Around the World in Houston: Discovering Pakistan

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SAS Ball | Photo courtesy of Rice University South Asian Society

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

This week, we’re putting the spotlight on Pakistan. In 2007, the Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston stated that around 60,000 people of Pakistani origin lived in the Houston area. Today, the city is flourishing with Pakistani culture, from halal eateries and markets to boutique shops and cricket clubs.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Independence Day Festival Celebrate Pakistan Independence Day with live music, traditional foods, raffles and more at this festival at the Pakistan Association of Greater Houston.
  • Houston Iftar This annual Ramadan Dinner with the Mayor of Houston is open to the public each year.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Pakistani American Association of Greater Houston Serving Texas for the last 25 years, the Pakistani American Association of Greater Houston is a non-political and non-profit social organization. The group organizes charitable, social, and religious events throughout the year, including the Independence Day Festival. Follow along on Facebook for updates.
  • Pakistan Chamber of Commerce Founded in 1997, the chamber of commerce strives to help promote and strengthen good relations between the U.S. and Pakistan through trade and commerce. Look out for tradeshows, workshops, seminars and more.
  • Asia Society Texas CenterWith 12 locations throughout the world, the Asia Society seeks to promote mutual understanding and strengthen partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the west. Locally, the Museum District center enriches and engages the vast diversity of Houston through innovative programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach. Look out for a rotating selection of programs and activities, from culture camps for kids to special artist exhibitions.
  • Arts of Asia at MFAH The Museum of Fine Arts Houston hosts an Arts of Asia collection spanning nearly five millennia and encompassing cultures across the continent, including Southeast Asian art.
  • Pakistani Student Association at University of HoustonEstablished in 1965, this proud united ethnic student organization welcomes people from diverse backgrounds to join in on social, awareness, charity, and professional events, all while promoting awareness of Pakistan, its customs, and cultures within and throughout the community. Follow along on Facebook for updates.
  • Rice University South Asian Society Rice University’s South Asian Society is a secular, non-partisan student organization dedicated to spreading awareness of the cultures of South Asia through language, song, dance, and service.  Membership is open to the entire student body, and the group holds hold various cultural events and programs to share the South Asian experience within the community, including two large scale theatrical productions of songs, dance, and drama. Follow along on Facebook for updates.

Pakistani Food & Drink

Restaurants

  • Aga’s Restaurant Indian and Pakistani delights come in the form of $9.99 lunch and dinner combos like chicken haryali boti, beef kebab, and goat chop, all served with rice and tomato gravy.
  • Ashar’s Kitchen – This Pakistani and halal cafeteria and market offers fresh naan alongside mouthwatering dishes like beef nihari and chicken karahi.
  • Bismillah Blending Indian and Pakistani cuisine, this popular Hillcroft spot boasts both a restaurant and fast-casual cafe. Hit the restaurant side for rich curries and stews; and the cafe for chaat, fresh juice, and ten-spice chicken.
  • Bundu Khan Kabab House – Delicious kababs are the name of the game at this no frills strip center joint.
  • Himalaya Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, chef and owner Kaiser Lashkari is well known for his deeply-spiced Indian and Pakistani dishes. Feast on dishes like garam masala-kissed fried chicken and Hanifia-style Hunter’s Beef Plate, a Pakistani-style beef pastrami that can be served cold with magic mustard or hot with butter and warm spices.
  • Khan BBQ & Grill This fan favorite offers everything from biryani and beef nihari to kabobs and chicken chargha (a classic dish from the city of Lahore).
  • Mezban Hit the Pakistani buffet at this Harwin eatery for brunch, lunch or dinner, and be sure to check out daily offerings like Thursday’s buy one entrée, get one free special.
  • New Nurani BBQ It may look bare bones, but the flavor is fully satisfying at this halal grillhouse. Enjoy behari keban, chicken and beef boti, and bbq platters on the cheap.

Grocery Stores & Bakeries/Sweet Shops

  • Adam’s Halal Meat Market This halal butcher shop and grocery store is a choice spot for fresh cuts of quality meat, from chicken and beef to mutton and lamb. You’ll also find popular Asian brands from Pakistan, India, South Africa, and the Middle East, as well as freshly prepared eats.
  • Gulshan-e-Iqbal Grocery and Mithai – Shop for medjool dates, basamati rice and chickpea flour, halal cuts of beef, mithai and imported teas, sweets, and snacks at this Pakistani grocery store, located in Hillcroft.
  • Rani’s World Foods This international grocery store offers a killer selection of South Asian goods. Be sure to check out the pre-made foods, with hot and fresh naan, curries and more.
  • Parivar Grocer’sHit this unassuming joint for fresh produce and Indo-Pak staples, including spices, flours, oils and more.
  • Cacao & Cardamom The brainchild of Houston-born chocolatier Annie Rupani, whose family is Pakistani, this chocolate boutique melds cacao with the exotic flavors of Southeast Asia, from garam masala and cardamom to rose water and black sesame.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • Indus Arts CouncilIAC’s mission is to promote Pakistani art forms, languages, and cultural awareness in the US and the world over by leveraging local resources and creative mediums.
  • Houston Urdu ClubThough several languages are common in the country (including but not limited to Punjabi, Pashto, Saraiki, and Sindhi), Urdu is the official national language of Pakistan along with English. Get familiar with the language through the Houston Urdu Club and the Indus Arts Council, which offers classes.
  • Houston Cricket League Though field hockey is the national sport of Pakistan, cricket is by and large the most popular. This cricket club was organized to further the sport of cricket in Houston and surrounding areas, with activities for both youth and adults.

Other Notables

  • Chatt n Paan With games of chess, snooker, and weekly ping pong tournaments, this Desi hangout invites all to relax, unwind, and enjoy some chaat and paan.
  • Hillcroft ShoppingThe Plaza at Hillcroft and the Olympic Center are two shopping destinations, hosting boutiques that offer Pakistani and Indian apparel like Poshak Fashion & Style, Indian-Pakistani restaurant Himalaya and more.
  • Pakistan Post Check out the Houston edition of the Pakistan Post.
  • Sangeet Radio Sangeet meaning “pleasant melody,” is the number 1 Desi hit music station in Houston. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day on KBRZ 1460 AM or 95.1 FM.

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