Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month – Muneeb Siddiqui
I was born in Pakistan and moved to the U.S. in 2008 for school. The move was exciting, scary, and at times, challenging. But now, looking back over the past 13 years, it’s has been a very rewarding and blessed experience. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some great people, traveled to over 20 states, met my wife, had two rambunctious boys (I still love them nonetheless), and made countless memories.
Muneeb’s favorite foods
Even after all these years, when I think of home, our dinner table is the first thing that comes to mind. That could be because of my love for food or the fact that family is at the heart of everything, and meals are something that brings the family together.
Going from north to south or east to west, one can find a wide variety of flavors, colors, spices, and presentation in food. From various kinds of naan (clay oven-baked bread) to a variety of rice dishes, like biryani (curried rice) – from unique BBQed kabobs (meat skewers with vegetables) to a wide assortment of sweets and desserts; you can always find something to enjoy.
Pakistan has some unofficial food pairings. For example, we mostly eat BBQ or grilled meats with naan and a side of chutney or raita (yogurt-based side with cucumber and salt).
Naan and other bread in this region are used as a utensil (see picture below), which is very different from how the U.S. uses bread – served before the food and by itself with butter or vinegar/oil. Then with rice, there is always a liquid-based add-on. If the rice is spiced, like biryani (curried rice) or pulao (aromatic spiced rice), it gets paired with raita. On the other hand, a spiced curry can go with boiled rice or naan. In essence, we like to moisten our food while eating.
On this Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I would encourage you all to find some Pakistani restaurant near you and try the food. There aren’t any options in Toledo that I have found yet. But, there are tons of options if you are ever in a bigger city like Chicago, Houston, or NYC. One of my personal favorites is Khan BBQ in Chicago, IL (no, this is not a paid plug 😊). You will not get a fancy dining experience, but the food there is just like home. If you like to cook, there are tons of recipes out there to try.