So from Europe we head East again and back Pakistan, a sovereign country in South East Asia which is officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is the most inhabited country with a population well over 190 million people. The land mass area covers over 790,000 square km which makes it, in relation to area/land mass the 36th largest country in the world. It has a maritime border of approximately 650 miles along the Gulf of Oman in the South and the Arabian Sea. To its East is India, Southwest is Iran, China is Northeast and Afghanistan is to the West.
The country the now we know as Pakistan was previously homeland to many ancient cultures, including the Mehrgarh of theNeolithic and the Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilisation. Following this period it was a home to realms ruled by those of different cultures and faiths including Hindus, Indo-Greeks, Muslims, Turco-Mongols, Afghans and Sikhs. Pakistan has been ruled by a number of dynasties and empires and latterly British Empire and as a result of the this the Pakistan Movement – which was a historic and then a winning political movement that aspired for the independence of Pakistan from the British Empire, and to create a new and self governing nation state – Pakistan was created in 1947 as an independent state for Muslims. At first Pakistan was a dominion. However in 1956 Pakistan adopted a new constitution which saw them become an Islamic Republic. In 1971 there was a civil war which resulted in the separation of East Pakistan and become the new country of Bangladesh.
Pakistan comprises of four provinces and four federal territories. It comprises of many languages and many major ethnic groups with similar disparity to its wildlife and geography. It has the seventh largest standing armed forces in the world, is the 26th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and 45th in terms of nominal GDP (Growth Domestic Product) and is also characterised among the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world.
The cuisine of Pakistan is a sophisticated mix of numerous local cooking traditions of South Asia. It is quite like food from North India, but merges obvious influences/flavours – and more meat orientated – from Middle Eastern and Central Asia. The mix of Mughlai cuisine is by far the most well liked food found in most Pakistani restaurants. Cooking varies from area to area revealing the country’s cultural and ethnic variety. Eastern areas of Punjab and Sindh food can be spicy and greatly seasoned, typical of the tastes of the South Asian region. Food in other parts of Pakistan, particularly Balochistan, Azad Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas also have clear tastes based on various local sways.
Our eldest son – Alastair – trawled the net today to try and find us something to cook and eat and it transpired that our love for Indian and food from this part of the world, we had already, over the many years, have been cooking Asian food already tried and eaten. So tonights brief was to find something we hadn’t had and I believe he did it.. Nihari (Indian beef Stew). Nihari is
“A beef stew popular in the northern region of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Nothing tastes better than aromatic and spice-laden beef stew where the meat is so tender it falls off the bone.”
So here we go, our attempt at this, what looks delightful, Nihari..