Traditional Food in Lahore – 33 Famous Dishes You Have To Try

By now you’ve realized, we love food…and why shouldn’t we? We’re from Lahore, aren’t we? And we’d love for you to try out all our amazingly iconic foods that the city offers; because if you haven’t had all the street food in Lahore, well, did you even visit us! [Feature Image via IG @thefoodieconnoisseur]

We have compiled a list of traditional food in Lahore and the different restaurants or cafes you can try these foods at. Hopefully, your taste buds will enjoy all these delicious treats as much as ours do: here we go!

Traditional Food in Lahore

1. Halwa Puri

Halwa Puri is a traditional desi breakfast that Lahoris love with all their hearts. The authentic taste of Halwa Puri will always take you back to old Lahore: with the best taste in the city! Zafar Halva Puri definitely takes the lead on this. It’s outdoor street dining (well not exactly dining, but what’s the proper Lahore experience if you don’t SIT on the street and have your food?!) where you are served fresh puris so you can eat them to your fill. Next up is their halwa – halwa is a sweet breakfast dish enjoyed fully by everyone. The pairing of halwa puri is just wonderful for everyone to start off a lazy Sunday with!

If Zafar Halwa Puri feels a little further away for you to go try it, don’t worry. There’s quite a lot of famous Halwa Puri places within the city, and probably close enough to you as well, for you to try! Capri and Bundu Khan are two well-known names. Capri serves their Halwa Puri early morning, fresh off the stove for the customers to enjoy quickly. Located in Liberty Market, this little restaurant sells out of Halwa Puri quite quickly, so if you want to have a bite here, make sure you reach early in the morning and enjoy their food! You don’t want to be late, because you’re likely not to get anything after 11 AM.

Just opposite Capri, we have Bundu Khan. Bundu Khan generally serves some of the best desi dishes in Lahore, hence, having a really good breakfast as well! Their specialty is the breakfast platter: you get channa, halwa, yogurt, and also bhujiya in the platter that you can enjoy heartily with your puris. If you want, you can always pair this platter up with their beloved Lassi, and be ready to just snooze after you get home then! Bundu Khan is further located in CC Market Phase 4 DHA, in Gaddafi Stadium, Emporium Mall, and Packages Mall. 

2. Paye

Paye is a favorite dish amongst Pakistanis. This traditional dish includes the hooves of goats, sheep, or even buffalos, which are slow-cooked with different spices to make gravy. Enjoyed with naan or khameeri rotis, Paye is often loved by most as a breakfast dish as well. 

If you love Paye, well, you have to try out Phajjay Ke Paye if you still haven’t. Again, going back to the walled city of Lahore, located in Kali Beri Bazaar, “Phajja Siri Paye” is well known across the city. It is a streetfood style restaurant, so you probably need to bear that in mind before going there for dine-in – but just remember that the taste is 100% worth the trip and sit in. The reason Phajja is so famous is because of the perfect blend of spices and slow-cooked trotters that make it taste soft and delicious. You’ve got to try it yourself to know that it is definitely worth the hype!

3. Nihari

If you haven’t tried Nihari yet, this is your sign to do so. Nihari is a traditional dish that was loved by the Mughal Emperors, a meal they would enjoy as a morning meal after their morning prayers. It includes slow-cooked meat and stew, flavored with spices that have an effect of a burst of flavors in your mouth. The meat of Nihari is so tender, it literally melts in your mouth the moment you ingest it, so trust us when we say you have to try it. 

Waris Nihari, located on Abkari Road in Anarkali (old Lahore) has made a name for itself. This is also a roadside dhabba/restaurant that offers seating on the street for you to sit and enjoy their delicious Nihari and khasta (fresh) naan or khameeri roti. Nihari is topped off usually with ginger, cilantro, and even lemon according to your liking. The experience here is great, if you want to try authentic Lahori Nihari – you won’t be disappointed. 

If you’re looking to try this stew dish somewhere closer inside the city, then Muhammadi Nihari comes at a very close second to Waris Nihari. Muhammadi Nihari has quite a lot of branches across Lahore, including Johar Town, Gulberg, and several spots in DHA. Their Beef Fry Nihari is one you should definitely try!

4. Channa

Googa Murgh Channay is extremely famous as well. Murgh Channa is a dish that includes chicken slow-cooked with chickpeas to form a gravy full of traditional spices, once again, enjoyed with naan or khameeri roti, whichever is your preference. People of Lahore crave this dish and enjoy it at Googa Naqeebia in Model Town because as you’ve probably guessed, they have the best Murgh Channay in town! They serve these as breakfast so make sure you reach there on time and let your mind be blown away by the taste of this beloved dish. 

5. Haleem

Thick, creamy, meatiness garnished with fried onions, ginger, juicy lemons, coriander, and whatnot. You will find the best haleem in Lahore at Haji Sultan Ahmed and Kozi Haleem at Regal Chowk.

