Traditional cuisine: there is more to Balochistan than meets the eye
- Imtiaz Baloch
- Sep 26, 2023
Balochistan, renowned not only for its bountiful natural resources but also for the warm hospitality of its people, offers a culinary landscape as diverse and vibrant as its landscape. The Baloch people have a distinct palate, favoring meat and milk as staples on their dining tables, prepared in a myriad of traditional ways with locally sourced ingredients.
When discussing Balochistan’s culinary heritage, Sajji unquestionably takes center stage. This dish, though considered a delicacy, carries a heavy price tag due to the province’s ongoing struggle with drought, which has inundated pasturelands in recent years. To combat this challenge, the Balochistan government has allocated significant resources to revitalize the province’s traditional economy. Sajji, typically prepared with mutton, is the preferred choice among the Baloch people. To savor this mouthwatering delight, it is imperative to procure the dish’s ingredients from local markets, ensuring an authentic taste that should not be missed.
Tabaeeg and Laandhi:
Known as Tabaeeg among the Baloch people and Laandhi among Pashtoons, this dried meat delicacy is a culinary bridge between the two ethnicities. While Laandhi is more common in the Pashtun areas of Balochistan, it has also found its way into Baloch-populated regions. The preservation of meat involves traditional methods employing salt and spices. This dish is especially popular among those residing near the Koh-e-Sulaiman mountain range.
Kadikabab is a lavish dish featuring whole goat or lamb cooked with a medley of ancient and local spices, delivering a rich and distinctive flavor. The meat is barbecued over smoky, coal-fired embers, making it a go-to choice for special occasions. This culinary masterpiece often includes lamb stuffed with rice, enhancing its taste and texture.
Sheer-o-Rogan, a blend of creamy milk and Desi Ghee, is a staple in Balochistan’s villages, mountains, and plains. Due to the region’s vast expanses, people rely on this simple yet nourishing dish, especially in areas where markets are few and far between. Sheer-o-Rogan is typically devoid of spices, although some may choose to enjoy it without Desi Ghee. Caution is advised, as consuming this dish may induce drowsiness.
Referred to as Urood in the Rakshan belt of Balochistan and as Sheelanch in Makaran, this dried milk preparation goes by various names due to the province’s diverse phonetics. Today, this dish is enhanced with different vegetables, with aubergine being a popular addition, making it an irresistible treat.
Banklenk stands as a beloved vegetable dish cherished by the people of Balochistan, gracing their dining tables with its delectable presence.
Historian Panah Baloch highlights the significance of leaf-based dishes, such as saag, which incorporates spinach, mustard leaf, Basella, and other wild plants. These dishes, which include Kulkusht, Mager, Kalhook, and more, are now rare, as they are primarily found in the desert and plain areas of the province. Women must exert considerable effort to gather these wild ingredients.
Fish occupies a prominent place in the coastal areas of Balochistan. Residents near the sea relish fried fish, often paired with rice. A variety of seafood, including shrimp, lojari, soroo, pomfret, and jeenga, grace their dining tables. Fishermen also prepare partially fried fish with spices, catering to the markets of Balochistan.
Balochistan boasts a wide array of bread, or naan, offerings. Common roti is a staple, while Shurdi, a paratha-like roti, is reserved for special occasions and joyous gatherings. Shurdi is a delightful combination of Desi Ghee, sugar, flour, and a touch of water. Kurnoo, another type of roti, is cooked on heated stones, historically carried by travelers to stave off hunger during journeys.
Gwadari Halwa, a beloved Balochistan sweet, has a fascinating history rooted in the annexation of Gwadar by Oman. Crafted by a Hindu shopkeeper named Bandai, this delightful treat’s recipe was perfected by his apprentice, Khudabux. Today, it’s a cherished gift for special occasions, made using clarified butter, flour, food coloring, and a sprinkle of dry fruits.
Dishes At The Verge of Extinction
Mashak is a local delicacy enjoyed in the coastal regions of Balochistan, particularly by the people of Gwadar and fishermen. It is a pulse-based dish commonly consumed as a breakfast item before venturing into the ocean for fishing. Mashak is rarely found in other parts of Balochistan.
Dadoki stands out as a robust form of roti, made with Desi Ghee and flour, capable of lasting for weeks. This flavorful dish pairs excellently with green tea.
Kashak and Droog-e-Badeer:
Kashak, crafted from sour milk and flour, is a scarce find in modern-day Balochistan. Similarly, Droog-e-badeer is a rare delicacy, albeit still present in some parts of the province. This dish incorporates tomatoes, salt, spices, water, and roti, offering a unique and tantalizing taste.
Madar (Date Halwa)
Balochistan’s Madar, or Date Halwa, is a simple yet delicious dessert. It starts with clarified butter heated in a pan, followed by semolina flour. In another pan, dates are cooked into a paste, combined with desi ghee, and mixed with the roasted semolina. The result is a delightful treat that can be garnished with almonds or other dry fruits.
Balochistan’s culinary tapestry is a testament to the rich traditions and flavors of its people, reflecting a harmonious blend of history, culture, and resourcefulness. While some dishes may be rare, their legacy continues to captivate the senses and preserve the culinary heritage of this extraordinary region.