Charcoal & Sunshine: The Barbecue culture of Pakistan

By Sumayya Usmani •


For National Barbecue Week, we thought it would be interesting to look at barbecued food from the Indian subcontinent. New Great British Chefs guest blogger, Sumayya Usmani better known as the Pukka Paki, shares two of her favourite Pakistani BBQ recipes - and a delicious recipe for barbecued corn.

Blog post & photography by Sumayya Usmani aka Pukka Paki 

When most people think Pakistani cuisine they think heavy slow cooked curries, deep fried pakoras and maybe the occasional chicken tikka starter; but what many people don't know is that Pakistani cuisine is really big on barbecue - in fact some of the main specialities in Pakistan are grilled meats - barbecued lamb, fish, chicken and mutton, paneer and vegetables as well. 

My best memories of eating barbecued food in Pakistan are at the ever popular "BBQ Tonite", an open air restaurant which is a haven for all BBQ lovers - here you can sample some of the best grilled food of the region - Barbecued fish from the Arabian sea, simple and delicate Afghani kebabs, Karachi-style spicy chicken tikkas, and some Mughal inspired barbecued meats. These are always served with an abundance of freshly cut salads, tamarind chutney, mint and coriander chutney and freshly baked Tandoori breads, deep fried parathas and hot naans - washed down with cooling lassi or ice cold seasonal fruit juices (raw mango, pomegranate, sugar cane to name a few!).  This is an experience that can not be forgotten.

In honour of National Barbecue Week in the UK, I have included two of my favourite BBQ recipes - as well a Pakistani street food style grilled corn on the cob. The chicken skewers recipe has a Mughal twist, using saffron, cream/yoghurt, garam masala and browned onions. This gives it a haunting aroma and flavour, which is quintessential of Mughali food. Secondly, I've included a  lamb chop marinated in a green chutney with tamarind and jaggery - a balance of sweet, savoury, hot and salty.

Finally, a bit of nostalgia is thrown in with one of my favourite street foods - Barbecued corn "Bhutta",  you find this on the streets of Pakistan, cooked till the kernels are charred and served with a rub of  lime or lemon dipped in salt and red chili - simple yet mouthwatering. 

Now back to the UK - the sun is shining, it's National Barbecue Week  and there's no excuse not to light up and slap some meat and vegetables onto that grill!

Barbecued Chicken skewers marinated in saffron, garam masala, Greek yogurt and lemon

Serves about 3-5 people and takes about 20 minutes to cook (minus marinating time)

500 grams of chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 - 1 1/2 cup Greek yoghurt, whipped or 1 cup of fresh double cream
1 pinch of saffron (soaked in a tsp of hot water for 15 minutes, before adding to marinade)
1 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup browned onion paste (fry about 1 big onion until brown, drain on kitchen paper and mince. This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge)
1/2 lemon, squeezed
2 tbsp vegetable oil (not olive or rapeseed oil as these will alter the subtle flavour of this marinade)

1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whip into a thick marinade, add the oil and whip further. 
2. Pop the chicken pieces in and marinate 2-6 hours or overnight.
3. String chicken on to skewers and barbecue until done (you can put some vegetables on either side if you wish). Serve with a tomato chutney and naan breads.

Barbecued Lamb chops marinated in green chutney with tamarind and jaggery

Serves about 3- 5 people and takes about 5-10 minutes to cook (minus marination time)

500 grams meaty lamb chops

Make the green chutney:
1 large bunch of fresh coriander leaves
1/2 bunch mint leaves
1 tsp garlic paste
3/4 tsp ginger paste
1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tsp of cumin seeds (dry roasted in a pan until light brown) or use ground cumin powder
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp jaggery (can be found in most big supermarkets, but if you struggle, use brown sugar)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt or to taste

1. In a blender, place all the ingredients for the green chutney and whizz into a smooth thick paste. Add the marinade to lamb and marinate 2 hours to overnight.
2. Grill on barbecue until cooked to taste. Serve with tamarind chutney and paratha breads.

Barbecued Corn on the cob, rubbed with lime, salt and red chilli

1-2 corn on the cob, cleaned and boiled for about 5-8 minutes in hot boiling water
Vegetable oil for brushing
To serve:
Slices of lime and lemon 
mixture of salt and red chilli powder in equal quantities 

1. Grill the corn on the barbecue, keep brushing with oil until all the sides are slightly black and the corn is cooked through.
2. To serve, dip the lemon or limes in the chilli salt and rub all over. Enjoy as an accompaniment to the meat dishes above!

Blog post & photography by Sumayya Jamil aka Pukka Paki 

Which vegetables have you barbecued?  What sort of marinade and sauce do you use?  Let us know over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.

 

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Sumayya Usmani

Sumayya wants to spread her love of Pakistani food – to introduce the haunting flavours of Pakistani cuisine and create an awareness of its authenticity, its difference from Indian food and to map a journey of her happy and safe memories of growing up in Pakistan. 

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