Conventional Baltistan Meals – Household Meal and Hospitality in Skardu, Pakistan

The normal meals of Baltistan contains numerous distinctive dishes that I’ve by no means had anyplace else.

We flew into Skardu, Gilgit-Baltistan, a magically stunning place that exists as an Autonomous area integrated into the boundaries of Pakistan. It was an honor to go to throughout my journey to Pakistan.

The spotlight of my time in Skardu, was being invited to an area household residence the place they cooked 14 conventional Balti dishes.

I’m going to share this wonderful meals with you on this publish.

Traditional Balti Food in Pakistan
Household residence in Skardu, Hospitality and Conventional Balti Delicacies

“Hospitality is Our Tradition” – Balti Saying

On this article, I’m going to be focusing primarily on the standard meals of Baltistan. I wish to say although, that when mixed with the acute hospitality of the folks right here, the complete journey expertise was some of the heart-warming of my life.

Throughout our journey to Baltistan, we had been hosted on the stunning Serena Shigar Fort Resort, a few thirty minute drive from Skardu. Within the night we drove again to Skardu to an area household residence, the place that they had been cooking for the complete day and anticipating our arrival.

After we arrived to their residence, we had been greeted with tea and excessive hospitality and welcome.

I’m not going to say all 14 Balti dishes on this article, however I’ll spotlight the standout dishes.

Baltistan food
Hearty conventional soup of Baltistan

Balay – conventional soup

Being a chilly mountainous area, there are few issues extra warming and satisfying when it’s chilly exterior, than soup. And soup in Baltistan in not a watery affair, however relatively the balay because it’s recognized, is thick and hearty and eats virtually like a gravy.

Together with the goat meat broth that fashioned the flavour and base, there have been hearty gummy textured noodles and smalls bits of meat blended inside. It was an effective way to start our conventional Baltistan meals meal in Skardu.

Gilgit Baltistan
Thick wheat noodles and walnut paste

Prapu (wheat noodles and walnut paste)

Prapu is a noodle dish thickened with almonds which were floor to a powder. The noodles are hand-made utilizing wheat flour, then boiled till gentle. When prepared, they’re coated in a thick paste which incorporates floor walnuts and pressed apricot oil, and the entire pot is then seasoned with native herbs.

The seasoning contains regionally grown high-plateau herbs, a number of of which I’ve by no means seen anyplace else. Recipes are very arduous to search out, however I might positively style fenugreek seeds, and there may additionally be potato within the thick sauce as properly.

A lot of the dishes listed here are made solely from native substances, many components of the recipe produced from scratch by the households. You’ll be able to instantly see that Balti delicacies is exclusive, very completely different from meals in Pakistan’s low-land and river-basin areas.

Be aware: Dish names on a menu could also be spelled otherwise (ie. Prapoo, Prabu, Plapoo). Additionally, thanks to the Rareseeds web site for serving to me with names of the spices and seasonings utilized in Balti Delicacies.

Baltistan cuisine
Numerous entire grains in Baltistan delicacies

Gyal (buckwheat muffins)

There are numerous completely different variations of Gyal (or Giyal), however all of them use an area species of Purple or Brown buckwheat as the primary ingredient.

These had been one in every of my favourite meals in the course of the time spent in Baltistan, and I really like the heartiness within the easy mixture of wheat muffins coated in apricot oil. Gyal has a scrumptious smoky taste from being cooked on a flat iron plate, often over a wood-burning range or fireplace.

Some Gyal are coated with honey, we had one with a gorgeously candy smelling apricot jam, and within the city of Gilgit we additionally had a model full of a thick unfold of walnut and almond paste.

Traditional Balti Marzan in Skardu
Marzan is an incredible and easy dish that can energize the physique within the cool air of Skardu

Marzan (buckwheat with apricot oil)

Soaking in water earlier than being milled, the wheat grains take about two weeks earlier than they’re able to be floor. This provides the flour a sweeter style, and it is a nice meals to have in the course of winter when the climate is extraordinarily chilly exterior.

