Home to many bustling neighbourhoods with vibrant cultural traditions, Pakistan’s largest city is best known for its spicy and savoury delicacies among foodies around the world. As a megalopolis, Karachi’s population is based on multiracial people, belonging to different backgrounds who have settled here for a long time now. This factor has significantly contributed to the diversity of the city’s food culture, which has evolved over decades.
So, if you are also a gastronome who is planning to visit the City of Lights any time soon, then you have just made it to the right post. From Biryani to Nihari and Karachiites’ all-time favourite Bun Kababs, here we have listed down and discussed all the must-have desi food items in Karachi, which you could easily find on the menus of traditional dhabbas and road-side eateries in the metropolis.
Now, without any further ado, let’s get started with our ultimate food tour of Karachi!
9 Must-Have Desi Food Items in Karachi
These are the foods that you just can’t miss trying upon your visit to Karachi.
- Halwa Puri
- Chai and Paratha
- Bun Kabab
- Deep-fried Snacks
- BBQ Food
- Sea Food
A delicious combination of sweet and salty delicacies, Halwa Puri is one of the most famous breakfast platters in Pakistan. People in Karachi normally have this breakfast once or twice a week, mostly during the weekends.
Sunday is considered an ideal day among Karachiites for having this hearty breakfast meal. You could easily spot a long queue of people in front of almost every restaurant serving Halwa Puri in Karachi every Sunday morning.
Where to Find the Best Halwa Puri in Karachi?
There are tonnes of restaurants that serve Halwa Puri as breakfast in the City of Lights. Dhamthal Sweets, Bakers, and Nimco, which is located near Ayesha Manzil Chowrangi in Federal B. Area’s Block 7, is the most popular place in this regard. Owing to the increasing popularity, it has also started a doorstep delivery service for Halwa Puri across the city.
Chai and Paratha
Almost every other Karachiite falls for the combination of Chai and Paratha, which has become one of the most popular street food staples in the city lately. It is served in almost every corner of Karachi. This food combination is also regularly consumed by a large number of people in the city as breakfast.
Where to Find the Best Chai Paratha in Karachi?
Along with traditional roadside dhabbas, Chai and Paratha are now also served by many high-end cafes located in posh localities like Clifton and DHA in Karachi. These places usually have open-air seating arrangements, where groups of people can sit for hours after sunset. Chai Wala, Chotu Chai Wala, and Zam Zam Piyala Hotel are a few of the most popular cafes serving a large menu based on different types of teas and parathas in Karachi.
Your food tour of Karachi could never be complete without tasting ‘Bun Kabab’—the very famous age-old local delicacy. It remained the most preferred fast food among Karachiites for a very long time before burgers were introduced.
A bun kabab is actually a sandwich, which is based on a patty made with a combination of minced meat and egg. You can get it topped with different ingredients as per your taste. The most common seasonings for a Bun Kabab include chutney (made from tamarind, locally known as ‘imli’), tomato ketchup, and sliced onions.
Where to Find the Best Bun Kabab in Karachi?
Burns Road, which is the most iconic food street in Karachi, is best known for its delicious Bun Kababs. It has some of the oldest roadside restaurants with the most authentic Bun Kabab recipes in Karachi. Now, even many other restaurants across the city have started serving by the name “Burns Road ka Bun Kabab” but nothing can beat the original recipe served at Burns Road’s food street.
Karachi’s streets are also quite famous among foodies for serving a tantalizing variety of deep-fried snacks. The streets of the city are engulfed by the aromas of these savoury snacks every evening. From Samosas to Pakoras and Kachori, you will find all kinds of famous South Asian snacks served on the roadside food stalls in Karachi. The trend of deep-fried snacks goes at an all-time high during Ramadan as a majority of Karachiites usually have such food items in Iftar.
Where to Find the Best Deep-fried Snacks in Karachi?
There are literally thousands of eateries and food stalls serving deep-fried snacks in Karachi. However, the name of Khatri Food Spot is quite popular in this regard. Their branches are located in different parts of the city including DHA, Clifton, and Gulistan-e-Jauhar. For the convenience of people, this popular eatery in Karachi also provides a home delivery service.
Our list of the must-have desi food items in Karachi is incomplete without mentioning Biryani. It’s spicy, tangy, and filling. The dish perfectly reflects the flavours of Karachi. People of all ages like having Biryani in Karachi.
