For the last four weeks, I have been searching for that ideal location to gorge on delectable shinwari karahi and chapali kebabs in the UAE. While looking for the perfect venue to satisfy my desi culinary desires, I stumbled upon the lively Arshad Shabir Baloch’s YouTube channel. I looked at his profile and those enticing dishes and immediately knew what to do. You guessed correctly! I called him up and we talked about the three W’s of eating: what to eat, where to eat, and when to eat.
Baloch, who has lived in the UAE for the past six years, is a native of Dera Ghazi Khan, a city in the southwest region of the Pakistani province of Punjab. Owner of a technical service company, Baloch enjoys trying out different foods and considers himself a foodie.
His passion for Pakistani culture and cuisine has led him on numerous culinary adventures. Baloch is a man with a passion to promote the stories of the food through his YouTube channel, Arshad Shabir Diary, while remaining humble and true to his heritage. Throughout our conversation, I truly enjoyed learning about the country through his words. According to Baloch, From Mandi to Biryani, to Vimto and Rooh Afza, it is evident that Pakistan has heavily influenced the cuisine of the UAE. He noticed some strikingly similar parallels between Pakistani and Emirati food. Baloch also believes that Pakistani food is a melting pot of cuisines from all over the world.
“Everywhere I go, I make sure to compare the food to what I had in Pakistan. It’s how I comfort myself when living away from home. Thanks to our tempting spices, which have become a staple of many Khaleeji meals, Pakistani culture has somehow influenced Middle Eastern culture.”
Scanning through his social media, it appeared that the best food is often the prettiest. While people eat with their eyes, the reality is that flavour is always that taste which brings people back to the plate. It isn’t that people want to eat with their eyes closed, but the flavour should be the most important part of any dish.
Despite the diversity of Pakistani cuisine, Baloch lists some of his personal favourites that are significant historically. Firstly, Baloch shared about mutton sajji, which is a traditional Balochi dish. He said: “It is popularly made with whole lamb or chicken, or big pieces of lamb or goat (like the leg of a goat). These whole lambs, chickens, etc are attached to skewers, marinated in simple spices and roasted over coals. They are sometimes even stuffed with rice. The aroma of coal and spices makes it irresistible, and it’s worth a try.”
Exploring food and culture can be a delicious journey. With a diverse population of 220.9 million, the taste and preparation of cuisine can vary by location. For Baloch, Pakistan’s northern curries and spices have a special place in the country’s culinary heritage. “The provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab are known for their consumption of the traditional Pakistani meal known as sohbat. It is one of the oldest regional foods that has been described in writing. The natives enjoy eating the paper-thin, shredded chapatis with the shorba stew, which is thin enough to soak them entirely.”
Pakistanis love to eat and are devoted to their flavourful and vibrant cuisine. In response to a question about the popularity of the country’s various cuisines, Baloch states: “Pakistan is a country of people with many traditions and cultures that need to be showcased on a global stage. To achieve that, we need inputs from more regional bloggers sharing their cultural journey with their audience.”
Before ending the conversation, Baloch wished his fellow Pakistanis who were celebrating Independence Day around the globe a Happy Independence Day and wished for more content to be produced from the nation that would offer perspectives on the stunning locations, cuisine, history, and customs.
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