘Siddique Kebab Shop’ is where I like to go.

If you’re there in winters, which, by the way, is the best time to be there, you must have Kashmiri tea from one of the tea stalls in the market.

Purani Anarkali: Falooda

The two names that come to mind are ‘Yousuf and Riaz Falooda’ but there are a few other shops as well for your convenience. Dairy desserts are at their best here; you can have falooda, rasmalai or rabri wala doodh and many more delicious desserts.

With falooda you’ll get the options of free extra toppings of rabri, sweetner and ice cream to make your custom bowl as per your choice of taste. The ideal time to go there is after dinner when the markets have closed down and sitting on the roadside chairs is a little easier. Otherwise, you can always stand on the side of the road or sit in your car and enjoy the exquisite taste of these desserts.

A walk on the ‘Purani Anarkali’ (food street) before or after the treat is definitely recommended just because its a wholly different experience in its own.

Liberty Market: Paratha Kebab

Once you turn you car in the street beside the flower shops in the Liberty Market, you’d be bombarded with hawkers and waiters from the ‘Karachi -dash- Paratha Roll’.

The dash can be filled by ‘Silver Spoon’, ‘Golden Spoon’, ‘Red Rock’ and so on. Paratha rolls of various kinds are available; some with traditional chutneys, others with not-so-desi sauces like garlic sauce and mayonnaise. These rolls are very economical and easy on your wallet, but the taste is never compromised for the affordability.

I have not been able to decide which one amongst them is the best because I am yet to have a bad experience with any of the roll joints at Liberty. You may buy your meal on the basis of how nice the waiter approaching you is.

An offshoot of this paratha roll competition has emerged in H-Block, DHA, as well.

In the street beside the flower shops is ‘Iqbal Tea House’, a khoka or canteen, so to speak. Chai or doodh patti from there, preferably while sitting in the park, is something I’ve always enjoyed. So don’t hesitate to try it after you’ve indulged in your paratha rolls.

Gol Gappay

Outside the gates of Baghe Jinnah are a few gol gappay stalls. Also, lately a cluster of gol gappay vendors has emerged on canal road, between Dharampura Underpass and Mughalpura Underpass. They sell various types of gol gappay – the variety factor being the different kinds of fillings inside them.

Due to the water used in the the khatta paani, I would ask you to try it at your own risk, if you must; the water may or may not be as sanitary as one would hope. For myself, it works just fine and I have not had any problems so far.

So this was a run down of some really great and popular food clusters that one must try at least once in their lives, if in Lahore. If you think I’ve missed any significant cluster (for example dahi bhallay, tikkay, qulfi), do let me know. We love to spread the awareness when its about pleasing our taste buds!

Read more by Aleem here or follow him on Twitter @aleemzubair

 

Muhammad.Aleem.Zubair

Muhammad Aleem Zubair

A chartered accountant in Lahore who loves cricket, food, poetry and music . He holds expertise in Auditing & Business Advisory, teaches and conducts corporate training every now and then. He tweets @aleemzubair (twitter.com/aleemzubair)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Zubair Ali

    One of the many reasons why I Love Pakistan!!! The best food in the world!!! :DRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Wow these places are absolutely FILTHY. What happened to cleanliness and hygiene? Recommend

  • Adil

    wow!!!!im already starving, even though had a heavy lunch!
    excellent piece….very informative
    @noman…sir the food is truely amazing and hygienicRecommend

  • ss

    @Noman Ansari:
    you should go to McDonanlds :pRecommend

  • Parvez

    Have heard so much about the fish……………but no mention by you.Recommend

  • http://707monty.blogspot.com Pakistan Politics

    Lhr is the best place for food and hanging out with friendsRecommend

  • http://www.hometownshoes.com Waqas Ali

    Don’t forget to try BALOCHI SAJJI from The Deera Restaurant.Recommend

  • Fazal Abbas

    Excellent piece ! This will be published in “Impressions” soon as well :DRecommend

  • Talal

    Nyc!!!!Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Parvez:
    Thanks for pointing that out. Agreed. Sardar, Basheer and Siddique Fish are missing. May be in another blog. Recommend

  • ss

    @Waqas Ali:
    Had Bloch Sajji last sunday not in Dera Restaurant but somewhere else, and it was delicious, don’t know what spices they use but it was really yummmmRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @ss:

    LOL!