It is a uncommon dish that can often be eaten on particular events, because the wheat is ready in such a selected and well timed approach.

A bowl of pure apricot oil is served on a small mound of Marzan, gooey, however barely dry wheat dough. The consistency of the wheat is similar to the way it seems, virtually like dumpling or cookie dough.

Marzan could be very easy, but filling and satisfying, virtually like a cold-weather model of this wonderful meal in Ethiopia. This dish offers numerous vitality to individuals who historically work outdoor year-round within the mountain environments of Baltistan.

Pakistani food
Easy boiled goat

Boiled goat

Animals that produce milk are crucial to the Balti folks, and so they’re often raised for his or her milk and never eaten as an day-after-day meals.

As with many components of the world the place folks dwell in additional self-reliant environments, the cooking and getting ready of a complete animal is likely one of the methods of highest respect to welcome a visitor into one’s residence.

The goat was boiled with a couple of small greens like onions and carrots, however with very minimal spice and seasoning. It was served nonetheless on the bone, and self service to slice off a bit. The meat is tender from being boiled, however it additionally has a beautiful goat-meat muscle toughness. You already know instantly by means of the flavour that this was a home-raised animal, and never from a meat farm.

Consuming the complete goat like this was certainly a special day, and every hearty chew of goat meat was invaluable and loved to the fullest.

Goat Stew in Skardu
A few of Central Pakistan’s dishes like this Stew are additionally fashionable in Skardu

Potato stew with goat

Thought of to be some of the inaccessible and distant areas in the complete world, Gilgit-Baltistan has solely just lately had highway entry even to its personal nation and capital (roads in-built 1978).

This has allowed many conventional practices to proceed till as we speak, meals in addition to tradition, and a stew like that is one is eaten commonly now, however not a conventional Balti dish.

It is a curry in that the substances are fried to make a closely spiced sauce earlier than including water, however then it’s served as a really thick stew. It is filled with massive chunks of goat meat, potatoes, and a seasoning mix way more spicy than what we noticed in additional conventional meals of Baltistan.

Within the curry you may style the masala spices together with cumin, black pepper, turmeric powder, and dried ginger, but the spices are sometimes milder than in different components of Pakistan, like in Punjab.

Balti Butter Tea in Skardu
Add a spoon of buckwheat flour to make the tea extremely thick and creamy

Butter tea

One of many backbones of Balti delicacies is definitely a drink. This isn’t your common tea nonetheless, and it’s way more than merely getting ready inexperienced or black leaves in scorching water.

This tea comprises salt, butter, milk, and is made with pre-brewed inexperienced tea leaves. It’s served with a aspect of contemporary floor wheat flour, and a small dish of pure apricot oil which you add to private style.

Combine in a spoon every of the brown flour and the golden apricot oil, and revel in a warming and thick combination of a few of the richest liquid conceivable. In some locations it’s conventional even for a number of cups of butter tea to be a complete breakfast, and stable meals wouldn’t be eaten till one has already begun work for the day.

Throughout this complete mountain area from Tibet to Bhutan, butter tea is loved and it’s so well-loved by these mountain dwelling peoples that you would be able to’t presumably go to with out having not less than a couple of cups collectively.

Beautiful surroundings in Shigar, Gilgit-Baltistan

House-Cooking in Gilgit-Baltistan

It was fantastic to eat within the household’s own residence, within the conventional model the place the household and company collect collectively to share a meal. This creates a really cosy atmosphere, a spot the place everybody concerned can share the meal, and it was a beautiful probability to simply sit and speak collectively after dinner.

The folks of Baltistan are actually fantastic, and a spotlight of the journey was sharing these meals experiences with a few of the most pleasant and hospitable folks I’ve ever had the pleasure to fulfill.

We had been very honored to be welcomed with such an abundance of meals from this household in Skardu and to have an opportunity to find out about conventional Baltistan meals.

Sharing tea after the meal, laughing collectively, and having fun with the scrumptious home-cooked meals, this time spent with the Balti folks in Skardu is an expertise I’ll always remember.