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Chap shuro marks the beginning: Pakistan’s renowned ‘nutritious pizza’

A blend of meat pie and paratha, with a hint of quesadilla influence, representing a substantial tradition linked with the renowned Hunza hospitality worldwide.

“Chef Lal Shahzadi demonstrated how to create the filling by deftly combining assorted meats, such as yak or chicken, and enclosing them within the fluted folds of dough. Her skilled hands worked effortlessly, sealing fragrant minced meat within the dough’s intricate layers.

Glancing at me, clearly surprised by the unconventional meat choices, she playfully grinned and suggested chicken as an alternative.

Operating her food kiosk, the Hunza Food Pavilion, near the ancient Baltit Fort in Karimabad, capital of the Hunza District, Gilgit-Baltistan province, Pakistan, Shahzadi is known as “Hunza’s Superwoman.” Against the backdrop of the Ultar glacier and the historic fort, she serves an array of regional favorites, like giyaling, apricot soup, and chamus, to locals and tourists alike. Renowned for using organic, locally sourced ingredients, Shahzadi specializes in traditional Hunza cuisine. One of the most iconic dishes, chap shuro, is synonymous with the Gilgit-Baltistan region and is found throughout the area, from food stalls to family homes.

In the local Burushaski language, chap means meat, gunsho means onions, and shoro means bread. Resembling a mix of meat pie, paratha, and quesadilla, chap shuro represents hearty Hunza hospitality, often offered alongside salty yak milk tea.

Shahzadi takes immense pride in crafting chap shuro, a process that unfolds like an artist revealing their masterpiece. The dish, which reflects a history of warmth and hospitality, was traditionally baked in stone ovens, but Shahzadi now prepares it over a fire, a continuation of the time-honored tradition. She meticulously rolls out thin rotis, typically using whole-wheat, buckwheat, or millet flour sourced from her own land.

Once the dough is ready, Shahzadi adds a lightly spiced filling of onions, garlic, cumin, coriander, mint, saffron, green chili, and the chosen minced meat. She seals the filling between two rotis, creating an elaborate border with a touch of elegance.

While frying the chap shuro in a shallow pan, Shahzadi uses her homemade apricot and walnut oil, extracted from almond-kernels and walnuts grown in her orchards. She grinds her spices by hand and ensures the use of locally raised chicken, goat, or yak.

The dish offers various interpretations and styles. Some chefs, including Shahzadi, prefer to pre-cook the meat filling, while others marinate it beforehand, allowing it to steam within the dough during frying. The preparation method also influences the texture, ranging from a soft naan-like cloudiness to a crispy, golden crunch.

Ultimately, chap shuro symbolizes Hunza’s sincere hospitality—a fusion of meat, onions, and bread, crafted with care to welcome guests into the homes and hearts of the local people.”

At her food stall, Shahzadi manually dices the meat to achieve a satisfyingly tender consistency. She then slices the cooked chap shuro into triangular portions, resembling pizza slices, and pairs it with a rich, nut-infused yogurt raita. As an alternative to frying, the chap shuro can be baked for half an hour, and a final touch involves brushing it with apricot or walnut oil.

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