Percentage of income spent on food: 44.5 percent [Source: Washington State University ( ; Vox ]

Amount of calories consumed each day: 2280, compared to 1,590 in Eritrea and 3,800 in the United States. [Source: U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Wikipedia ]

Islam and Pakistan’s location in South Asia influence local cuisine to a great degree. Pakistan consume mutton, lamb, beef, chicken, fish, and vegetables as well as local fruits and dairy products. The influence of Central Asia and the Middle Eastern is found in Pakistani cuisine.

According to “Countries and Their Cultures”: “Wheat and flour products are considered mainstays of the daily diet, and the use of pickles, chutneys, preserves, and sauces along with curried meats, seafood, vegetables, and lentils and are why Pakistani cuisine has such a unique flavor. Because of the use of spices and curry for the main dish, the usual side dish is plain rice. Lentils are another common specialty. The food in the south is more exotic and highly spiced, while that in the north often features plain barbecued meat as the main dish. Usually any meat, fowl, or seafood is curried, and frying is the typical method of cooking. Ghee, which is clarified butter, is another commonly used recipe item and is often used for frying.” [Source:“Countries and Their Cultures”, Gale Group Inc., 2001]

Weird foods include deviled sheep brains and pan-fried brains. Acrididae (short-horned grasshoppers) are eaten in some arid regions. According to Das (1945), inhabitants of Makran in Balochistan and some tribes in Sindh reportedly use locusts as food, both in the fresh and the dried state. Makranis call the locusts Hawaii Jhinga, meaning aerial crustacean, and find the taste similar to that of crayfish.. [Source: Insects as Food, by Gene DeFoliart,

Eating Customs: See Customs

History of Food in Pakistan

According to the “Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World”: “The spreading of the Islam religion, starting in the A.D. 700s, forms the basis of Pakistani cuisine. Because Muslims (those who practice the Islam religion) are forbidden to eat pork or consume alcohol, they concentrated on other areas of food such as beef, chicken, fish, and vegetables. [Source: Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World, The Gale Group, Inc., 2002]

“The Moghul Empire (from India) began its ruling in present-day Pakistan around 1526. Its style of cooking, called Mughal, typically includes such ingredients as herbs and spices, almonds, and raisins. Mughal cooking remains an important part of Pakistani cuisine. Foods such as shahi tukra, a dessert made with sliced bread, milk, cream, sugar, and saffron (a type of spice), and chicken tandoori are still enjoyed in the twenty-first century. Chicken tandoori is chicken that is cooked at a low temperature in special large clay ovens called tandoors.

“Pakistan was part of India until 1947. Although Pakistani cuisine has obvious Indian roots (found in its heavy use of spices, for example), its foods reflect Irani, Afghani, Persian, and Western influences to give it its own distinct character. These cultures brought different uses of herbs, flavorings, and sauces to Pakistan, transferring ordinary staple foods into unique dishes.

Main Ingredients in Pakistani Food

According to the “Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World”: As a whole, milk, lentils, seasonal sabzi (vegetables), and flour and wheat products are the most abundant foods, forming the basis of Pakistani cuisine. Chapatis is a flat bread made from wheat and is a staple at most meals. It is used to scoop up food in place of eating utensils. Vegetables such as alu (potatoes), gobhi (cabbage), bhindi (okra), channa (chickpeas), and matar (peas) are eaten according to the season. Dhal (or dal) is a stew made with lentils, one of the most commonly eaten vegetables. [Source: Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World, The Gale Group, Inc., 2002]

“While these dietary staples may seem bland, Pakistani cuisine is rich with sauces and condiments to spice up their dishes. A variety of spices (an Indian influence), such as chili powder, curry, ginger, garlic, coriander, paprika, and cinnamon, are at the heart of Pakistani cuisine. A wide range of chutneys (a relish usually made of fruits, spices, and herbs), pickles, and preserves that accompany meats and vegetables give Pakistani cuisine its distinct flavor.

“In rural areas, meat is saved for a special occasion. Eating pork is forbidden for Muslims, who make up about 97 percent of Pakistan's population. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, mutton (sheep) and beef are not supposed to be sold or served in public places in Pakistan (although the reason for this is considered economic, not religious). Seafood and machli (fish) are commonly eaten in Karachi, located on the coast of the Arabian Sea.

