Katlama “Pakistani Pizza” is rarely available on the streets of Lahore now. Yummiest and oldest savory of Lahore is only available at Anniversary celebrations of Different Saints like Hazrat Mian Mir etc. Katlama is a Pakistani take on flatbread- a kind of a fiery pizza, made with blended bean stew- dried and powdered and Garam-Masala. Wads of this batter are sprinkled with crushed lentils, coriander, and Anar-Dana, usually seared and pan fried. However, true desi folk seem to prefer it tossed and deep friend- classic Puri style! It is served around the world in top Pakistani eateries. Katlama is really a Pakistani form of the focal Asian katlama which is a pizza-like dish. In numerous northern spots in Pakistan like Hazara, Katlama is finished with spiced minced meat. This adaptation of Katlama is very extraordinary than the vegan variant.
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Lahore has always proudly boasted it’s exquisitely varied cuisine. There’s Gaia for Japanese food, Tuscany Courtyard for gourmet Italian food, Yum for Chinese and Thai, and Al Kabab for Turkish to name a few.
But there is little that can top the authentic, purely Pakistani relish of Old Lahore- Food Street. This place is the focal point of tempting refreshments, distinctively indulgent meals and traditional beverages. Pathoora, Das Qulcha, Khatai, Paye, Jeddaa Lassi, Arif Chatkhara, Nihari and last but not at all the least, Katlama.
As a cultural delicacy, Katlama is a treasured relic from the Mughal era and easily one of the most wanted items at any Local Mela(festival) in Lahore.
Katlama or 'Qatlama' is a Pakistani savory, similar to a spicy pizza. It is served around the world in top Pakistani restaurants. It is made with dough mixed with chili powder, garam masala and red food coloring. Small balls of this dough are sprinkled with mash dal (washed urad dal), coriander and anar dana, rolled out and then deep fried in oil. Sometimes, the qatlama before frying is also covered with chickpea flour paste called 'besan' in Urdu. Qatlama is actually a Pakistani version of the central Asian katlama which is a pizza-like dish. In many places in Pakistan, Qatlama has a similar base as a pizza made of yeasted dough and is topped with spiced minced beef or lamb. This version of Qatlama is quite different then the vegetarian version described earlier which is primarily served in the eastern city of Lahore.
Katlama is seen as comfort food for winters. To be savoured while huddled in blankets at home or at cold street corners. It isn’t so much that we, the hopeless foodaholics, quit eating this steaming dish of greasy goodness amid the hotter months, but some way or another, the climate drives us to constrain the intake a little. But for the die-hard katlama fans, the heat is a mere small hurdle in their quest for excellence. And for those who don’t have sufficient energy or persistence, this exurban delight is accessible on numerous high-end eateries’ menus too.
Situated in the back paths of D block DHA, FryPan is one such restaurant. Their ‘claim to fame’ are the Mexican and Moroccan qatlamas. These eight-inch ‘pies’ are served in a skillet, each is intended for two.
This delicacy is Lahore’s cultural legacy and soul. And, absolutely nothing can beat having katlama under a cold starry night.