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British-Pakistani blogger Mariam Sheikh, a London-bred communications specialist and food enthusiast joins our World in London challenge, to talk about the joys of savouring Pakistani cuisine in London.
Where can you find Pakistan in London? Well, with the Office for National Statistics stating there are around 180,000 Londoners of Pakistani descent, the answer to that question is “just about anywhere!”
Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest are where you can find the largest Pakistani communities in the city. Pockets in West and South London such as Tooting and Wembley are also home to thriving Pakistani communities.
Like other Londoners of South Asian decent, considerable numbers of Pakistanis have set up their own businesses, including grocery stores and newsagents, as well as myriad restaurants offering tantalising and mouth-watering Pakistani cuisine.
Pakistani cuisine is not all that different from Indian cuisine (it was once the same country after all) and restaurants in London have often marketed themselves along the lines of the traditional Indian curry house. But there are slight differences; Pakistani cuisine is likely to have lots of barbequed and grilled meat, with some – but less – sauce dishes than other South Asian restaurants and hardly any fruit or coconut used in curries.
Today there are many Pakistani restaurants that are gaining confidence to break the mould of the “curry house” image; some market their food specifically as Pakistani and most offer a modern, contemporary and affordable dining experience. Areas in London have developed where entire streets are full of South Asian restaurants, and many of the most popular ones offer Pakistani cuisine.
Some of my top Pakistani restaurant picks are:
- Lahore Karahi and Spice Village in Tooting
- Tayyabs in Whitechapel
- Bandu Khan in Aldgate
- Raavi kebab in Euston
Biriyani, masala fish, seekh kebab, tandoori lamb chops and falooda are all typical on a Pakistani menu and are sure to have your lips smacking at their appetising aroma. So next time you’re in these areas be sure to make your way down to the nearest Pakistani restaurant and savour the delectable flavours for yourself!
What’s your experience of Pakistani culture in London? Tell us in the comments below.