Pakistan boasts a rich and diverse food history and culture that reflects the country’s vibrant heritage and the influences of various civilisations that have shaped it over centuries. Pakistani cuisine is a tapestry of flavours, colours, and aromas, offering a culinary experience that is both diverse and delicious.
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, and the British Council, proudly launched ‘Pakistan’s Museum of Food’. It is the largest and most comprehensive exploration of Pakistani cuisine online, featuring over 9000 Images, 90 videos and hundreds of stories that capture the vibrant culinary tapestry of Pakistan’s five provinces and beyond. Seamlessly interwoven with recipes from the global Pakistani diaspora that enrich the understanding of how culinary heritage transcends borders. The project aims to preserve and celebrate the culture and heritage of Pakistani food, as well as to document its dynamic evolution and progression.
Project Director, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, said, “Pakistan’s culinary heritage is an intrinsic part of the country’s cultural identity, but with the passing of generations and the challenges brought about by climate change, certain domestic practices and traditional recipes are at high risk of being lost. In response to this looming crisis, we embarked on a mission to not just reminisce about the flavours of yesteryears, but to actively preserve and revitalise the vanishing recipes and customs that define our past. We hope that this project will inspire people to explore, appreciate, and enjoy the vibrant culinary culture, lineage and food practices of Pakistan, as well as to contribute their own stories and recipes.”
“From the mountains of the north to the bazaars of the south, Pakistan is a land of diverse landscapes and traditions, all of which are reflected in its cuisine. An online feast for the senses, we’re thrilled to unveil the vibrant flavours and rich culture of Pakistan,” shared Amit Sood, Director and founder of Google Arts & Culture.
The team explored the genesis of iconic dishes across all four provinces, capturing the essence of Pakistan’s culinary and cultural diversity. From the coastal allure of Gwadar’s seafood to Multan’s decadent Sohan Halwa, and the innovative incorporation of yak meat in Hunza, the crew travelled through Pakistan's varied terrain to illuminate how regional topography moulds the nation’s distinct eating patterns. Venturing to a multitude of eateries across the country, the cohort of filmmakers aimed to capture the essence of traditional dining practices while tracing the nuanced impact of modernisation on the nation’s evolving palate. The project covers a wide range of topics, such as: The impact of climate change on eating habits and the efforts of organisations like PODA (Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy), run by Samina Nazir in Chakwal, that promote sustainable agricultural practices. The role of women in preserving culture and cuisine and their substantial contributions to the agricultural sector; The multitude of communities residing within Pakistan that have their own cherished traditional dishes, such as Parsis, Goans, Hazaras, Bohris, and Gujaratis; The meticulous craftsmanship andcooking techniques that are intrinsic to Pakistani cuisine, such as sun-drying and re-hydrating vegetables in Thar, preserving Lahndi meat in Balochistan, and crafting lentils into Vadiyun and Papar in Upper Sindh; The preservation of heirloom recipes passed down for generations, such as Azra Syed’s Biryani and Zarda, and PJ’s jars’ of achaars; The diverse eating practices and the communal aspect of food that foster connections and nurture a sense of community, such as shared dining experiences at Dastarkhwans.
The website is not just a repository; but an immersive experience that invites exploration, storytelling, and a deeper connection to the rich food traditions that bind us together.
- You! desk