Lost in Translation (A Desi Dictionary)

To make it easier for those of you who have not yet been fully exposed to ‘desi’ terminology or generally Urdu words. I will try to provide the most simplified translation for any non english word I use in this blog. If something gets missed (or needs to be corrected-hey it happens!), please by all means let me know as I would not want the humour, or rather craziness of my words to be lost in any way.

In Alphabetical order 


Beti: daughter

Bun Kabab: consists of a spicy patty which is shallow-fried, onions, and chutney or raita in a hamburger. Unlike a hamburger patty, the bun kebab is mixed with ground lentils, powdered cumin seeds, and an egg batter into a mixture which is then fried in ghee or oil. One may find bun kababs at vendor stalls throughout Pakistan, with regional differences evident. (full definition courtesy of wikipedia.)


Colloquial use/metaphors:

Burger:  Usually a derogatory term for a desi person (from Karachi) who most likely resides in posh areas of Defence/Clifton and although brought up in Pakistan likes to think of themselves as more Western, in how they speak, dress and interact. Look down upon anything typically or traditionally eastern.

Bun Kabab: Is a desi person (from Karachi) who has a lot of western influences however is very proud of their eastern roots. Hence the fusion of the desi kabab in a western burger format.


Chadar: Any kind of light fabric sheet e.g bed sheet, light blanket, sheet to put on the floor to sit and eat on etc

Desi: people, cultures or products originating from South Asia. These countries include, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh,Sri Lanka, Nepal and Maldives

Doodh Patti Chai: literally ‘milk tea’ is a type of tea drunk in South Asia where the milk, ground tea leaves and/or sugar are boiled together in water.

Elaichi: Cardamom

Ghee: Clarified, semi fluid butter made from the milk of a cow or buffalo, used in South Asian cooking.

Gobi (phool gobi): Cauliflower

Hakim: a physician in the sub-continent who used traditional medicines, often herbal.

Kameez: a long tunic representing the cultural attire of South Asians, usually worn with shalwar (similar to hammer pants with a narrow cuff at the ankle), churidaars (similar to tights with folds at the ankle) or pants.

Khala: Maternal Aunt i.e mother’s sister

Keema: ground beef

Masala: Spices

MashAllah: God Bless

Muft: for free

Muft Ki Writing: Writing for Free

Paratha: It is a flat bread (similar to roti) originating from South Asia. It is prepared by pan frying a mixture of whole wheat dough and usually contains ghee or cooking oil layered on the freshly prepared paratha. They can be made with stuffed potatoes, various vegetables or simply with a spread of butter to eat alongside different meat or curry dishes. Some roll it into a tube and it eat with tea, often times dipping it in the tea.

Pardesi: Foreigner (not desi)

Podina: Mint leaves

Seekh Kabab: Skewered grilled ground beef

Totka: Home remedies often passed down by generations

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