Let’s face it. We are a food-obsessed nation. Food is not nutrition for us; it is entertainment, lifestyle and religion ALL rolled into one. “What should we eat today?” may well be the most common phrase spoken in Pakistan. Add to this our traditional hospitality and you have a virtually endless canvas of food combinations for any given situation.
This passion we have for food has made way for a flourishing market of meal items like sauces and spices. Companies making tomato ketchup have put forth every effort to turn their product into something that fits within Pakistani culture. Ads focus on parent-child dynamics and how having ketchup can make one child’s lunchtime experience better than another’s. During the month of Ramadan ketchup sales skyrocket as they brand their product as essential for Iftar experiences.
Ketchup is both a vehicle for snacks, and a beneficiary of the growing popularity of food that were once offbeat for most Pakistanis. One cuisine that was instrumental in making tomato sauce irresistible to Pakistani palates is “Chinese food,” or the Pakistani-Chinese hybrid is now a favorite in homes, snack carts and dhabas around the country.
Then there’s the Bun Kabab – a veritable tower of sliced cucumber, onions, all layered over a shami kabab. Sprinkled with chaat masala and then fried on a hot tawa. There are usually two condiments smeared on the edge of the paper plate in which you are served your Bun Kabab: green chutney and tomato ketchup. Here, ketchup isn’t just an accessory but rather a crowning touch that helps take the entire dish to the next level!
Who can forget the sweet and spicy nostalgia of thaile wale fries topped with ‘gandi’ ketchup! From French fries to sandwiches, nothing can compare to the tangy flavor of ketchup that makes every bite a unique experience.
For generations, Pakistani households have kept this condiment close at hand. It’s become an essential part of ‘angrezo’ki dishes like pasta and aloo tikki bread sandwiches. However with the recent emergence of spicier sauces like chili sauce, is ketchup in danger of becoming obsolete ? Will the beloved sauce still reign supreme, or will there be something new added to the mix? Time will tell!