6. Daal Chawal

Now apart from all the meat-based dishes we’ve told you about, let’s move towards something simpler… Daal Chawal. Daal is a lentil-based dish that Lahoris enjoy heartily with rice. The best Daal Chawal can be found at Lakshmi Chowk in Lahore, under the name “Kashmiri Daal Chawal”.  Fresh daal, soft rice, served with kebabs if you prefer – a wonderful lunch to enjoy when you’re craving something simple. 

Daal Chawal
Image Source: FB Kashif Khan

7. Biryani

Biryani is a dish loved by all! Flavorful rice with spicy chicken, it’s the epitome of spices and flavors that you’ll enjoy. Biryani is not too heavy on the pocket either, and just the aroma of it will make your mouth water. You have several different options you can choose from – for example, Mughlai Biryani, Sindhi Biryani, etc. Choose one that suits your tastes best, and enjoy! We won’t get into just recommending one place for biryani, in fact, try out Waqas Biryani, Nawab Biryani, Butt Biryani, and Biryani King. Let us know which one suits your taste buds the most.

8. Pathoray

Another food street item that adds to the traditional dishes served at Lahore, Pathoray is a breakfast item that is enjoyed usually with chollay (similar to channay/chickpeas) and achaar (mixed pickle). You can enjoy Pathoray at Anarkali in Old Lahore at Kaka Pathoray wala, which specializes in Pathoray specifically, or even from Lahore Shahi Pathoray in Icchra Bazaar.

9. Qeema Wala Naan

Qeema Wala Naan can be enjoyed as a snack, or a whole meal, according to your preference. Best eaten with plain yogurt or raita, Qeema wala naan is usually taken during breakfast or lunchtime. If you want to try this traditional dish, it’s best to head off to the best: Mujahid Taj Din Nan Bakers in Mozang Bazaar of Lahore. What’s special about Mujahid Taj Din is the fact that the shop has been there since pre-partition, and still holds its rich heritage in place by serving the best qeema wala naans in Lahore. It’s a must-try, considering it has been passed on to generation after generation and their naans are loved by everyone! Another Qeema Wala naan must-try is from 5 Star Nan Shop, Feroz Pur Road.

10. Chargha

Chargha is a full chicken roast, cooked to perfection with spices that will blow your mind. It’s healthy to eat, so even if you’re a little calorie conscious, this is a treat you can give the taste buds that you will enjoy! 

The best Chargha in town is definitely found at Tabaq Chargha located on Lakshmi Chowk. You can dine there, or take the Chargha home, but either way – you’ll enjoy this steam roast. 

11. Korma

This is yet another traditional dish loved by all, and we bet you’ll love it too. Korma is a kind of curry, with a yogurt base cooked with different spices, with added chicken or meat. The usual preference is Mutton Korma, and if you don’t mind mutton, then you ought to try the Korma at Khan Baba restaurant. It is located at Lower Mall, Niaz View Sanda, and is a big restaurant with a hall accommodating families as well. So it’s not street food, don’t worry! It’s a proper dine-in restaurant where you can all go and enjoy different curries, but don’t forget to try their city-wide famous Korma!

12. Anda Shami

True Lahoris know the love for Anda Shami burger. Also famously known as the “shami wala burger”, this is the desi take on burgers, that has a shami tikki and egg between two buns. It’s extremely delicious, and a good bite to grab on the run. 

If you’re looking to try to anda shami burger, then our suggestion would be to try the Sarak Kinary in Defence, Gulberg. It’s the best one in Lahore! 

13. Samosa

Samosas are fried pastries with different savory fillings. Usually enjoyed with a spicy potato filling, with a side of sweet chati and chanay, samosas are a favorite tea-time snack for Lahoris. If you’re on the go and want to grab a quick bite to eat, samosas are something you’ll find as street food in almost every market in Lahore.

However, if you want to try the best there is, then “Best Samosa” in Ghalib Market is a must-try. They fry fresh samosas in front of you, crispy and aromatic that make you want to devour them instantly!

Sheikh Jee Samosa in Township is also a must-try, though you have to wait for freshly fried Samosa’s. 

14. Dahi Bharay

Dahi Bhara, otherwise known as Dahi Bhallay, is a yogurt-based snack with fried lentils dipped in them. You can put chaat masala on top and enjoy it. Again, quite famous in different markets where women stop to enjoy a quick bite during their shopping sprees.

Dahi Bharay 1
Image Source: FB – Faiza Umar

The best dahi bhallay is probably by Ahmad Dahi Bhallay. It is located on the main road of Nishat Colony among many other branches in Lahore, and you can get as many plates as you’d like to enjoy the dish!