“There are a number of foods to cool off the spicy flavors of a Pakistani meal. Dãi (yogurt) can be eaten plain or used in lassi. Lassi is a drink made with yogurt, ice, and sugar for breakfast, or salt for lunch or dinner. Raita is a yogurt curd with cumin and vegetables. Baked yams and sita (boiled or roasted corn on the cob) may also accompany a spicy dish.

Eating Habits in Pakistan

Most Pakistanis have breakfast early, between 6:00am or 8:00pm, after morning prayer. Breakfast is called Nihari, derived from the Urdu word nihar, which means "morning." A typical rural breakfast in Pakistan consists of bread, eggs, yoghurt, porridge and tea with milk and sugar. Nehari (stewed beef) and mango are common breakfast items. Major hotels off Western offer Western-style breakfasts. At hotels in the hill stations and other places you can an English breakfast with porridge, cornflakes, eggs, pancakes and tea or coffee. Some Pakistan have “ala-puri” (spicy potatoes with “puri”) or “suji ka halva” (semolina pudding).

Lunch is served between 1:00pm and 2:00pm, after noon prayer. It usually consists of bread or rice, chicken, fish, egg or vegetable curry, maybe some vegetable dishes, tea and water. Many people go home to eat lunch. Many Pakistan have tea, fruit salad and samosas at tea time from 4:00am to 5:00pm. Some Pakistanis have these same dishes for brunch.

Pakistan tend to eat a late dinner between 8:30pm and 9:30pm. Dinner usually includes kebabs, fish, chicken, mutton or beef with curries, “roti” (similar to pita bread), rice, and fruit. Fruit is more likely to served as a desert than sweets. Water is usually served during the meal and tea is served afterwards. Water may be offered at the beginning or after a meal but not consumed while eating.

According to the Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World: Sometimes a dish made of meat cooked with chilies and other spices is cooked overnight to be consumed for breakfast the next morning, when it is eaten with naan, a type of bread, or parata, which is a flat cake fried in oil. Women prepare breakfast and all other meals for their family. [Source:Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World, The Gale Group, Inc., 2002]

“Pakistani lunch and dinner dishes are similar. Roti (bread), chawal (rice), sabzi (vegetables), and gosht (meat) are the main elements of a meal. Chapatis or naan accompanies every meal. Rice is usually boiled or fried. Some rice dishes include kabuli pulau, made with raisins, and biryani, rice cooked in a yogurt and meat sauce. For the main dish, qorma (meat curry in gravy), qofta (lamb meatballs), or nargasi qofta (minced beef and egg) might be served.

Snacks, Fruits and Deserts in Pakistan

Street vendors sell a wide variety of snack, including tikka (spicy barbequed meat) and pakoras (deep-fried vegetables). kebabs, dahl, samosas (deep-fried turnovers filled with spiced potatoes and chick peas, or meat or vegetables), “cholas” (chickpeas cooked with lemon juice and green chilies and other spices), “pakoras” (deep-fried, batter-dipped vegetables), “bhajia” (vegetables dipped in chickpea flour and then fried), chick-pea-flour “papadum” chips and “shwarma” sandwiches. . Street sweets include barfi” (a fudge-like concoction that oft includes coconut, pistachios or almonds), “pera” (Similar to barfi except harder and more crumbly)

Among the favorite desserts are kheer (rice pudding), other kinds of pudding and kulfi (pistachio ice cream). Some sweet shops often sell “jalebi” (deep-fried, syrup-doused pretzel-shaped sweets made with flour, yogurt, and sugar) and barfi (made from dried milk solids). Desserts and pastries tend to be very sweet like Turkish or Greek balaclava. Among the recommended sweets are firni” (a custard-like rice pudding often served with fruits or nuts),, shirmmal”. (a sweet bread cooked with milk and eggs), “halvas” (stick sweets), “Islamabad halwa” (sweetmeat made with ground wheat, milk sugar and pistachios, “ Shahii tujra” (bread pudding) . Puddings are often sold on the streets on leaves held together with twigs. Sweets are often offered to friends and relatives to celebrate happy events.

Village food and snacks consists of “sag” (a green leafy vegetable), “chapatis”, dahl”, piyaj” (onions), jaggery” (unrefined can sugar) and on rare occasions goat meat. Wheat and milk staple of Punjab diet. pumpkins, chapatis, pea and potato curry,”. In the Himalayan areas you can get momos (Tibetan dumplings), noodles with rice and barley beer.

