Pakistani cuisine is known for its rich flavors which are derived from the use of many spices (some of which are used in most United States households). The main diet consists of beef, chicken, lamb and fish. Pork is rarely used due to religious restrictions. Vegetables, breads, various pastas and fresh fruit are also an important part of the Pakistani diet.
This cuisine differs greatly from one region to another. In the southern provinces, the foods are highly seasoned and very spicy making them more akin to Northern Indian cuisines. In the Federal Administrative Tribal area, milder spices are used with foods being prepared with less oil.
In the typical Pakistani home, three meals are consumed each day with snacks often enjoyed later in the evening following dinner or in mid afternoon. Breakfast usually consists of eggs cooked in styles commonly used in the United States. Breads and pasta are also served along with fresh fruits. One popular breakfast dish is Shami Kabob which is a small meat patty garnished with mint chutney.
A favored dish during the noon meal is Gobhi which is very similar to meat and potato curry found in southern areas of the United States. A popular snack often consumed between lunch and the evening meal is Chana Masala, which is a vegetable dish featuring chickpeas. These snacks are often purchased from street vendors.
The evening meal consisting of meat, vegetables,and sweets is always served on the floor covered by a dastarkan cloth. Green tea without sugar is usually served with various types of bakery sweets. Salad is always served as a side dish but never as an appetizer or before the main course. By long standing tradition, the evening meal is served to the entire family as a group gathered around the dastarkan. This is felt to be the most important time of the day with the goal being to share food, conversation and the happenings in individual schedules together.
One very popular Pakistani dish found in the United States is Halal Chicken Biryani whose main ingredient is chicken with no bones marinated in yogurt and spices.