Karachi’s Delicious and Historic Burns Road

Dr. Saba Noor in Youlin:

Initially, the street was named after a British doctor/spy named James Burnes. Although the name was changed to Muhammad Bin Qasim Road Post-Partition, it is still known as Burns Road or more affectionately, “Buns Road”. But the neighborhoods around Burns Road are considered to have housed the earliest settlements in the city of Karachi, dating back to 1857.

Wealthy migrants from cities like Delhi settled in the Burns Road Area. Other migrants, ethnicities, and brotherhoods settled there, including the Punjabi Saudagaran-e-Delhi, a community of Punjabi Muslims who settled largely in the old parts of Delhi. Many of the food vendors trace their family linkage to this community of Muslims, and have wider associations with migrants from India. Some believe that food vendors started gathering on the road when migrants wanted to have the same culinary experiences they did in India.

This street has seen a lot of political turmoil and uncertainty, which affected how restaurants and vendors conducted their businesses, from Ayub’s 1964-65 campaign against Ms. Fatima Jinnah to the rise of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Party (MQM). Even in times of instability, people would gather here for the comfort of great food, and a strong sense of community in the face of changing times. And at times in broad daylight, the structures of the old buildings on Burns Road, and the uniquely crafted balconies feel like the ghosts of a bustling, cosmopolitan era of Karachi. This place is known for its diverse, yet humble food that caters to a range of tastes and pockets. Customers visit late into the night, and Burns Road is perhaps best enjoyed with an empty stomach and an open mind. While people have their favorite restaurants, it is recommended to experiment with new tastes and make new favorites. The following are some of the oldest institutions on the street, which have been serving delicious signature dishes for generations.

More here.