Among the locally consumed fruits are mangoes, papayas, guavas, pomegranates, oranges, bananas, lemons, mangos, watermelons, a variety of melons grown in the plains. Apples, apricots, peaches, pears, plums and walnuts grown in highland areas. A wide variety of vegetables are also grown Mangoes are particularly treasured and they come in several varieties. Fresh fruits are most plentiful in the summer and autumn. Chiku taste like dates but have the texture of a kiwi fruit. Many Pakistanis eat their fruit (especially watermelon) with a smidgen of salt.

Breads in Pakistan

Meal are usually served with “chapatis” (flat, chewy, unleavened pancake-like, whole-wheat bread). Other kinds of Pakistani bread include “naan” (made from fermented flour and cumin seeds and roasted in a tandoor oven), “roti” (chewy, very-thin, almost crepe-like bread). Other breads include “kulcha” (naan sprinkled with sesame seeds), “paranthas” (puffy, layered bread), “phulhka” (a puffed chapati) and “puri” (small puffed rolls).

There are many kinds of bread and they vary from region to religion. In some parts of northern Pakistan you can find breads made with radishes, carrots, potatoes and beans. Kebabs and other dishes are often accompanied by naan. Some breads and dishes are served with chutneys, a kind of pickled jelly made with mangos, tamarind, coriander or other fruit and spices.

The daily food in most Sindhi households consists of wheat-based flat-bread (phulka) and rice accompanied by two dishes, one gravy and one dry. Among the breads found there are Chhola Dhabal (baked bread with chick peas in thick gravy), Sindhi Koki (a whole wheat flour flatbread, kneaded with onion, chilies, dried pomegranate seeds, cumin and a generous amount of oil, double cooked on griddle) and dodo (flatbread with millet flour, jowar, bajra etc). [Source: Ministry of Culture, Pakistan ]

Traditional Central Asia bread is eaten in some places. It is round and golden brown and usually sprinkled with sesame for protein and nutmeg to stimulate appetite. Central Asians are particularly fond of eating it with grapes and pilaf-style rice dishes. Round breads are mentioned in one of the world's oldest written works, "Gilgamesh", about the legendary Mesopotamian hero, who is said to have lived almost 5000 years ago. Round breads are baked in special clay ovens called tandirs.

Tandoori Dishes

Westerners particularly seem to enjoy "tandoors," meat or vegetables dishes cooked and served in special hot, clay, cylindrical ovens also called tandoors (tandirs) that are heated by a layer of charcoal or gas jets and cook items so quickly the meats remain succulent and tender.

Tandoori cooking originates from the Northwest Provinces of Pakistan. It was popularized by the Mughals. Tandoors are barrel-shaped and two to three feet high. In the old days they were made of clay strengthened with horsehair and encased in mud, concrete and meat and sunk into the ground or a counter. Today portable versions are available that are encased in galvanized steel and pulled on a dolly. The interior of proper oven is rubbed with a mixture of mustard oil, chopped spinach leaves, yogurt, salt and sugar to close the pores of the clay.

Items cooked in tandoor ovens include juicy and slightly charred meats like chicken tikka and delicious flatbbreads like naan and poori. meat, chicken, fish and vegetables are placed on long skewers that placed into the oven for a quick, sizzling cook. Tandoori chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked in a tandoor oven. Breads luke naan and made from rounds of dough placed on a small pillow of napkin and slapped against the sides of the oven. In less than two minutes, after the bread is puffed and slightly blistered, it is peeled from the sides with a skewer.

Ramadan and Eid Foods in Pakistan

Ramadan is the Muslim month of fasting. The fasting lasts from sunrise to sunset. No food or drinks, including water, may be consumed during that time. Most restaurants and food shops are closed during daylight hours but come alive after the sun goes down, when a festive atmosphere reigns. Breakfast must be finished before the sun rises. An the evening meal is eaten after sunset goes down. Children under the age of 12 are encouraged, but generally not expected, to fast. [Source:Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World, The Gale Group, Inc., 2002]

According to the Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Foods and Recipes of the World: “During Ramadan, Muslims rise before dawn to eat a meal called suhur (pronounced soo-HER). Foods containing grains and seeds, along with dates and bananas, are commonly eaten because they are considered slow to digest. This helps to ease hunger during the fast. At sunset, the day's fast is broken with iftar, a meal that traditionally starts with eating a date. After that, water, fruit juice, or lassi, and snacks such as samosas (meat or vegetable-filled pastries) are eaten, followed by dinner. Dinner may include tandoori chicken or lamb. If a family can afford it, dinner is shared with those less fortunate.”

