Lahore is a city renowned for its food and spices coupled with traditional values and love for cricket! While everyone knows of Lahore’s MM Alam road and Food Street, the true heart of Lahore’s street food can be found in lesser known places such as the Shah Alam Market, Garhi Shao and Lakshmi chowk.
Street food vendor in Gari Shao
I had my Rickshaw driver, a local of Garhi Shao, take me on a trip down the main street. As we began our journey at what is known as small Tollinton market, a purchase and sale point for small pets, the rickshaw driver began showing me the landmarks. We crossed the Harbanspura underpass and the train lines, and the smell of food began to play fiddles in my stomach.
Start of the Gari Shao food street
As we went further down the road, we saw a bunch of children playing cricket in the streets. Also know as Gully cricket in Lahore. It is a very unique kind of cricket. Pioneers of the double wicket format, these streets have different rules than proper matches. The rickshaw driver, also a native of the area and a cricket enthusiast, explained the rules to me
Street Cricket in Lahore- courtesy: Vimlendu Jhu
The number of overs are limited. Each team has only two batsmen. Since most of Pakistanis love to bat more, each team has to bowl the complete number of overs, and every time a batsmen is given out, there is a crossing and a deduction of a fixed number of runs. One tip-one hand is considered a catch out, whereas if a fielder catches a ball with one hand after it having bounced on the ground, it’s considered a regular catch.
One of the oldest food vendors in Lahore
There are no wicket keepers so there is no score for cover drives. Due to the narrow width of the streets, pull shots and cuts are also not allowed, and the only way to score a six or a four is by hitting the ball straight over the bowlers head and out onto the main road.
Upon a successful hit, one of the fielders runs onto the main road without fear or safety of life, so engrossed in the game that all else seems to fade. I watched in awe as these young stars played on, calling themselves Afridi and Gul and Wasim Akram, trying to emulate their stars while secretly dreaming of fame and fortune and of playing for the national team.
As we moved further down the road, there was a long chain of river fish sellers selling raw fish, freshly caught from the banks of the Ravi, while further yet, my nostrils dilated at the savoury smell of fried fish was sold around the corner. We stopped at one of these fish stalls, where a jam-packed crowd was glued to a small old television broadcasting the PSL as they sipped their tea served in clay plates known as pirchs while having Pakora’s and fried fish with khameeri roti.
Customers enjoying PSL match with food
As we went further and deeper into the heart of Garhi Shao, we came to a famous chicken soup and noodle dhaba, where the owner had sold his soup to thousands of students from the Lahore University of Engineering & Technology and many young aspiring cricket stars alike.
The food is nutritious, affordable and delicious at the same time, making it a magical experience that would make anyone forget Lahore’s Lavish MM Alam and the posh Defence. This is the true heart of Pakistan; Lahore the birth place of Lahore Qalandars and #MobilinkKaySikandar