Me Besan Shechan?

Project by: Batool Ali & Gul Bano

Written By: Batool Ali

In every locality and region the fruits, vegetables and somewhat live stock are particularly produced or grown according to the regions live style. The climate, the duration of the seasons, and all together their way of work and livelihood affect the produce of suitable food for them. Often to add some different taste to theirlives they mix and match these foods to make new recipes which they use in customary festivities.

Hunza a beautiful valley full of vast colours of life and culture lies in the Northern land of Pakistan. Hunza is famous for its ripe and juicy apricots, mouth watering apples and dry fruits and fresh vegetables which include scrumptious potatoes, pumpkins, spinach and cabbages. These foods go with their life style their culture. These crops and fruits contain energy and as the local people have to get up early to work in their crops and orchids so they need to full fill their nutritional requirements.

Nutritional value of vegetables grown in Hunza:

  1. Potatoes: are good source potassium, vitamin C, fibre, and Iron which contributes to the health and strength of the Hunza people.
  2. Pumpkins: is incredibly rich in vital antioxidants, and vitamins.
  3. Spinach: Spinach is a wonderful green-leafy vegetable often recognized as one of the functional foods for its wholesome nutritional, antioxidants and anti-cancer composition.
  4. Cabbages: Rich in phyto-nutrient anti-oxidants.

All of these vegetables are essential for the hunza people as they need all the nutrition and vitamins they can get because their way of work is getting up in the early hours of the day and working in their fields and orchids.  In the past it was quite common to see people crossing 100 and more years this indeed is true and can still be seen to some extent however the modern civilization has changed a lot in this valley of the longativity.

One secret of longativity of the Hunza people is their low fat diet and diet full of fibre and organic vegetarian food. Hunza bread (Phitti as it is called locally) has inherited a huge fame and here is something about it.

Popular dishes of Hunza:

  1. Common and Popular:

I.         Phitti: is special Hunza bread which they make daily bake and eat it in breakfast with tea. in the past it was naturally fermented and made in a stone oven but now Yeast ferments the bread and it is made in an electrical one. it is both winter and summer delight.

II.         Brumhanik: is a traditional Hunza dish. It is offered to guests usually. It is a Brushuski word and it means white food. It consists of bread and butter. The butter is made in goatskin.

III.         Pink Yak Butter:  the pink butter and the dried apricots are an amazing treat of the Hunza Valley and must be tried by all visitors.

IV.         Chhap Shoro: a hunza feast. Whole wheat chapatti wrapped around meat, vegetables, and spices. Cooked on fire. Often referred to as Hunza Pizza.

V.         Baru Shapik: Cottage cheese spread in think wheat chapatis

VI.         Sharbat:

VII.        Mantu: An Afghani recipe, dumplings wrapped around meat ans cooked in boiling water.

VIII.      Dawdo: A noodle soup eaten in winters. 


Winter and Summer delights of Hunza:


Apricot oil, walnut oil, Dried vegetables, Yoshayas (special meat for winter), Diram phitti, Diram, Batoranay Dawdo, Qista, Dry fruits.


Vegetables, Diltar, Barus e zamik, Phelzay phaqo, Fruits, Chamus, Dry apple juice.

Food for Festivities:

  • Marriages:

Then: Sharbat, Shupa, Qista, and Joot.

Now: Rice, Meat, Chicken, Sweet dishes, Sharbat.

  • Birthday of Their leader/Imam Aga Khan:

Then: Since 1957 local food was used

Now: Harisa and Sharbat.

  • Ginani:

Then: Shuwanchal, Mulida, Hamamo giyalin, Barush Shapik.

Now:   The same as in the past.

  • Roza Eid:

Then: Sheeshax, Local food

Now: Arzuk, Sweet dish, Chaat, and other delights.

  • Nouroz:

Then: Bukak, local food ( Diram Phete)

Now: Rice, and chicken.


Moment of transformation:

In the happy valley of Hunza were bread was made by keeping it in a moist and warm place for a day to naturally ferment the bread dough. This was a difficult task because it took a day long and then it took even longer because it had to be made on the stone oven.

then a blast of the new age brought modified and easy, simple ways to make food faster and the new age also bought devices to cook and bake food fast. so a modern way of baking reached the Hunza valley as well.

There came all the way from China to Iran and then to the valley. Yeast an easy mode of fermenting bread in only an hour, their most common and daily eatable Phitti bread was made easy to make, but as it was easy and helpful to women( who started using it a lot). It was also harm full to human health because it caused Gastric problems and a lot of stomach issues but still the women did not leave it because it made their work easier.

ATTABAD LAKE CRISES                          

“The mountain fell,

So did the masses of people die,

Not their hearts but their souls,

A death worth not wanting,

It aches with in to lose your own,

But mind remained unfaltered.

Hopes soared high.”  

                                                 Batool Ali__

The story of Attabad Lake:

                            Attabad Lake is a glorious reminder of beauty and tragedy that started on 4th January 2010 and has not ended yet as the people of Gojal valley still are displaced and in a way still facing a life of hardship and chaos. The landslide killed twenty people and blocked the flow of the Hunza River for five months. The people of the valley took shelter in other parts of Hunza and they were given shelters there to live by the Humanitarians organizations and various NGOs step into help.

Although the international law states that it is the responsibility of the government concerned to provide assistance and protection of the IDPsbut victims of the landslide staged a sit-in protesting the lack of government action and compensation payments to them.

China helped a lot so did the Red Cross for rehabilitating them. China provided the provisions, supplies and monetary help till 2013 after that they gave the whole of financial aid and the supplies of 2014-2015 in one go. the local government of Hunza worked with the aid providers and NGOs to help the people and also made shelters for them but they did not work and are not working as they cause more problems for the IDPs.

Their unsuitable temporary placement caused a lot of damage to their routine and the government did more because they did not have any means to buy the right food or to buy a land to make a home because all the funds the Chinese’s people had given was spent on various of things like clothes, schooling, and for daily needs. The stove given as a temporary cooking range was not the one which the women’s were used to make their local food in for example; Phitti their daily bread which they used to have in breakfast is made on a stone oven or electrical one (but they did not have the funds to buy one).

So to some up all this is simple. People were displaced hence no land, no orchids, no vegetable, no live stock so no milk (the Chinese people gave milk powder but that gave the people more problems and costly visits to the doctor with stomach issues) then, what do the people eat?  

My Proposition:

  • The IDPs can grow vegetables in sacks in front of their shelters if they do not have any land.
  • The women should start a cottage industry in what they are good at, be it sewing or making handicrafts to earn money.
  • they should grow their pumpkin creepers so they can grow over the shelter and cover the place up to have some privacy and save money on food( they can make pumpkin soup)