Id al-Fitr (also spelled Eid al-Fitr), which celebrates the end of Ramadan. Id al-Fitr means the "Feast of Fast Breaking." The end of the Ramadan fasting period starts with a special breakfast of sheer kharma (a sweet dish), in which vermicelli is cooked in milk with dried dates, raisins, almonds, and other nuts. Crowds fill local bazaars to stock up on fruit, meat, and sweets as well as new clothes and presents. Family and friends visit and eat festive meals throughout the day. Families bring out their best dishes. Bowls filled with fruit are placed on tables. Beef, lamb, and fish dishes are eaten with rice, chapatis, and desserts.

Enjoying Fresh Samosas in Rural Punjab

Daniyal Mueenuddin wrote in The New Yorker: “““What’s this?” I asked, sniffing the scent of fried food. I had decided, while living at the farm, to keep to a strict diet: no booze, protein for breakfast and lunch, fruit for dinner, no snacks. At afternoon tea, Fezoo was to give me exactly three biscuits, in the evening, none. Though I drank endless cups of tea and glasses of lemonade, I lived with a little, gnawing hunger, a mortification. “Chaudhry Sameer Sahib sent this, from his own kitchen, made by his wife,” Fezoo answered. “Samosas.” “I’ll take just one,” I said, lifting the white cloth, which was dabbed here and there with the oil that had soaked through. [Source: Daniyal Mueenuddin, The New Yorker, December 3, 2012]

“The samosas were smaller than they usually are, two bites, very crisp, and fragrant, but with a minty fragrance. I lifted one of the carefully folded delicacies, looked at it, and then crunched into it. Delicious! Hot beef minced with spices crumbled onto my tongue. Fezoo had put the dish on the table, next to the tea things, and now I waved him away. “That’s fine, that’s fine,” I said.

“Six more samosas, like browned pats of butter, sat on the dish. The layered crusts flaked off onto the plate, which had an oily sheen. Sameer’s wife had even taken the trouble to heat the platter, to keep the treats warm. I washed my palate with milky tea, then lifted by its corner another of the dainty triangular morsels. Fabulous! This one had a different filling, little bits of potato, almost crunchy, and so spicy that my eyes watered. Another bite and it was gone. I must stop.

“Pouring myself more tea, adding milk and sugar, I eyed the platter, still charged with five delicate samosas. Each one seemed particular, unique, itself. I laughed. “For fuck’s sake,” I said to myself. “Don’t be such a fucking prune.” My stomach growled with eagerness. I took a sip of the newly poured tea, too hot, almost burning my tongue, then reached for another samosa. Different again! This one had a tomato-and-chicken filling, sweetish, but generously peppered. I worked my way through all the food on the platter, all the samosas, then finally, completely abandoning myself, licked the platter itself, and even that had a complex nutty flavor, the flakes of crust melting in my mouth.”

“These samosas had been made with close attention, with something akin to love. I had not had any human closeness, any loving contact, for six months, since I first came to Lahore and to the farm; but this food touched me, it had a message of concern in it, of interest, like a letter. I had never met Sameer’s wife, whom he could afford to keep in purdah, but I imagined the little courtyard in the manager’s house, shaded and cemented, with a separate kitchen outside, and the fat woman — she would certainly be fat — who with clean hennaed hands folded the paper-thin dough of the samosas. She dropped the filled, bulging savories one by one into boiling hot oil, furiously churning. I imagined the spattering and popping oil, the ladle with which she removed the browned little morsels. Perhaps Sameer sat by while she cooked, telling her to be careful, to make them well.”