15. Gol Gappay

Gol Gappay, or Pani Puri, is yet another tempting and loved street food snack enjoyed by our Lahoris. It’s a light snack – fried shells filled with different foods, like chickpeas, potatoes, onions, imli ki chutney, etc., and is eaten by dipping it in meetha (sweet) or khata (bitter) paani. 

While you can enjoy gol gappay at several different locations, you have to try them from Lahore Chatkhara. They are located in Johar Town, MM Alam Road, and even DHA. 

16. Tawa Chicken 

A specially cooked chicken with green chilies and spices on top of a traditional “Tawa”, this dish is not for the faint of heart! Enjoying steaming hot off the Tawa with a thin roti or naan, Tawa Chicken is famous for its level of spice – so beware, or else you’ll regret it!

Arif Chatkhara at Taxali Gate Road in the Walled City of Lahore has earned a name for itself for having the best Tawa Chicken in all of Lahore. 

17. Mutton Tikka:

Mutton Tikka is a boneless Mutton meat piece, barbecued on the grill to make it tender and soft. A lot of restaurants in Lahore have tried to make a name for themselves in this department, and believe us a lot of them are great! But nothing beats a small tikka shop in the heart of Shadbagh, called Gujranwala Tikka Shop. Nothing within Lahore comes even close to their tender and juicy mutton tikkas, enjoyed with fresh salad and raita, and of course rotis or naans!

18. Mutton Chaap

A much-loved traditional dish in Lahore is desi Mutton Chops. These are ribs of goats (sometimes sheep), which are slowly barbecued to reach perfection so the meat is so tender it literally melts in your mouth. This BBQ-style mutton chop is best found in Old Lahore, at a restaurant called Nishat Café. It has a nice indoor dining area and a separate hall area for families, so you don’t have to be worried while going there with a big group of people! You can order from a variety of different items off the menu, but one thing you need to try is their Mutton Chops, and you’ll be mesmerized!

19. Karahi

Karahi is a kind of curry which is cooked in a special deep-pan specifically used for cooking this dish. It has different spices, and veggies like onions and tomatoes added to it to give it a great flavor, as well as a mouthwatering aroma. Karahi has proteins added in it, which range from chicken, mutton, to even fish! Everyone enjoys it according to their liking. 

If you want to try the best Karahi in Lahore, then you have to go to Butt Karahi. Our suggestion to you would be to try their desi chicken karahi in makhan (butter), and you’ll never like Karahi anywhere else ever again. We should just warn you that it takes about 45 minutes to make, so you better have time on your hands whenever you visit to try this dish! Butt Karahi is located at Lakshmi Chowk, Gaddafi Stadium, and Bedian Road in DHA.

20. Dumba Karahi

Dumba Karahi is a special karahi with the base of Dumba meat (sheep meat). If cooked right and to perfection, it is aromatic, and tender, plus the chilies it is cooked with giving you the perfect flavor. 

For the best Dumba Karahi, you ought to go try Sarhad Restaurant at Gurumangat Road. They serve you their Dumba Karahi in the deep Karahi pan, garnished with green chilies, and we promise you the taste is impeccable. They are also well-known for their long naans served with the Karahi!

21. Kebab

Kebabs are generally made of chicken, mutton, or beef mince, put together on a skewer, and slowly grilled. With several different herbs and spices to give it the perfect taste, this dish is quite famous across Pakistan, and Lahoris have the best restaurant you can try them at. Bhaiya Ke Kabab has been well-known for a very long time, and any time a Lahori is craving authentic and tasty kebabs, they know this is the place to go to. Located in Model Town, so close to those who live within the vicinity, Bhaiyya serves fresh and delicious kebabs to its customers, paired with a salad, raita, and naans or rotis according to your liking.

22. Fish

Grilled fish, finger fish, deep-fried fish…practically any kind of fish you want, you can find it at Bashir Dar-ul Mahi Restaurant. They serve the best-tasting fish in all of Lahore, and of course, offer quite a lot of varieties that you can choose from as well.

With several branches in Lahore, Bashir’s name is known across the city for serving the best fish, and if you haven’t tried it yet – you’re definitely missing out. 

23. Hareesa

Hareesa is a traditional dish, with a base of finely ground wheat, meat, and different herbs and spices. It takes quite a lot of effort to make it, hence, sometimes it’s smart to just head off to Amritsari Hareesa in Gawalmandi Lahore to fulfill your craving for this traditional dish. 

Topped off with different toppings like caramelized onions, coriander, and having meat to fulfill the Lahori stomach, Amritsari Hareesa is the best there is if you still haven’t tried Hareesa. It is served with naan, or khameeri roti, whichever is your preference, and is a wonderfully delicious meal!