    No I would rather risk going to the doctor. =D Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/908/erum-naqvi/ Erum

    sardar ki machhli is amazing too :D :D though i had it 3 years bak.. dont know whether it is still available or not :(Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/908/erum-naqvi/ Erum

    and yeah, cuckoo’s den is a MUST MUST try too.. their tawa chicken is heavenly to say the least!Recommend

  • Powderi

    Do any one of you ever had Makhni Chiken Karai at Charsi Tikka. Best thing at Charsi Tikka they will offer you one cigarette full of charis with one Karai. Recommend

  • I.

    Mouth-watering stuff!Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Erum:
    Sardar is still there. Infact, at Gawalmandi Chowk, from where the original outlet was, there are a few ‘Sardars’ now. And I think still everyone says ‘Hamari koi aur branch nahien hai’. Recommend

  • Ali Syed

    The paratha roll shops that u mentioned are closed now and shifted to other place,

    @Powderi . .where is this Charsi Tikka shop?? Wanna try it :pRecommend

  • GG

    Behtreen meray bhai!

    but no mention of Taj Mehal’s breakfast, Cream Dahi Bhallay of Beadon Road, Siri Paye of Fazal e Haq and last but not ACHANAK Biriyani of Samanabad.

    Posting from Dubai, by the way.Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/areeshzubair Areesh Zubair

    yes…! agreed to most of the people about the fish and few other food clusters in Lahore.. and quite frankly all of the Lahore’s food clousters can not bhe coverd in one bolg.. I recomend Mr Aleem to write another blog covering rest of the amazing Lahori food. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/AreeshZubair Areesh Zubair

    yes..!! agree with people about the fish and few other food clusters in Lahore.. and quite frankly all of the Lahore’s food clusters can not be covered in one blog.. (not to forget, its Lahore and its food we are talking about)

    I highly recommend Mr Aleem to write another blog covering rest of the amazing Lahori food.Recommend

  • Fazal Abbas

    So Aleem as your all friends have commented on the blog, when are we getting treat? Can be any of this place :pRecommend

  • sulman

    Nice photography Mr. AreeshRecommend

  • Salman Shafique

    Nice photography Mr. Areesh
    Lakshmi chowk is one of those places in Lahore where you can find many things to around the clock. However karahi tikka is for sure the most notable dish among othersuRecommend

  • Doc. Sahib

    @Noman Ansari: doctor hazr, go eat the above and stop whining like a foreigner.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Powderi: It’s seldom I get a good laugh now-a-days from ET, but this was hilarious – of course you’re joking because if you’re not then its then its doubly funny. Recommend

  • The Khan

    My favorite place: lahore. Recommend

  • T

    I’m so missing Lahore…. :(Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Ali Syed: They were indeed shifted on encroachment charges and a few of them shifted to Ahad Center (half a km away) but now they are back. They are very much back. Been there! Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @GG:
    Thanks for pointing that out. The places you’ve mentioned are indeed great. However, not all of them are in clusters of their own. For example Taj Mahal stands proudly alone and distinct however Siri Paye is a cluster.Recommend

  • Umair

    @Noman Ansari:
    You always come up with complains either it is for Karahi Tikka, Bhaiyya Kebab or McDonalds.Recommend

  • Human

    @Umair:
    Its his wish whether he likes these type of food or not .
    BUT after watching a documentary on what type of oils are being used,. how they get the oils from dead animals etc etc no way wud anyone feel like having all the above mentioned yummy treats Recommend

  • Human

    @Doc. Sahib:

    Its good to stay healthy Doctor sahib as these days we cannot trust the DOCTORS Recommend

  • Human

    @Erum:
    us ki machi haye haye , what oil is he frying it in haye haye ?
    how many times did he use that oil haye haye haye Recommend

  • Human

    Pakistani Lahore slaughter houses selling oil made from dead …

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEFuu1YhQ9YRecommend

  • Bisma

    want to go to Lahore now! :DRecommend

  • Dar_Power

    i have read the article 100 hundred times and each time it gave me a different meaning. Hats off to the writer. I do not know the writer but i have developed a deep sense of respect for this gentleman.

