Pakistani Food in Canberra – Lahori Gate Restaurant Review

by Rosemarie John on August 1, 2016

Lahori Gate Review

“We don’t use cream in our cooking”, said Furqan Ali the minute he handed us the menu. “It’s going to be spicy”, he adds. That was music to our ears. We were at Lahori Gate, a Pakistani restaurant in the quiet suburb of Weetangera.

We parked in front of the restaurant and the moment we alighted from our vehicle, a glorious aroma of oven (tandoor) cooked meat and baked bread hit us. We knew right then and there that Lahori Gate was going to be a treat.

Comparing Pakistani cuisine to North Indian cuisine is like comparing apples to oranges, if you ask me. They might seem familiar, as similar as Chinese or Singaporean Chinese cuisine, but are they really alike?  Incorporating cooking styles from Iran, Afghanistan and India, Pakistani cuisine is a unique mix of complex flavours that uses a generous sprinkling of nutmeg, black pepper and chilli powder.

While most dishes are often eaten with different types of breads like tawa roti, naan or kulcha, we enjoy eating Pakistani cuisine with rice too. Pakistani dishes are known for spicy flavours and the liberal usage of oil, making for a richer meal.

As you waft through the menu, you will find many authentic dishes like Chicken Karahi, Lamb Paye, Beef Nihari and Lahori Charga just to name a few. The restaurant does not use any food colouring or MSG either. Lahori Gate is a family establishment with Furqan attending to customers while his wife, Zara creates magic in the kitchen.

On a wintry night last week, we had Fish Masala, Chicken Haleem, Goat Vandalo and Bhindi Gosht (Okra cooked with lamb). Haleem,  a mix of meat, spices and pulses that is slow cooked up to eight hours is a thick yellow stew served with thinly sliced ginger, lemon and chopped coriander leaves. Oh my, it was delightfully comforting. It’s going to be my new comfort food. I am definitely going back just to have my own serve of Haleem. I am not sharing!

We were at Lahori Gate with our well-travelled American friends who are currently residing in China. They really enjoyed themselves too. It felt as if we were eating home cooked food. There was nothing commercial about the dishes we savoured, it presented well but it tasted of love and some serious cooking skills. We wished we had met Chef Zara Ali, but it was a busy night for the restaurant that had only opened its doors three days prior.

LahoriGate Belconnen Lahori Gate Review Canberra

Lahori Gate Restaurant is located at 1/4 Weetangera Pl, Weetangera ACT 2614. View their menu here.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie August 2, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Wish I hadn’t read this at lunch time when all I have is a cheese sandwich 😩 Sounds divine. Oh how I love food from that region
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Rosemarie John August 2, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Haha, that happens to me all the time. I end looking at food blogs just before lunch and find the lunch I have brought, not that interesting anymore. 🙂

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Elaine J. Masters August 2, 2016 at 3:23 pm

Sounds like a delicious and fun evening. I love Indian food and would love to explore the differences between Pakistani and that.
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Eloise August 2, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Pakistani and North Indian foods generally are quite similar. The difference between the food of both countries is depends on the spices and quantities they put on the dish. But their dishes are amazing. 🙂

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Rosemarie John August 2, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Yes, some people say that. But I do find them different especially in taste. Many North Indian dishes originated from that region before the partition. 🙂

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Frank August 23, 2016 at 12:20 am

Hi Eloise,
I’ve tried both North Indian & Pakistani food several times, in several places (I’m based in the UK). As Rosemarie says, Pakistani cuisine has a hefty Central/West Asian admixture which differentiates it from the North Indian. Indian meat dishes mask the meat taste with heavy spicing. Pakistanis follow the Afghan/Iranian (and Western) tradition of letting the meat flavours shine through. I find Pakistani food to be closer to the Meat’n’taters tradition of Western cooking – many Pakistani dishes feature lamb or beef as the main component with potatoes/spinach/lentils/cabbage/’some other vegetable’ playing second fiddle. Vegetables cooked in a great variety of ways are the stars of North Indian cuisine. In Pakistani cooking, vegetables play a much less important role. Over the last couple of decades I have seen a very significant impact of the Afghan influence on Pakistani food (around 3-4 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan, and own many restaurants including Karachi’s favourite: BBQ Tonight). National cuisines are evolutionary. South Asian influences on what Brits eat and Turkish influences on what Germans eat, over the last few decades, have had profound and far reaching effects on the UK & German food scenes. Likewise is the effect of Afghan cooking on Pakistani food. This further distances it from North Indian cuisine.

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Paula McInerney August 2, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Love spicy food, and we will be in Canberra on Thursday. Think I know where we will eat.
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Elissa August 2, 2016 at 9:05 pm

How good is it to find authentic and tasty food in your local area? I think we might have to try this place, thanks for the review.
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Evelyne CulturEatz August 2, 2016 at 10:39 pm

I have had Pakistani food, maybe not enough yet to really differentiate it from North Indian but I always enjoyed my meals. This place looks wonderful.
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Anna @ shenANNAgans August 3, 2016 at 8:18 am

I don’t think I have ever really had Pakistani food before, perhaps elements of the cuisine I guess. I will totes be taking your recommendation and checking this place out. Love that you were able to have a super spicy feed too, perhaps I will have to bring my own bottle of milk to calm the tastebuds. Lol!
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Sahar August 3, 2016 at 8:22 am

Back then we had Pakistani neighbors where we lived and mind you their curries are are rich and loaded with flavor. Pakistanis are hardworking people and they burn of the oil and ghee loaded dishes during the day time and have hearty meals at nights. Pakistani Rotis are a childhood memory now!

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Prateek August 4, 2016 at 4:04 am

Love the food and you are absolutely right there is a difference between Pakistani and Northern Indian food, though I wouldn’t say they are apples to oranges more like two varieties of citrus fruits, like you said certain spices like nutmeg are quite generously used in Pakistani cuisine . Goat Vindaloo doesn’t sound Pakistani though, it’s a Goan dish. Bhindi Gosht sounds yummy, need to try that one!
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Tandy | Lavender and Lime August 4, 2016 at 6:15 pm

what a great review. Not sure I could have handled the heat though 🙂
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