The friendly rivalry between Karachi and Lahore is an ongoing and constant one, with the competition ranging from entertainment options available and the level of security in each city to the lifestyle the people enjoy and the food they eat. The debate is never-ending, and while food in Karachi and Lahore is equally delicious, each city has its unique set of speciality that makes it the winner in that particular case.
Overall, Karachites have a number of things going for them, including close proximity to the sea for impromptu picnics, the vibrant nightlife they get to enjoy, the availability of a range of high-end shopping malls, and a fairly tolerant mindset, thanks to the ethnically diverse residents that call this city home. Meanwhile, Lahoris are not far behind, having better infrastructure and security with fewer traffic jams and thefts, historic architecture of a bygone era, amazing winter weather, and greener surroundings due to the abundance of parks.
Sure, both cities are constantly working to improve and offer a better lifestyle to their residents, but when it comes to food, neither one of them is willing to back down. Here, we’ll discuss food in Karachi and Lahore and give you our take on what’s better where. But first, let’s look at some significant differences in the food scene of the two cities.
THE FOOD DEBATE—KARACHI VS. LAHORE
The table below shows you just where each city makes its mark in terms of food.
Moving on, let us now discuss the most popular options when it comes to food in Karachi and Lahore.
While having a sea for a neighbour means fresh seafood for foodies to enjoy, many other dishes are a must-try here:
Yes, it is the place to be for all biryani lovers as you won’t get this authentic taste elsewhere in the country. Roadside sellers and small restaurants often serve a more authentic flavour of this delicacy, in comparison to more high-end restaurants, but there are several names that compete for the title of the best biryani place in Karachi.
Karachites love a good barbeque, and from malai tikka to reshmi kabab and beef behari, the range is endless with eateries all over town adding their personal touches and being famous for it.
3. Chicken Broast
Made after boiling and then deep-frying the chicken, the crispy outer cover of the chicken leads to a burst of flavour when you bite into it. Kundan Broast and Karachi Broast are two eateries worth mentioning.
4. Halwa Puri
Boat Basin remains the most famous area to enjoy this particular breakfast treat, but several eateries across Karachi are renowned for offering a perfect start to the day with sweet halwa, delicious puris, and stews of potatoes and chickpeas served with mango pickles.
5. Bun Kabab
Head to Pakistan Chowk or Burns Road for the most authentic bun kabab in Karachi, but if the distance is too great, you can easily find a bun kabab seller in every area, with each having their own taste and take on the dish.
6. Gola Ganda
Karachi’s hot summers are well complimented with this frosty treat. While gola gandas made with shaved ice and a range of colourful and flavourful liquids, fruits, condensed milk, and chocolate syrup are famous all over Pakistan, Dhoraji remains the hub of gola ganda sellers in Karachi.
If you enter a restaurant in Karachi and hear metal beating metal in a peculiar rhythm, it’s fairly possible that the place serves katakat. The dish is named after the sound that is made when the meat is cut up and mixed together on a flat pan. It is also known as taka tak in other parts of the country. It is available at many places that offer a Pakistani menu.
Karachi has some of the freshest seafood, from crabs and prawns to a range of other specialities. One place worth naming is Biryani of the Seas that caters to foodies craving delicacies from the sea. Moreover, seafood is also widely available in many upscale restaurants in town.
Most Karachites have a high spice threshold and a love for all things tangy and spicy. Therefore, chaat vendors can be found on roadsides as well as in food courts in shopping malls. You can try gol gappay, channa chaat, mixed chaat or a range of other options.
10. Paratha Rolls
Want a quick bite on the go? Grab a paratha roll from any of Hot n Spicy’s outlets, and you’re all set to head to your destination. From the chicken chatni roll to the garlic mayo roll, a range of options are available when it comes to the delicious paratha rolls you can enjoy in Karachi from several eateries.
Food in Karachi and Lahore has its own taste and cultural significance. Some Lahore-based dishes that should not be missed are:
Often enjoyed at breakfast, paaye can be made from mutton or beef. The stew is eaten with naan and paired with lassi to complete the meal.
Nihari is another dish that is consumed at breakfast and dinner alike, with naan complimenting the meal. Mohammadi Nihari is the go-to place for this dish in Lahore.
Lahore is known for its karahi, with Butt Karahi being the most famous. From lamb and chicken to beef, mutton and achari versions, there are several ways to make the perfect karahi and many eateries serve this in Lahore for your cravings.
An all-time drink, lassi is available in sweet and salty varieties, with the sweet version often being a staple of Lahori breakfasts. The drink is served at roadside stalls as well as in restaurants having a Pakistani menu.
Charga is made by marinating a whole chicken and then deep frying it. It is a speciality of Lahore that has made its ways onto the menu of several eateries all over Pakistan.
6. Fried Fish
The cold winter weather results in an increased demand for fried fish and Lahore does it to perfection. Bashir Dar-ul-Mahi is where you should go for a taste of this delicacy but sellers of fried fish can also be found in some of the top street markets of Lahore.
7. Murg Chollay
A slight twist to the traditional chickpea stew served with halwa puri, murg chollay or murg channay is a dish made with chickpeas and chicken or mutton. This recipe is also a breakfast favourite of Lahoris.
8. Nan Khatai
Nan Khatai from Khalifa Bakers in Lahore is famous all over the country. It is a sweet and nutty biscuit that is also considered an ideal souvenir for travellers to the city.
9. Samosa Chaat
Karachi’s high spice tolerance allows it to be known for its chaats, but samosa chaat has its origins in Lahore, where a potato samosa is served either alongside or crushed into a chickpea stew. It is spicy, tangy and delicious. Try a samosa chaat in Lahore at any of the roadside sellers, as every seller has their own blend of spices for you to experience.
Jalebi—hot, crunchy, sweet and filled with sugar syrup. It is a delicacy eaten around the country, but in Lahore, doodh jalebi is a must-have. Hot jalebis are dipped into a cup or glass of milk and then devoured as one of the most famous desserts of Lahore.
When it comes to the Karachi vs. Lahore food battle, each city has its own specialities that the locals love. Food in Karachi and Lahore is also synonymous with family time in both cities, in spite of Lahore’s cultural and Karachi’s modern values having an influence on mealtime gatheri