A majority of the working class in the city head to different eateries in Karachi to enjoy this mixed rice delicacy for lunch. Biryani is also one of the most ordered menu items for different kinds of events and gatherings taking place in the city.
Where to Find the Best Biryani in Karachi?
There are many famous biryani places in Karachi including Biryani Centre, Student Biryani and Al Naz Biryani. The outlets of these eateries are found all across the city. Most of these Biryani restaurants also provide doorstep delivery.
The concept of Nalli Biryani, which is a relatively new creation based on Biryani topped with bone marrow, has become incredibly popular among foodies lately. You can find this newly-introduced desi delicacy on the food street of Hussainabad, Karachi.
Nihari is basically a stew consisting of a meal cooked on slow flame. It has a very thick texture that is flavoured with different spices. Nihari is one of the most famous street foods in Karachi. Every serving of it is seasoned with small flakes of ginger, chillies, and drops of lemon juice. It is best enjoyed with piping hot naans.
Where to Find the Best Nihari in Karachi?
Among the top five Nihari spots in Karachi, Javaid Nihari is the most famous one. It has even been visited by international food vloggers like Mark Wiens. The first and oldest branch of Javaid Nihari is located in Federal B. Area. However, the restaurant has recently opened another branch in Bahadurabad, Karachi. Other famous nihari restaurants in Karachi include Sabir Nihari, Zahid Nihari, Daily Dubai, and Delhi Nihari.
Another popular dish to taste the real flavours of Karachi is Haleem. It is a wholesome dish made with a mix of different types of pulses, meat, and spices. The texture of Haleem is even thicker and denser than Nihari. To add more flavours to this meaty delicacy, it is topped with lemon juice, coriander, small chunks of deep-fried onions, and Chat Masala. Owing to its thick consistency, it acts as a complete meal in itself, which can be enjoyed with or without naan.
Quick Fact: Haleem is the South Asian version of a meat-based stew, which is made with different ingredients in many regions of the Middle East as well.
Where to Find the Best Haleem in Karachi?
As their names imply, places like Karachi Haleem and Mazedar Haleem are quite famous for serving delicious Haleem in Karachi. These two restaurants have branches in different parts of the city. Outlets of both of these eateries can be spotted on the food street of Burns Road in Karachi.
Barbecue Food is another thing you cannot miss trying upon your visit to Karachi. From Chicken Tikka to Spicy Gola Kababs and the very famous Kabab Fry, these delicious BBQ servings await you in the city. Barbecue food is another desi delicacy that is best enjoyed in the open air and it also greatly contributes to the local street food scene.
Where to Find the Best BBQ Food in Karachi?
The five best restaurants serving barbecue food in Karachi are Shaikh Abdul Ghaffar Kabab House, Zameer Ansari Kabab House, Bar. B.Q Tonight, Kolachi, and Kababjees. All these famous BBQ food spots have branches all over the city and also offer home delivery.
Meanwhile, if you are a fan of Kabab Fry, you should definitely head over to Waheed Kabab House. It is another very popular restaurant serving desi food in Karachi. Waheed Kabab House currently has two branches: one on Burns Road and another in Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
Since Karachi is a coastal city, seafood is available in abundance here. Restaurants in the city serve a lip-smacking variety of fresh seafood. From fried fish to lobsters and crabs, you will find all kinds of seafood items in Karachi served with both local and international recipes. People from all over the country visit Karachi to enjoy fresh and authentic flavours of seafood served in the city.
Where to Find the Best Seafood in Karachi?
There is no shortage of high-end restaurants serving seafood in Karachi, but if you want to experience it with a desi twist, then you should go for eateries like Yadgar Fish and Rashid SeaFood. They offer you some of the most authentic desi seafood recipes in Karachi.
Yadgar Fish is located on the main Jail Road, near Jamshed Quarters in Karachi. On the other hand, Rashid SeaFood is located in the area of East Wharf, Keamari, Karachi. Both of these restaurants also offer doorstep food delivery services, covering different parts of the city.
This brings us to the end of our ultimate food tour of Karachi. We hope the information we have provided you here will help you with your trip to the City of Lights as a foodie. If you know about any other dishes that could be added to the list of the must-have desi food items in Karachi, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d look to hear from you as feedback from our readers always helps us improve our pieces.
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