During a 16 day trip to Pakistan, there’s no better way to experience true Punjabi food than a visit to a town like this one. We are just outside a Punjab town, in the area of Wazirabad, near to Gujranwala.
Though I don’t know at all what to expect, what happens here is truly an unforgettable time full of community, hospitality, and of course some incredibly delicious local Punjabi food.
In this post, I’m going to share with you a desi (local) breakfast, and lunch, and the entire deliciously friendly experience.
Join us at this family home in the village of Kot Yousef.
Note: This article was written by Joel Bruner.
Passion is More Than Just the Food
You probably know that by now that at Migrationology we have some serious passion for food.
Really though, for me its more than just the amazing flavors that are exciting – its the ‘full package food experience’ that ultimately gives me the drive to travel.
Being able to spend time eating together with the people who call a meal ‘their own home food,’ increases the joy I get from eating exponentially, so much more than just closing eyes, and tasting different flavors of our world – which is exactly what is happening right here in the village of Kot Yousef.
Experience Exactly This!
The food is, of course, a gigantic bonus and here (in Wazirabad, Pakistan), you can experience exactly this – traditional Punjabi food, together with the people responsible for making it happen.
I would like to say a huge thank you – to those involved, and to you for supporting us by reading about it – truly a great day of life – Enjoy!
Excitement in Kot Yousef
Imagine walking into a setting that you have literally always dreamed about. Would you want it be just the same? Would you prefer to be met with total surprise? How about a perfect mix of the two?
I read a lot of books, and as a kid, I spent a lot of time in my imagination. Something I am appreciating in the fullest in Wazirabad today, is how not only are the colors bright, the people warm, and the scenery so wonderfully weird (both familiar and completely new), just how I thought I would want it all to be…
Somehow in my childhood dreams though, I forgot to include the insanely and deliciously full breaths of smoky smells hitting me from every single direction, and how it seems that everyone in sight is just smiling and beckoning to come and taste test this, or enjoy a sip of that…
Ok, enough abstraction, because this is happening right now!
Lets get to this amazing Punjabi home-cooking.
Charcoal Smoke Draws You In
Waking up in a village like Kot Yousef, you will likely enjoy tea, eat some fresh fruit, and then possibly go out for a nice morning stroll with your friendly local hosts.
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As many families in Pakistan will traditionally do everything for themselves (I do mean nearly everything), you can take part in activities like buffalo milking, butter churning, even tractor-driving practice, all while on your way to the morning market.
I would say there are few better ways you can ever get hungry for a meal than by being present for literally every step. Every recipe, every dish, you’re watching from dawn ’til lunch.
Thankfully there will be many, many snacks to get you through!
Milking Buffalo Before a Morning Stroll
What seems like only minutes later, although by now its likely after 9AM, its time for another quick stroll around the village.
Buying drinks for lunch actually, the preparations are well under-way for what is quite obviously going to be a Punjabi food feast of home-cooking.
The smells are deliciously hot and smoky, and I can’t wait to show you some the fresh ingredients they are using with us today.
Lend a Hand… If You Can
Although I am basically helpless, due to the speed at which everything is happening around me, I’m still so happy to be standing here, witnessing meal preparations from the start.
Making this meal requires several of our hosts working together for hours, but its also amazing to me how gently they are working. There are very few harsh sounds, its mostly just quick and quiet motion (with a lot of sounds of sizzling from a dozen different frying pans of course!).
There’s Love in Every Dish
Rapid sifting, smooth and powerful churning, swift kneading actions, everything that brings together the different ingredients of Punjabi’s great cuisine.
From the beginning there is real love going into every dish you will eat, and I think its something you will inevitably learn to appreciate, especially when you allow yourself to be present exactly in situations like this one here right now.
Note: When making food truly from scratch, a lot of work needs doing, most of which many of us might not even think about (even know about at all!), while just cooking in a kitchen at home.
Heights of Experience in Punjabi Home-Cooking
Moving back to open spaces just outside the kitchen area, you will see (and hear) branches being broken, sticks dragging through dirt, for the large numbers of fires under all the various cooking pans.