24. Taka Tak

Now Taka Tak is a very different, and traditional dish, which a few people might find odd, but trust us: it’s as delicious as it can get. A dish consisting of different organs of goats/lambs, including testicles, brain, kidney, heart, etc. prepared specifically in butter to give it a lovely aroma, it is one loved by all Lahoris. 

If this dish intrigues you and you would like to try it, well head back to Nishat Café to have the best Taka Tak across the city!

25. Ice Cream

I bet you were wondering when we’ll come to the sweet part of this list. Well, now it’s all about fulfilling your heart’s sweet desires. Lahore has its very own ice cream parlor, launched in the 1960s, and loved by all even today, Chaman Ice Cream in the heart of Lahore on Mall Road is a favorite place for friends and families to visit and enjoy alike.

They offer a variety of different flavors, ranging from Strawberry, vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, mango, etc. to anything you like! 

26. Gajar Ka Halwa

Gajar ka Halwa is a carrot-based sweet pudding dish, and Lahoris love it. So whenever you visit Lahore, you have to try it. Its best that you try Gajar ka Halwa from Bundu Khan. They specialize in sweets like this, and it’s a very nice dish for you to end your dinner with after having traditional desi Lahori foods. 

Bundu Khan is located in CC Market Phase 4 DHA, in Gaddafi Stadium, Emporium Mall, and Packages Mall. 

27. Kulfi

Kulfi is the traditional Pakistani take on ice creams – made of milk, but not whipped, and added nuts, etc. which makes it denser, and creamier than normal ice creams. It is enjoyed on a stick and is a treat loved by all. 

Royal Kulfi and Baba Jee Kulfi has several outlets across Lahore and serves the best and fresh Kulfi in all of Lahore. 

28. Falooda

Falooda is again a sweet dish, with a base of vermicelli, or sweet noodles (sawaiyan) with milk, ice, usually served with Kulfa. It is a very refreshing dessert to have, and because it’s served cold, it’ll help you feel better on an extremely hot Lahori day too!

Yousaf Falooda in Anarkali Market Lahore steals the show for this one. It’s a street-side dhabba, but it serves the best Falooda in Lahore. You’ll have to go there and stand behind quite a queue though, everyone who visits Lahore, and all Lahoris alike, want to get their hands on their Falooda at all times!

29. Garam Gulab Jamun

Now, this dessert is our favorite, and hopefully yours too. A kind of mithai, Gulab Jamun are small sweet balls of dessert best served warm and ingested quickly. With their sheer on the side, these are an instant favorite for almost everyone.

The small shop called “Best Samosa” in Ghalib Market surely tops our list for the best and freshly served Gulab Jamuns, so if you’re looking to get your hands on this warm dessert, make sure you visit them at least once. 

30. Jalebi

The West has Pretzels, well, us Lahoris have Jalebis. These are deep-fried sweets in the shape of Pretzels, in bright orange color, that are attractive from miles away, and the aroma might just pull you towards them. Jalebis are a sweet snack Lahoris usually enjoy during tea time. 

The  Jalebi on Benazir Bhutto Road has been a restaurant run by generations and hence has a family recipe that has given them fame across the city. Although slightly far for those who live in Gulberg and DHA, Lahoris still ensure they don’t let the distance come in between and always make a trip all the way to have a bite of their deliciously fresh Jalebis!

31. Khatai

Khatai is the traditional take on biscuits, enjoyed and loved during tea time, but with a richer texture. They are made with flour, sugar, and ghee, which adds to their texture, and for taste, we add nutmeg and cardamom. It is a delicious treat to eat, and if you want to get your hands on the best Khatai in Lahore, then you might just want to try Khalifa Bakers. Inside Mochi Gate, we have the famous Khalifa Bakers serving the famous and much loved Nan Khatais for everyone. 

32. Lassi

Lassi is a traditional dahi (yogurt) based drink that Lahoris enjoy for their breakfast. It can be sweet (meethi lassi) or salty (namkeen lassi), you can order whichever according to your preference. The best place to enjoy the most authentic and delicious Lassi is from Feeqa in Gawal Mandi, Lahore. Feeqa has a variety of different lassis to offer, but the best one probably is his Pairay wali Lassi. Takes about 25-30 minutes to prepare a batch, but the wait is all worth it. It’s quite heavy and can make you quite sleepy after, but don’t worry, you’ll absolutely love it! This drink is the perfect one to have on a hot day. 

33. Chai

Last but not least, we’ve mentioned so many snacks to enjoy with tea…did you really think we would miss out on telling WHERE you can get the best tea/Chai from?

Goonga Chai Wala on Temple Road is a shop that never closes because Lahoris can literally drink chai at any time of the day. This Shop serves deliciously fresh tea and has been present here since the pre-partition era. It has earned its name and fame since then, being handed on to generations after generations, serving warm and fresh tea to all its customers. The legend has it the shop has not shut its doors since its opening.

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