Notes From Pakistan – The Bun Kebab, The Botal And The Drive In Dining.

Posted on July 24, 2012


Back in the day (and even now), it would not be uncommon for many Pakistani families to pile up on their motorbike or car and go out for a drive and a bottle post dinner to the nearby food and eateries strip. And if it was your lucky day and you lived in Karachi, you might even get to go to seaview. Now you must wonder what I mean when I say bottle – oft pronounced  “botal” , quite simply it is this :

Exactly! just a simple non-disposable bottle of fizzy drink served chilled to you in your car/bike/taxi/rickshaw. Anything to beat the heat and electricity  blackouts Karachi is most prone to.

There are not many countries in the world which will offer you a true drive-in dining experience. Pakistan is one of them and we take the whole casual dining thing to an  exciting new level. You could venture out in literally your pyjamas and be served a full meal right in your car, not an inch of stepping out required (getting in and out of the car excluded – now don’t be THAT lazy). Growing up, drive in dining was our most common weekly family activity, it is affordable, convenient and needless to say delicious. I would pick easy and casual drive in dining over fine and fancy any day. That is not to say I don’t enjoy a fine meal every now and then of course.

So the other night, I convinced my brother to take us out to dinner and no it wasn’t to a posh Karachi cafe. It was to Karachi’s oldest and most popular food strip, Burns Road . Burns Road is considered the authority on popular Pakistani foods/drinks such as Nihari, Haleem, Dahi Bada and Lassi among many more. 6 of us piled up in my brother’s car and headed to Burns Road  for an unparalleled culinary experience. Lip smackingly delicious Bun Kebab (Pakistani style lentil and potato burger/sandwich) served with a spicy tamarind chutney. We polished our bun kebabs with a refreshingly chilled to perfection Aam ki BotalThin mango milkshake with delicious fresh mango chunks served in non disposable glass drink bottles. All this food served in the car, for under $5 for 6 people.

 Sure there’s a bit of squishing and nudging and a bit of holding and plate passing but all said and done, in my eyes ;

Drive in dining – Tick.

Happy factor – Big tick.

Have you ever experienced drive in dining? What are your thoughts ? Do you prefer the more formal sit down dinner or are you game for something much more casual ?

Posted in: Food, Musings