Khyber’s Patta Tikka: Liver Wrapped in Fat

Patta tikka is a Shinwari dish comprised of small pieces of liver wrapped in a thin layer of fat. It is common throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and popular in Rawalpindi. Reporting from Rawalpindi, Aamir Yasin wrote in Dawn: “Saddar to Peshawar Road is filled with restaurants serving various tikkas which all use fat in their dishes. Though the recipes for most tikkas require the use of other spices, curd, tomatoes, green chillies and ginger, the patta tikka is a much simpler variant. Making patta tikka is simple. Wrap small pieces of liver lamb in a thin layer of fat, which is taken from the stomach of a lamb. Dust it with salt and grill it on an open fire for a few minutes on each side, until the fat is crisp and golden,” said Mohammad Bashir, a chef at a restaurant in Bahria Town. [Source: Aamir Yasin, Dawn, May 30, 2016]

“Usually, the meat for tikkas is marinated in spices, herbs and curd to make it tender, but there is no need to marinate liver for patta tikkas because it is already soft and only takes about 10 minutes to cook. It is done as soon as the fat melts,” he added. Mr Bashir said that people were turning towards milder and simpler foods, which is why restaurants were adding items like patta tikka to their menus.

“People want something different, said Murad Khan, the owner of another restaurant. He said traditional items like biryanis and karhais were no longer in demand. “That is why most restaurants have included dishes from foreign cuisines or those eaten in other parts of the country. Our chefs go to these areas and try to learn the original recipes so that we can offer our customers the original taste,” he said. “After trying the patta tikka, some of our customers even asked us to try wrapping pieces of kidney in fat the same way,” he added.

“Waseem Malik, who was waiting for his order of patta tikka on Kashmir Road, said that he had heard from his elders that to improve the functioning of the liver, one should eat a lamb’s liver. “That is why I think patta tikka is the healthier option. The fat is easier to digest as well,” he said. Raja Majid, who was visiting a local restaurant specialising in the tikkas with his family, said: “ Patta tikka is the better option because it is not spicy and does not upset the stomach.” He said the Shinwari dish was now popular with his family and recommended having the tikkas with hot naan, followed by green tea as is tradition in order to help digest the fat.”

High Food Prices Roil Pakistan

In February 2008, Pakistani Sheikh Rashid Ahmed blamed his party’s loss in parliamentary poll not on sectarian violence, terrorism or the war in Afghanistan but "because people were angry over the fact atta [flour] was not available, that food prices were high, and due to this they felt insecure." [Source: Simon Robinson, Time, February 27, 2008]

Simon Robinson wrote in Time: “Pakistanis have been grumbling about rising inflation for more than a year now, but in the past few months the sticker shock has grown much worse. Wheat prices have jumped by more than 20 percent since November, driven up by rising global prices as well as local hoarding ahead of the election and wheat smuggling into neighboring Afghanistan. The price of the gas that many Pakistanis use to cook with has also skyrocketed. January's inflation rate was nearly 12 percent, the highest in almost three years.

“Basic foodstuffs are now so expensive and scarce that people have begun queuing for hours at government stores, where it is cheaper because of subsidies. When those same people lined up to cast their ballot last week, many of them apparently voted against Musharraf's ruling party. "It played a very important role," says Saeed Chaudhry, an economics lecturer at the National University of Modern Languages. "Hungry people are not happy people."

Dealing with High Food Prices in Pakistan

Sidra Mushtaq, wrote on “In the last three or four years, there has been a sharp rise in food prices in Gujrat, Pakistan, where I live — especially for commonly needed products such as wheat, sugar, vegetables, fruits, and grains. My neighbors and friends say their incomes can’t keep up with food and oil prices, so they are reducing their daily food intake. Before this food price spike, they ate three times a day, now it’s twice. [Source: Sidra Mushtaq,, March 1, 2012]

“Meat is more expensive than milk and bread. Many people say that now they are not in a position to afford meat twice in a week. People are buying cheaper food rather than expensive nutritious items. One of my friends said she loved to eat salads, but now it's rare to enjoy a salad. Some poor people are now in extreme trouble, and they can’t pay the school fees of their children.

“Even better-off people are cutting back. One of my friends said that before food was so expensive, she considered herself to be part of the middle income class, and now she is in the lower-income category. Most of her income is used to purchase groceries. My uncle has diabetes, but has stopped his visits to the doctor. He doesn’t have money for medicine. His money is either spent on food, rent or transportation.

