Food to Lahoris is what a pen is to writer or a credit card to a shopaholic. Nationwide, Lahoris are known to devour their food and most of them could kill for a lot less than a good chop masala.
Here is a tribute to the food lovers of Lahore and for those who want to fall in love with food.
If anyone ever tries to tell you that BBQ Tonight or Tabaq or Bundu Khan has real Pakistani Food, please do not believe him or her. As a true Lahori you have to understand that real Pakistani food is still located in the old city, Lakshmi Chowk, Mazung and Abbott Road. Starting from Bhatti Gate, you cannot miss out on nihari from Haji’s. Mohammadi Nihari may have taken over the local cosmopolitan but you haven’t had nihari if you haven’t had it from Haji.
As winter creeps up, fish comes back to the market and the best fried fish in town is found at this small shop in Mazung called Bashir Darul Mahi. You can’t go wrong with crispy, crunchy and succulent fish with a hint of spice along with the radish and tamarind sauce and some hot naan.
Taka Tak chops, gizzard and liver are a delicacy and are now readily available everywhere but when one has the time and wants to make the effort to really satisfy those taste buds, a trip to Kaka Gurda Kapoora in Lakshmi Chowk is a must. Kaka is one of the oldest taka tak joints in the city, even though the owner has now passed away his legacy still continues. “Every time I come to Lahore from Baltimore, I make a trip down to Lakshmi Chowk to have Kaka’s Taka Tak because not only is it delicious, it also reminds me of my childhood,” says a customer Asfa Butt.
When in the mood to add a little seafood to the mix of desi style of cooking, be sure to check out the Jhinga Karhai at Aandaz behind the Badshahi Mosque. “It is very hard to find good seafood in Lahore but Andaaz has made it easier with its delicious Jhinga Karhai,” says a Raza Ellahi.
Even though Lahoris love proper food, they cannot live without traditional snacks like chaat and gol gappay. For this purpose, it is worth making a trip out to Regal on Mall Road for some Dahi Bhallay. There is a small stand outside Lawrence Gardens that serves Novelty Gol Gappas with the tangiest and spiciest tamarind sauce available in Lahore.
The other side of the town
No matter how much we love Pakistani cuisine, everyone needs a break from the heavy, extra oily food and that’s where MM Alam road comes in to mix up the flavour and add some diversity to the food.
Cosa Nostra is famously known for its burgers, pizza and ice cream but did you know that they have killer mozzarella sticks? Breadcrumb covered fat slices of mozzarella cheese deep fried to perfection later dipped into marinara sauce is the perfect snack. “They remind me of the nights I spent munching away on cheese sticks from the local diner in Toronto,” adds a regular customer Meher Saleem, “I am so happy I found them at Cosa Nostra.” For those of you who have never been introduced to the heavenly world of Mozz-sticks, Cosa Nostra is the place to go.
Espresso, a local coffee shop known for its coffee and desserts, has some of the best Beef Fajitas in town. “It’s my favourite thing here; they are delicious every time and I try to come and have them at least once a week,” says a fan, who chooses to remain anonymous.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2012.