10 Street Foods which are Popular in Karachi

In Karachi, there are various street foods that keep bringing back food lovers. We explore 10 popular dishes in more detail.


When eaten, there is a burst of flavours

As you walk through the streets of Karachi you will notice the hustle and bustle of cars, pedestrians roaming the shops and the roaring sounds of motorbikes.

You will also notice the array of aromas coming from the multitude of street food vendors.

From flavorful snacks to delightful desserts, there are plenty of street foods that are immensely popular in Karachi.

Known as “the city of lights”, Karachi offers lots of street food options to suit different taste preferences.

We delve into 10 of Karachi’s most popular street foods.

Haleem

10 Street Foods which are Popular in Karachi - haleem

A popular dish in Karachi and across Pakistan, Haleem is a moreish stew made with various grains, lentils and pieces of slow-cooked mutton.

This street food can be topped off with various garnishes such as mint leaves, fried onions, coriander and green chillies.

For even more flavour, a sprinkle of chaat masala is a great addition.

Many street food vendors sell Haleem in the morning as it is a popular breakfast dish.

When eaten, there is a burst of flavours ranging from the richness of the stew to the meatiness of the mutton.

Given that it is high in fibre, Haleem keeps you feeling full for longer.

Samosa

Samosas are a staple across the entire Indian subcontinent and a popular menu item for Karachi-based street food vendors.

Crispy pastry encases a lightly spiced filling.

A common filling is spicy potatoes and peas but another option that is common in Karachi is keema with peas.

Samosas can be enjoyed alongside chaat.

The name ‘samosa’ dates back to the Persian word Sanbosag, which itself may have been derived from the Persian word ‘sanbosk’, meaning ‘triangular pastry’.

They appeared on the tables of Sultans and Emperors before appearing on the bustling streets of India and Pakistan.

Variations of the humble samosa exist across the world.

For example, a Morrocan variation is known as ‘Lukhmi’.

Daal Chawal

10 Street Foods which are Popular in Karachi - chawal

Daal Chawal is a simple lentil stew served with rice.

After soaking, lentils are blended to a paste-like consistency. However, the consistency is personal preference and differs among street food vendors.

Oil, curry leaves, mustard seeds, fenugreek and whole red chillies are mixed into a pot.

In a separate pot, the onions are added whilst stirring occasionally until golden. The lentils are then added.

As well as being available at street food stalls, Daal Chawal is commonly eaten in households.

Biryani

Pakistani Biryani Recipes for a Traditional Taste - chicken

Biryani holds a special place in Pakistani cuisine and Karachi is no exception.

You’ll find numerous street vendors, food stalls and small eateries across the city selling biryani to locals and visitors alike.

It is an irresistible dish and there are plenty of variations available.

Some are made with chicken and potatoes while others have chunks of tender meat.

Rice is partially cooked while the other elements are made.

Biryani is then layered, with the spicy curry alternating with the rice. It is then placed into the oven to finish cooking.

Fried onions typically garnish Biryani before being served.

This dish is not only popular on the streets of Karachi but is frequently on the menu at weddings and parties! 

Gol Gappa

10 Street Foods which are Popular in Karachi - gol

An explosion of the senses, Gol Gappa is well-loved across Karachi.

Gol Gappa is a deep-fried breaded sphere filled with potato, onion, lentils or chickpeas.

It is a common street food in the Indian subcontinent.

This dish is often spiced with tamarind chutney, chilli powder or chaat masala.

In different regions, it is known by different names such as Pani Puri in Mumbai and Fuchka in Bangladesh.

It also means there are different variations. The Bengali version uses spiced mashed potatoes and daal or curried chickpeas as the filling.

Chaat

10 Street Foods which are Popular in Karachi - chaat

Chaat is a well-known street food that typically has a base of crispy fried dough or boiled ingredients like potatoes, chickpeas or lentils.

It is then typically topped with an assortment of ingredients such as chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander and green chillies.

Various chutneys and sauces are drizzled over the chaat to add flavour and moisture. Common chutneys include tamarind chutney, mint chutney and yoghurt-based sauces.

Chaat is generously seasoned with a blend of spices for extra flavour.

The inviting nature of this dish is sure to make your mouth water.

There are numerous variations of chaat, with popular ones including Aloo Chaat, Papdi Chaat, Bhel Puri and Dahi Puri.

This means you are bound to try different ones when exploring Karachi.

Nihari

Nihari is an exquisite dish made with mutton or lamb shank.

The ingredients that define this dish are ginger paste, chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric.

The masala includes black pepper, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, black and green cardamoms, ginger and red chillies.

It is a slow-cooked dish, ensuring all the flavours meld together and deepen in intensity.

The meat infuses all of these flavours and becomes extremely tender when eaten.

Popular in Karachi, Nihari can be eaten with rice or naan.

Kachori

A flaky and crispy snack, Kachori is similar to a spring roll or a samosa in terms of the filling. But the defining factor is the crispy pastry.

It’s made by mixing flour, ghee and salt in a bowl. It is then kneaded into a dough.

Kachori has a variety of savoury fillings, such as spiced lentils, peas or minced meat. It is often flavoured with aromatic spices and herbs, giving it a rich and flavorful taste.

In Karachi, you can find Kachori being sold at various street food stalls and vendors throughout the city.

Kachori is often served with tangy and spicy chutneys, such as tamarind chutney or mint chutney, which complement its flavours perfectly.

Whether as a quick bite on the go or as part of a larger street food feast, Kachori remains a beloved and iconic street food in Karachi’s vibrant culinary scene.

Falooda

10 Best Sweet Dishes and Food of Pakistan - falooda

On the sweet side is Falooda, a much-loved dessert drink across the Indian subcontinent.

Falooda typically consists of a base made from a combination of ingredients. This often includes soaked basil seeds, vermicelli noodles and sometimes tapioca pearls.

The base ingredients are combined with sweetened milk and flavoured with rose syrup or other syrups like khus or saffron.

The milk is usually chilled to enhance the refreshing quality of the drink.

A scoop of ice cream is added for extra richness.

Falooda is usually garnished with various toppings, such as chopped nuts, candied fruits and sometimes pieces of jelly.

Zarda

10 Best Sweet Dishes and Food of Pakistan - zarda

Zarda is another popular dessert found at street food stalls in Karachi.

Rice is boiled until cooked but still firm.

The cooked rice is then sweetened with sugar, giving Zarda its characteristic sweetness. The amount of sugar added can vary depending on personal preference and regional variations.

One of the distinctive features of Zarda is its vibrant colour.

Traditionally, Zarda is coloured using natural ingredients such as saffron or food colourings like orange or yellow. This adds visual appeal to the dish.

It is then garnished with ingredients such as chopped nuts, raisins and sometimes desiccated coconut.

Street food in Karachi is profound when it comes to the flavours and aromas coming from the stalls.

But when searching for authentic street food, Burns Road and Hussainabad are must-visits.

Derived from the British spy and doctor James Burnes, Burns Road is a melting pot of cultures and street foods.

Meanwhile, Hussainabad features over 30 street food stalls, each offering something different and showcasing the diverse culture of Karachi.

Whether you’re indulging in classics like Samosas and Chaat or exploring lesser-known delicacies, Karachi’s street foods promise an unforgettable culinary journey.

So, the next time you find yourself in Karachi, make sure to embark on a culinary adventure through its vibrant streets, where every bite is a celebration of the city’s dynamic flavours.



Kamilah is an experienced actress, radio presenter and qualified in Drama & Musical Theatre. She loves debating and her passions include arts, music, food poetry and singing.



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