Thursday, October 1, 2009

Khana, Khaba and Eateries of Lahore

Don’t ask anyone in Lahore what, where and how much does he eat – since there is plenty to eat and there is plenty space in stomach as well. One shouldn't be surprised when being a guest at someone in Lahore and having eaten sandwiches and junk food to one’s full, he is asked to accompany his host for “food” since in Lahore food means “Khaba” and not “Khana”.

Traditionally, Gawalmandi and Mazang are two main places where every kind of food is available in abundance. Although the three Food Streets in Lahore ( one each at Gawalmandi, Anarkali and “area” adjacent to the Badshahi Mosque/Lahore Fort complex ), there are many places where one can go out and eat.  There are many names associated with the traditional foods in Lahore, like Phajjay kay Paye ( anyone with the name of Fazal is called Phajja in Punjabi), Bundu Khan (a name that basically comes from Karachi, but has now equally known well in the eating circles of Lahore – however unlike his fame in Karachi for Parathas and kababs, Bundu Khan has specialized in tradional oil rich foods of Lahore),  Butt Karahi (located on the main McLeod Rd near Lakhshami Chowk – a place well known for the offices of distributors of Pakistani Films),  and Ashiq's Channay is a well known desi food spot located in the main Sadar bazar inside Lahore cantonment – famous for its channa (chickpeas) curry and haleem (mixed pulses curry). Shahi Murgh Channay in front of the old Odeon Cinema on Abott Road (off Lakhshami Chowk) is perhaps the best in town and one of my favourite spots whenever I am in Lahore and even my children are a fan of his specialty.

Equally good is Ghulam Rasool Restaurant, Nila Gumbad (off Anarkali Bazaar), who also specializes in Murgh Channay and his stuff sells like hot dogs. Amritsar Harrisa at Nisbat Road, just in between Lakhshami Chowk and Gawalmandi is best known for harrisa. Tabbaq Restaurant, Lakshmi Chowk and Paradise canteen, State Life Building, Mall road, are hub of delicious Mutton Roast and Murgh Musallam (Chicken cooked with rice and dry fruits stuffed inside). And if you happen to be visiting the Gawalmandi Food Street in the winters, dont miss the delight of having steamy and sizzling fish of Haji Sardar - you would never forget its taste for years.

Karahi Gosht (Chicken or mutton cooked in spices) is a specialty of Lahore. There are no equals to Lahore Restaurants, even in Pakistan. The best Karahis can be found in restaurants in Royal Park area (Lakshmi Chowk). Some of the famous names are Pakasia, Butt and Nirala Butt. The place is also famous for early morning breakfast of halwa Puri and lassi.

The Cuckoo's Den is famous both for its Art Gallery and Restaurant situated in the Old City, owned and operated by the famous and controversial artists of Pakistan Iqbal Hussain. The restaurant is in the vicinity of Lahore's red light area and has a similar theme. With amazing food and views of the Fort and Badshahi Masjid it is one of the best restaurants in the City. The “Ultay tawa wala Chicken” is perhaps their best dish.

The walled city of Lahore is a class of its own where genuine cooks still provide you the original taste and actual specialties of Lahore. Haji's Nihari inside Lohari Gate is the best but one must not venture to this place with a partially filled stomach as he wont be able to stop when the food gets going through.

For “decent” eating, M M Alam Road, Gulberg and H-Block Defence Housing Authority (DHA) are the two areas heavily populated with restaurants serving modern Chinese and exotic food dishes. Copper Kettle Main Boulevard Gulberg and Gun Smoke Restaurant at MM Allam Road Gulberg are two interesting places for novel foods. Freddy's Cafe – a new name, situated on M. M. Alam road, offers variety of Mexican, Italian, Afghani and Continental dishes. Salt’n’ Pepper, located near the Liberty roundabout, Gulberg, is one of the oldest eating places in Lahore that offers continental, desi and Chinese food.  

Although the food at psoh localities like the MM Alam Road, Defence and Gulberg main is exotic, but eating out in Mozang, Gawalmandi, Lakhshami Chowk and Gadi Shahoo has its own environ, taste and hospitality – though greasy and crowded.

Top 10 Eating places of Lahore (as short listed by my friend SAJ Shirazi)
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Asghar Javed said...

When it comes to eating, we Lahori are 'the best.' I mean we eat the best and eat so much. LOL!

Sardar Machli is one of the famous symbols in Lahore. Thanks for bringing it up here.

Jalal HB said...

Thanks for taking time out and putting in a real lahori Style comment.