“My own family no longer goes to restaurants for lunch or dinner as we once did. We don’t have enough money for recreational activities. We are reducing our expenditures on luxuries, such as jewelry, electronics, dining, traveling, and clothes. Personally, I buy less fruit despite its nutritional value because it is expensive. Now, I grow food in my backyard. This season I grew garlic, coriander, spinach and radishes.

“I’m not growing enough food to provide a full meal for a family of seven. There are other grocery items, such as vegetables, I have to purchase from the market. But since vegetables are expensive, I am planning to grow some of my own soon. Other neighbors are also growing their own food. It helps them become self-sufficient, and to protect themselves against the surge in food prices. Sometimes, if there is extra crop, they share it with their relatives and neighbors.

“People can’t live without food. It’s essential. In times of high food prices, we should eat as simple and nutritious foods as possible. Places that throw away and waste food should be banned, and the consumption of luxurious food items should be discouraged. How are others coping with high food prices? Do you have innovative solutions?”

Sugar Shortage Causes Big Uproar in Pakistan

In 2009, Pakistan suffered a huge sugar shortage — even though it produces lots of the stuff. Growers said the shortage was the result of a drought; consumers blamed it on politics and greed. Sugar prices surged ahead of Ramadan when Pakistanis traditionally eat more sweet dishes to break their daily fast at dusk. Authorities say there was no shortage of sugar in the country and blamed hoarders for creating an “artificial crisis.” But things got so bad, Pakistan’s prime minister ordered his cook to stop making sweet dishes as part of a drive to bring down the price of sugar. [Source: Reuters, September 10, 2009]

Reporting from Kanjwani, Pamela Constable wrote in Washington Post: “From the busy and bucolic scene in this Punjab province village, it is hard to tell that Pakistan is in the throes of a national sugar crisis. Fields of tall green cane line the roads, and flatbed trucks piled with ripe stalks head for a modern mill that steadily crushes tons of cane into refined white crystals. [Source: Pamela Constable, Washington Post, November 28, 2009]

“But 200 miles north, in the crowded and chaotic city of Rawalpindi, the frustration of people waiting in long lines for emergency sugar rations often erupts into tirades against the government, the hoarders, the black marketeers and especially the wealthy families that dominate Pakistan's lucrative sugar industry. "Without sugar, my children will be crying when I get home. It is all because of strong people, the big owners and traders who have a lot of influence," said Syed Inayat, 40, a trash collector who was waiting for his sugar ration outside a government store one recent morning.

“Half a century ago, a sugar shortage helped bring down Pakistan's military regime. For the past four months, a similar shortage has led to skyrocketing prices and empty market shelves, sending consumers and officials into a panic. The protracted drama has been marked by riots and protests, arrests and raids, accusations of price-fixing and hoarding, rationed distribution in cities and direct intervention by the Supreme Court.

Pakistan is a nation of unabashed sugarholics, who heap the crystals in their breakfast tea and devour cakes at every special occasion. Sugar may be far less important to the national diet than wheat or cooking oil, but it looms much larger in the national psyche. And although Pakistan's judiciary is often viewed as a handmaiden of the ruling rural elites, the courts have stepped into the fray on behalf of consumers. The Supreme Court, headed by crusading Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, has upheld a September ruling by a Punjab court capping the retail price of sugar at about 25 cents a pound.

Struggling During Pakistan’s Sugar Shortage

Reporting from Gujar Khan, Alex Rodriguez wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “The women stood belly to back in a line that curled from underneath a canopy and into the withering sunshine, elbowing and shoving to keep their place. They waited for more than three hours until finally a huddle of men began unloading from a van what the gathering desperately wanted: sugar. [Source: Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2009|]

Some would pay 40 rupees, about 48 cents, for just over 2 pounds of sugar and walk away beaming. Others would arrive too late and resign themselves to returning the next day. "I come here every day but can't get any sugar," said Perveen Akhtar, 60, shouting above the market din in this northern Punjab city. "I've been waiting here for three hours. Why is this happening? Ask the people in high places."