So cool to see the sheer amount of people involving themselves in making Roti, Chapati, Paratha and Puri (all the different types of breads), and cool too to know how many people this all will feed.
In even yet another small courtyard, see the churning of fresh milk from buffalo that are walking in their pens just beyond. This is directly next to the family team who make the Curries, the Dal (lentils), and even Raita, which in this case, is home-made yoghurt, ready now from the milking earlier this morning,
Still not done yet, as the almonds and pistachios for dessert need shelling, husking, and crushing.
Its amazing, and all of this takes such work – sometimes even real physical strength to get the job done – I am so grateful to the strong mothers and grandmothers, even young sisters and brothers helping out too, all taking such good care of us this day.
Traditional Punjabi Food
As the hours pass, hunger may grow to wonderfully tantalizing heights, and my favorite dish of the wonderfully large family meal is Aloo Paratha. Even among all the others, I can easily pick out this as a favorite, it gets the award for Punjabi Food Dish of the Day.
I hope you enjoy the photos of such wonderful and incredible home-cooking Punjabi food, and although you can’t taste it yet, I hope you can smile, and get inspiration to go out, and find experiences just like this for yourself someday soon!
Aloo Paratha is an iron-skillet cooked bread folded full of potato, spices, and a few different types of flour. The raw ingredients form a thick layer on top, to which the chef adds a few generous spoonfuls of Desi Ghee (homemade clarified butter) – the heartiness in this single bread leaves nothing else to be desired.
Its a perfect Punjabi food.
Creating the Perfect Paratha
Making Aloo Paratha requires two of the entire round breads, and after pressing all the filling inside (potato, and spices like cumin, garam masala, and fragrant crushed pepper), the second piece lies on top, the edges fold together, and everything cooks for round two.
Each potato-packed Paratha sizzles for just a few minutes per side, and then receives a final rub from another spoonf of desi ghee – in Pakistani food the importance of desi ghee is something that simply cannot be underestimated.
Smoky flavor from charcoal cooking accompanies buttery richness so perfectly – the heavier ingredient of potato just makes the entire dish so warm and wonderfully satisfying.
I wonder if Pakistan actually designs this Aloo Paratha dish just to have you licking off your fingers after each and every bite.
A true champion of Punjabi food, of comfort food of Pakistan, I love ripping off chunks of this Paratha to dip into spicy Saag and mutton curries.
I do believe its all you need for a mid-morning epiphany of food and friendly happiness.
What a day.
Bonus – Tent-Pegging Local Sport and Tradition
You may not know of the sport 0f tent-pegging, but that doesn’t mean its not a favorite pastime in several parts of the world.
The raising of horses, the grooming and care, and finally the showing of strength and skill, all of these are integral parts of a Central Asian sport since the 4th century BC.
Its not hard to imagine that we appreciate too how this pastime may include large amounts of Punjabi food both before and after participation.
“Tent-pegging” is Amazing, and Works Just How it Sounds
Riders aim simply to put a spear tip through a tiny wooden ‘peg,’ something that is much, much more easier said than done.
Incredibly fast and fun to watch though, it is very intense during each rider/horse sprint. They push the horse to a full gallop (amazingly, at this speed, the back of the horse is actually more stable and rigid than while trotting or walking).
Of course the danger lies in the rider spearing themselves (or the horse), and part of the technique is how to gently ram a 5kg spear into the ground while moving at 45kph.
Very fun to watch, and a great way to complete our visit to Kot Yousef village in Pakistan.
Incredibly Gracious Hosts
The entire day a treat, and I have nothing but thanks and love for the entire Bagdi family. Thank you for making this day possible.
I hope reading this excites your imagination like it does for me, and I hope you will continue to connect with us by leaving a few words in the comment box down below.
Thanks, have a wonderful day today, and if you want to see all of this (and quite a lot more) in video form, check out the full video on YouTube. Enjoy!
Watch the full video
Don’t forget to check out the full series of Pakistan videos!