    PS: for your next article, please consider the topic “Lahore and its food – a delight”. i m sure, you will do wonders!Recommend

  • http://businessinsights.pk Sarwan Muzzafar

    I love to be in Lahore on the Basant season, but unfortunately my job not allowing me to be there at the time of Basant. I really miss my old days when I was free from all the responsibilities.Recommend

  • Nouman

    You forget “Gogay kay Channay”Recommend

  • Ali

    thats greatRecommend

  • pedopopatt

    Pakistan has anything vegetarian food to write about…..How come one can enjoy eating non-veg food for 24/7×365.I just dont get it. Recommend

  • Majid

    1) Arif Tawwa Chicken (right next door to Phajja) in Heera Mandi
    2) Khan Baba karahi in Chauburji – Desi murgh and desi ghee. Full monty!Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Sarwan Muzzafar:
    Well the basant part, we miss too. Although, Jashn e Baharaan in Lahore is still beautiful.

    @Dar_Power:
    Thanks alot sir. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Nouman: Yes, you are right in pointing that out. We the Lahorites love chanay and there are several names: Goga Naqeebia, Shahi Murgh Chanay, Tooba etc

    @pedopopatt: This is the way it is, yes. But chanay, haleem, qalandri daal chawal etc are a few good examples of vegetarian treats. Our vegetarian food is mostly limited to household cooking (not dining out). Recommend

  • pedopopatt(mecca)

    I cant tolerate smell of anything non-veg .I will puke on it.Recommend

  • http://www.risingkarachi.blogspot.com Nouman Ahmed

    Here there everywhere is Lahore on ETRecommend

  • Ahsan

    Excellent article: well researched and highlights some of the best eating places in Lahore. Look forward to other articles by aleem… Recommend

  • Aviator

    Lahore food is the best in the world! I really miss it! Thankfully in London there are a large number of Lahore restaurants, but still no substitute to a actually being in Lahore! :)Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Ahsan:
    Thanks.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    Truly a mouth watering article. You sound (or write?) like a guy with a good taste in food!Recommend

  • Ali

    @pedopopatt(mecca):

    Well don’t come here then! no one is forcibly bringing you here are they? If you can’t take meat thats not our fault is it? Recommend

  • NQ

    Zubair brother….ur blog has made me desperate to go again to Lahore ( i wish i can now ) the last time i eat falooda from purani anarkali was in 2010… plz add more food blogs Lahore is place of Eat and Happy :) Recommend

  • Mehreen

    It really was an awesome read.. hope there is a sequel to it..Recommend

  • Amna

    Thanks for this article!!! Amazing! Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Amna:
    @Mehreen:
    @NQ:
    Thank you. There indeed is a lot about Lahore’s food to write about.Recommend

  • Hassan

    @ Ali Syed Charsi Tikka is in Peshawar, Namak Mandi, really yummy food ans you will always have the smell of chars but i am not sure that it is provided by the resturant staff or guest bring it with them, complete name of resturant is Nisar Charsi Tikka house.
    must try it if you happen to go to Peshawar.Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Author

    A well written piece.
    Can you write a similar one on Karachi?
    Lahore be ready. I am coming this weekend.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/aleemzubair Aleem

    @Cynical:
    I haven’t lived in Karachi so I don’t consider myself an expert on that. But the next time I go there, I could write about it from a visitor’s perspective!
    And if you need any help or guidance while you are in Lahore, do let me know.Recommend

  • ahsan

    Article was good but still alot is missing .. you might need 3. or 4 more articles to completely cover the food places around and in lahore.

    but still a good effort my friendRecommend

  • Salman

    @pedopopatt(mecca):
    Enjoy your Genetically modified veggies.Recommend