Cuisine of Peshawar: What Makes it so Distinct?

The Pashtuns, tribal people, indigenous peshawari families living in the walled city and Afghans all make up the population of Peshawar. Each community has its own specialty; and for generations has retained their flavors and techniques. However three shared and prominent features are:

• Lamb is the most preferred meat
• Food is not spicy
• Animal fat is used instead of ghee/oil

The following peshawari food should be tried out at all costs:

Cuisine of Peshawar: Breakfast

Winters are here and so Paye (of lamb and beef) is a must. A variation is ‘kala’ made from beef paye and broken bits of bread soaked in it. Another is ‘kala siri pancha’ comprising of crushed brain and skull served in an earthenware bowl with roghni naan, bakerkhawani (roti made with white flour and dried milk) or vermicelli.

Meethi Haleem or Bukhara Haleem is exclusive to Peshawar, and was once only available in one shop in Qisa Khawani Bazaar, but now can be found at multiple points. It is also taken at breakfast; it is made from wheat, rice, meat and seven different pulses. Later sugar is added, and it is garnished with hot oil and fried eggs or boiled eggs. Another version is to add cinnamon, sugar and cream. Then garnished with hot oil, nuts and dried fruit.

Cuisine of Peshawar: Breads

One can find a great assortment of breads made in tandoors (traditional clay ovens). A few which are distinctive there:

Peshawari naan (stuffed with pistachios, desiccated coconut and raisins),

Crispy maize bread (with leek, spring onions and fresh chillis kneaded in the dough and then fried).

Khajoor (fist shaped rolls made from wheat flour, ghee, gurh syrup and dried fruits).

Cuisine of Peshawar: Traditional Dishes

Peshawar is known far and wide for its chapli kebabs (chiefly made from minced beef, yet some places have started using mutton or chicken) because of the different ingredients used. They actually originated in KPK, and the word comes from a Pahto word ‘chaprikh’ which means flat. There are about 2000 kebab houses in the city.

The Tikkas and Karahi available in Namak Mandi are one of their kind. A blend of Iranian and Afghani cooking, tikkas are simply meat flavored with salt. Rack of Ribs are also cooked in the same manner and are well liked too and are known as ‘Pukhtay’. While in karahi; meat pieces are cooked with tomato, garlic and ginger in animal fat (now chicken karahi is also made). A popular starter is patay tikka, which is liver of lamb covered and cooked in its fat.

Namkeen Gosht is also synonymous with KPK. A delectable dish made with boneless lamb, cooked with ginger and green chillis in animal fat. Variations are also available.

Cuisine of Peshawar: Desserts

In conventional sweets we have Kulfi Falooda, which is very popular and the one available in Chowk Yaadgar is so good, that it is frequently transported to Lahore. Then we have Kheer, and the one that is available in Qissa Khawani Bazaar has no equivalent.

While an unusual one is Nishasta ka Meetha is made by soaking wheat for a fortnight changing water every day. It is then mashed into a thick paste. This is left in the sun to dry for another week, until it turns into powder after which it is mixed with jaggery (coarse dark brown sugar) and fried in ghee.

Cuisine of Peshawar: Beverage

Green Tea is the main drink served there which is opulent and delicious.  and . Reason being is that it is prepared in a ‘Samovar’. It is a metal kettle which contains a compartment inside where traditionally coals were placed. Around that section is where the water, tea leaves and cardamoms are added. However nowadays gas is being used.

Food Street @ The Peshawar Heritage Trail Project

Hopefully your taste buds are tingling by now, and the next time you visit you won’t miss out on anything! The good news is that a Food Street is also part of The Peshawar Heritage Trail Project. Now the rich and varied cuisine of Peshawar is available for all visitors and tourists in one place. So you can enjoy mouth watering dishes in equally attractive surroundings!