The Hunza Valley

The Hunza Valley is the place many believe was the inspiration for Shangri-La, the mythical utopia described in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. That said, some have cast doubt on whether Hunza was really the location

Huzza Valley

Recently, while I was in Hunza, I got to taste a range of different local foods, each of which reflect the bountiful natural setting and the striking geopolitics of the area.

Fried rice hunza

When I first arrived, I had my first non-Pakistani meal in days when I ordered the Chinese-style fried rice and jasmine green tea at my hotel’s restaurant. Ok, so it wasn’t the most authentic of Chinese dishes, but its mere presence on the menu symbolises the strategic trade route, the Karakoram Highway, on which the Hunza Valley lies.

Holio Garma

Holio Garma

The next day I decided to plunge into Hunzai cuisine head-on, by sampling the lunch offerings at the Hidden Paradise restaurant in Karimabad, the administrative centre of the Hunza Valley. Holio Garma is a mildly-spiced stew made of local spinach, potatoes, apricot kernels (a local specialty) and strips of flat bread, slow-cooked and eaten with a spoon.

Diram Shuro

Diram Shuro

With it I had walnut oil tea (the oil is extracted from locally-sourced walnuts), and for dessert, Diram Shuro, a rich and stodgy wheat-based dessert cooked with butter and sugar.

Hunza cherries

However the cherry on top, quite literally, were the cherries which grow with abundance around the valley. They were simply everywhere – on trees by roadsides, being offered in groups of people who had gone and picked a bowl-full, in restaurants… never have I seen so many of these berries in one place!

Hunza Cherries

I love cherries – they’re one of my favourite fruits (others include coconut, mango and pineapple). And considering how prized they are in many countries (they’re certainly not cheap or routinely available in Australia), to see them everywhere was like having the streets paved with gold.

Cherries in the late afternoon as the sun sinks over the Hunza Valley

Cherries in the late afternoon as the sun sinks over the Hunza Valley

Perhaps Hunza is Shangri-La after all.

Have you been to Hunza? Would you like to go? Comment below!


Comments (6)

  • Agness Reply

    What a beautiful spot, Tim! Seems like the weather really spoiled you, heh? And this yummy food! Wish I was there!

    July 14, 2016 at 4:54 am
    • Tim Blight Reply

      It was simply gorgeous, Agness, and the weather was almost perfect!! You’re always welcome to come on over to Pakistan 🙂 Thanks for reading 🙂

      July 15, 2016 at 7:44 pm
  • Andrew Boland Reply

    what an amazing part of the world youre in right now! Have to admit Im a little jealous!

    July 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Huzza is waiting for you, my friend 🙂

      July 16, 2016 at 8:49 pm
  • Anna @ shenANNAgans Reply

    Diram Shuro sounds really interesting, I was surprised to read that apricot kernels feature. And thats kinda funny a plate of fried rice was a welcome surprise. Hope you are kicking all the goals my friend. I will def be in Melbourne before the year is out, I do look forward to seeing you, it sure looks like you have been living the dream.

    August 7, 2016 at 5:53 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Hahahahaha you know how it is – sometimes the most surprising things bring joy – especially when it’s food!! I’ll hopefully be back in Melbourne by Christmas, so might see you then, or after? I’m kicking the goals – but you, lady, are winning at it!! So proud of you and how your hard work is paying off 🙂

      August 7, 2016 at 8:30 pm

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