‘My favourite things about Pakistan!’
Ashlyn Khan, last year’s deputy head girl at Portsmouth High School (GDST), talks about how her Pakistani heritage has shaped the person she is today and what she most loves about the culture of Pakistan.
What I love and value the most about my Pakistani culture is the importance of family, which is shown through the abundance of food at Eid, the glamorous and extravagant weddings and always having parties.
The history of Nihari
One of my favourite foods in the entire world comes from Pakistan. Nihari!
Nihari is a slow-cooked stew made with beef or lamb and is full of spices and herbs such as ginger, garlic, turmeric and red chili. Usually, it is offered at special celebrations like the holy month of Ramadan and Eid. The dish originated in the 18th century from the Mughal Empire, which spanned across Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal. The name nihari stems from the Arabic term ‘نهار” ,“Nahaar’, which translates to ‘morning’ and it was thought that during the Mughal Empire, Muslim noblemen ate nihari after morning prayer. Nihari is Pakistan’s national dish and is an integral part of my heritage.
Pakistan is home to some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, with a diveristy of deserts, mountains, forests and lakes. In the North of Pakistan lies a favourite place of mine - Kaghan Valley.
Kaghan Valley is considered to be a jewel amongst Pakistan’s mountain scenery. According to a local legend, a prince of Persia fell in love with a fairy princess on the beautiful Lake Saiful Muluk. A giant, also in love with the princess, held her captive. However, the prince managed to escape with the fairy princess. And the heartbroken giant flooded Kaghan Valley and created lakes with his tears. This is one of the few folklores of Pakistan.
Pakistan: Pioneers in fashion
Pakistan’s rich heritage of fashion starts with The Indus Valley Civilisation, which existed from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE and produced the first ever cotton cloth in the world. Since then, the diversity of clothing across the four provinces of Pakistan has flourished.
Punjab is known for its vibrant colours and intricate embroidery. The ‘Jutti’ footwear, embroidered with gold and silver threads, was an important part of royalty for over 400 years. Now, the vivid clothes of Punjab are worn in folk dances and music performances.
Another important aspect of my culture is mangoes. Pakistan is known for having the sweetest mangoes, bringing families together over centuries to enjoy this summer delicacy.
Mangoes are especially sentimental to me as my family looks forward to mango season each year, when we can eat chilled mangoes during the hot summer nights. I will never forget when I was in Pakistan and caught my uncle eating a mango at 3am in the dark!
My culture has shaped me as the person I am today, I love sharing it with others and I think everyone should learn about their heritage!