Population in Houston: 26,000 (the 2nd largest Pakistani population in the country)
“Not a month goes by when a music group or bunch of actors from Pakistan are not performing in a concert either at [UH’s] Cullen Performance Hall, NRG Stadium, TSU, etc.” —Kaiser Lashkari, owner/chef, Himalaya
Chatt n Paan
6121 Hillcroft, Ste. M2, 713-774-0274
Parents/spouse won’t let you have a game room at home? No worries. Chatt n Paan is here for you, with all the billiards, table tennis and arcade games you could want, in addition to regular chess tournaments and an assortment of chaat, or snack items, from samosas and bun kebab to fragrant cups of chai, all served in a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere.
6121 Hillcroft St., Ste. T, 713-981-4199, facebook.com/gulshanmithai
Generally considered the best Pakistani grocery store in Houston, Gulshan-e-Iqbal keeps its patrons up to date on sales via its Facebook page, which touts specialty items such as Chaunsa mangos—a coveted delicacy from abroad—Medjool dates and freshly-made mithai, or sweets. You can even find cricket kits here amongst the halal cuts of beef and sacks of Laxmi chickpea flour.
6652 Southwest Fwy., 713-532-2837, himalayarestauranthouston.com
Houston’s best-known Pakistani restaurant is acclaimed for its rich curries and deeply spiced dishes, including mirchon ka salan, a famous Hyderabad chili pepper dish that takes owner/chef Kaiser Lashkari over four hours to prepare and contains 67 different ingredients. In addition to traditional goat masala and vegetable biryani, don’t miss the Hunter’s Beef Plate; Himalaya is the only North American eatery to serve the barbecue beef with mustard sauce made famous by Hanifia Restaurant in Karachi.
Houston Cricket League
By far the most popular sport in Pakistan, cricket is played by youngsters and oldsters alike, and matches are heavily attended. In Houston, Tom Bass Park hosts local cricket clubs nearly every weekend on its five cricket pitches—no cabbage patches here—as groups such as the Houston Cricket League, Triggers Cricket Club, Houston Taped Ball Cricket and many more bowl it out. Professional matches, meanwhile, can be seen at Smart Choice Moosa Stadium in Pearland, which recently hosted the 2015 Indo Pak Cup.
Houston’s biggest Desi radio station broadcasts on both sides of the dial—95.1 FM and 1460 AM—and hosts a live stream online, keeping listeners connected to news and music from Pakistan as well as the many local events and concerts that Sangeet itself has produced since the station’s inception 18 years ago.