Wednesday Wisdom: Food at Pakistani Weddings
Pakistani weddings are the most celebrated festive occasions in the country. Its a time when family, friends and yes, even distant (whom you usually do not want to see) relatives attend with all pomp. The traditional weddings in the urban areas last for 3 – 4 days with separate functions occurring daily, whilst in the rural villages wedding celebrations last for weeks. Due to the extreme humidity and heat most weddings are planned during fall, winter and less so in spring.
Of course with so many days of activities, there is a traditional culinary style of food for each day. And the food served, well simply put, its too die for, cause it is rich in all things tasty, fattening and not so good for you. But who cares, weddings are meant to be celebrated, and that is what we do with zeal.
Mayyon and Mehndi:
Celebrations kick off with “mayyon”. Usually its an all girls/ladies gathering and yellow is the dominant color for this occasion. The bride wears a yellow suit till her wedding day and before it freaks you out let me clarify that she is free to bathe and change in between. After wedding this suit is given as a good omen to another girl next in line. Ladies from bride’s family (sometimes in laws too) and her friends put some “ubtan” on her hands and face and dab a drop of hair oil on her hair. Ubtan is like a traditional and all natural body scrub. Mehndi is more formal function where in laws are invited too. There used to be two separate “mehndis” for the bride and the groom but for the past decade and so there is just one gathering. Nikkah also takes place at this day and both bride and groom sit next to each other and ladies from both sides put mehndi on their palms and give a bite of mithai (local sweets) to them. This event is all about fun with songs, dances, dhoolk (tradition drum), colorful dresses, choriyan (glass bangles), jewelry and of course mehndi.
Food for these events is usually channay, halwa, puri, aalo bhujiya, sometimes seekh kebab or roast. These recipes can be find on The Brunch Talk post, Channay here, Aalo bhujiya here and Mutton chops here. There could be Nihari too.This won’t taste exactly like food at the event because ingredients, method of cooking, utensils and preparation method is obviously different.
Before arriving at the shaddi venue, groom side has a gathering called “sehra bandi” where his side of the family give him “salami” (money) and then they all leave in a car caravan, led by flower-decorated-groom’s vehicle. This “formation” is called “barat”. They are received and greeted by bride’s family with long flower necklaces (like Hawaiin Lei but with roses mostly) and everyone in “barat” is practically showered with rose petals. Groom/Dulha sits on a stage and later bride, traditionally dressed in red and gold, makes an entrance with her family and sits next to the groom. Photographers, vide makers and all cell phone cameras are focused on the couple. As mentioned in the previous post today’s menu is usually Pulao or Biryani with Qorma or Karahi with Naan, Palak Gosht, Aalo Bukara Chutney, Firni and Kashmiri Chai.
Religiously, Nikkah is suppose to take place in masjid (mosque) and the next day groom is suppose to arrange a feast for a gathering. In Pakistan, this event is from the groom side and they welcome bride’s family the same way they were welcomed on Shaadi day with flower necklaces and rose petals. Bride and groom arrive together and sit on the decorated stage and another photography session goes on with group photos too. Menu for this event is pretty much like wedding day as well with slight changes like Hot and Sour Soup as appetizer and Creamy Pasta or Chicken Tikka or Chicken Karahi added to the menu.