“Pakistanis like their tea sweet and often, and without sugar their daily routine just isn't the same. But prices have soared as sugar mills allegedly hoard supplies, leading to chaotic lines at distribution points and another headache for the government. For a country wrapped up in an existential battle against extremists, the sugar crisis has attained unusual prominence. The issue dominates front pages and leads off newscasts. The timing factors heavily into the play; the shortages hit during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended over the weekend, when people savor a sweet cup of tea after their daily fast. It is also a time when Pakistanis, most of whom are poor, save whatever money they can to buy gifts and entertain, making special desserts, during Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

“The people lined up in Gujar Khan were just as pessimistic. Though the Lahore High Court has stepped into the fray and fixed the retail price of sugar at 40 rupees per kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, sugar remains scarce. "I've been coming here every day for the past month, and only once did I get sugar," said Sabir Hussain, 75, who had stood in a separate line for men for 3 1/2 hours. "I have six daughters and 16 grandchildren in my house. Our family is huge . . . I just hope we get sugar today."

McDonald’s and KFC in Pakistan

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) has 92 outlets in 31 major cities of Pakistan as of 2020, with 23 outlets in Karachi and 18 in Lahore. There are 24 KFC outlets in Pakistan in 2003. [Source: Wikipedia, 2021]

McDonald's Pakistan operates 71 outlets in 24 major cities (2020) with the largest number of outlets in Lahore, followed by Karachi and Islamabad-Rawalpindi. Cconsumers eat chicken, beef, fish, hamburger and cheeseburgers with a product range “that is slightly spicier because people want spicy food". In 2011, McDonald's Pakistan received the Golden Arch Award for brand quality, hygiene standards and customer service.

Products made for local tastes include: 1) the Mutton Burger, first introduced in 2014 for a limited time; 2) the Chicken Chapli Burger with a meat patty influenced by the chapli kebab, unveiled in 2017; 3) the McDonald's Bun Kebab, introduced for the first time in 2019, a knock-off from the famous Pakistani sandwich and street food item known by the same name. to McDonald's Pakistan said the latter was introduced because its extreme popularity in "every nook and corner of Pakistan", and because "a significant proportion of our customers refrain from indulging in a bun kabab due to the unhygienic conditions they are usually made in" typically at dhabas and shops. A McDonald's Lassi, made with Nestlé Pakistan, was introduced for a limited period during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Terrorist Attacks at McDonald’s and KFC in Pakistan

In September 2005, McDonald’s and KFC in Karachi were the target of a terrorist attack. AFP reported: “Twin bomb blasts wounded eight people at crowded KFC and McDonald's fast food restaurants, a senior provincial official said. Rauf Siddiqui, interior minister of southern Sindh province, said the explosions were linked to a nationwide strike called by opposition parties but the opposition denied any involvement. "We have very strong suspicions that the blasts were in connection with the opposition strike call," Siddiqui told AFP, adding that no one had been arrested yet in connection with the attacks. "Eight people were injured, mainly by flying glass," Siddiqui said. [Source: AFP, September 9, 2005]

“The first explosion happened in the KFC in Karachi's upscale Defence district at around 12:40 am (1940 GMT), injuring a number of people including a baby girl and her family, police and witnesses said. The device planted on the restaurant's mezzanine level shattered its plate glass windows and blew a hole in a concrete wall. "I was having a meal by myself when I heard a big explosion and all the windows were blown in," witness Mohammed Nehan told AFP. "The family near me were all rushed to hospital afterwards." The second blast happened behind the kitchen at a crowded McDonald's kiosk around two kilometers (more than one mile) on the Karachi seafront. There were no injuries. [Source: AFP, September 9, 2005]

“The explosions came hours before the strike, called by Islamic and secular opposition groups in response to recent talks between Pakistan and Israel and a crackdown on religious schools by President Pervez Musharraf. "They were just crackers, not bombs, and apparently it was an attempt to terrorise and harass people, compelling them to stay at home today to make the strike a success," Siddiqui said. The opposition denied any involvement, saying the bombs were planted by government agents. "The blasts were carried out by those who are accusing us... it is a peaceful strike," Mairaj-ul-Huda, city chief of the Jamaat Islaami party, told AFP.

“Western fast food chains have previously been targeted by Islamic hardliners in Pakistan, while Karachi has long been plagued by sectarian and religious violence. On May 30, a Shiite Muslim mob torched another KFC in Karachi in revenge for a suicide attack on a nearby Shiite mosque, allegedly carried out by a Sunni extremist group. Four KFC employees perished in the flames while two froze to death after hiding in a cold storage room.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (, Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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