"Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you who you are," wrote renowned gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin in 1825.
Food holds an important part in the culture of any country or nation. Though, every city of Pakistan share the same culture and traditions with just a little diversions in it, Peshawar keeps its place in being one of the culturally diverse cities of Pakistan. This one of the oldest cities of the world is extremely rich in food culture. Food in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa involves the use of mild aromatic spices and relatively less oil used in characterizing the Central Asian and Middle Eastern influence as province has a history with these regions.
However, meat plays a more dominant role in Pakistani food, compared to other South Asian cuisines, most of the food items in Peshawar also include meat. Foods of this city are very tasty and rightly famous too. Where ever you will be travelling in Peshawar, you will face no difficulty in finding some very nice and spicy food. From Chapli Kabab to Tikka (both seekh and karahi, mutton and beef), from Falooda to Mewa-Chana Pulao (Rice with chickpeas and raisins), from Nan (flat bread) to Kehwa (green tea), you name it and you will get one of the best food stuff in this part of Pakistan.
Another specialty about Peshawar is that it has a variety of not only the cooked food but also has the variety of experts who cook it. For instance there are more than one famous persons who cook Chapli Kabab. But each one of them is famous on the account of being giving a taste which is different from the other. Despite the arrival of international food chains like Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonald's, Turkish Doner and nationally acclaimed food chains like Chai Khan and Barbeque Tonight, the popularity of the traditional dishes and food items is still at its peak.
CHAPLI KABAB: It is a spicy dish in round shape made of ground beef and cooked mostly in animal fat. It is a recipe of Peshawar that gives the city an identification throughout the world. The recipes for Chapli Kabab commonly have a lot of fat content like Charbi (Animal Fat) and Eggs. It also has a healthy portion of Coriander, Ginger, Garlic, chili powder, sour grape and Zeera when mixed with onion and tomato.
People from all over the country, do eat Chapli Kabab whenever they visit the city. It best to eat when when served hot straight from the large frying pans. The cooks are very expert as they keep their hands safe when they put the kabab into boiling hot oil.
There are well known Kabab houses in different parts of the city and most of the time wether its winter or summer they remain very crowded.
There was said to be a Kabab House in Nothia area where President Sikander Mirza and Ayub Khan used to visit just to have a dinner of Chapli Kabab. They used to take the PIA evening flight, to have their favourite kabab flown, over for their dinner.
Kabab Houses on University Road, G.T. Road, Bakhshi Pul, Saddar, Nothia, Bara Road are very famous and each one has its own customer as they are well known for the best kababs amongst the locals.
TIKKA: Tikka is another famous dish of Peshawar. There are two main types Tikka is being cooked. One barbeque and the other in Karahi (fried). Both are famous but the most famous of them is Karahi Tikka (mostly of mutton) cooked in famous market of Namak Mandi. Ones famous as a whole sale market for salt, Namak Mandi has now a number of restaurants that serve brilliantly cooked Karahi Tikka.
Interestingly, the experts of this dish do not use oil instead they use the animal fats and cook the mutton in the same by only using green pepper and tomato. This is a dish that is heavy in eating and people with high blood pressure or heart problem must stay away from it. The beef Tikka is cooked in two steps. First the small pieces of beat are grilled on coal and then they are fired in the karahi using the same green pepper and tomato.
MEWA CHANNA PULAO (Rice with raisins and Chick peas): Though not very rich in its recipes of rice, yet this dish has its own place and is famous throughout Pakistan. This is an old dish and is being served in the city for centuries. Mostly this is a dish of occasions like wedding. Sometimes, beef is also used in the Pulao which makes it more tasty and delicious. This dish is closest to the Kabuli Pulao but it does not have pieces of carrot like the Kabuli Pulao. Interesting fact about this dish is it does not give a bad taste or a double taste even as it includes raisins (which are sweet in taste) and chick peas (which are salty).
FALOODA: Falooda, a sweet dish mainly found on the Peshawar markets and bazaars especially Qisa-Khwani Bazaar. Falooda, which can be put in the columns of beverages, is a popular sweet dish in the subcontinent. It is made primarily by mixing rose syrup with vermicelli, tapioca seeds, ice-cream along with either milk or water. Falooda is an adaption of the Persian dessert Faloodeh and was brought to the subcontinent by the Persophilic Mughal Kingdom. Though falooda is also available in other cities of the country like rabri falooda in Lahore, but falooda served in Peshawar has its own popularity and customer.
NAN: Peshawari Nan is a flat-bread in circle shape. There are handmade ovens which are made by placing a soil-made huge pots inside the ground, which has a direct connection of natural gas to it. It needs some expertise in making Nan. The makers of this food item use the dow and after giving it a circular shape they place it on the especially made cloth and then they paste the dow inside the walls of the big oven or stove. They bring the Nan out of the stove when it is fully baked. Roghani Nan and Roghani Paratha are also some of the best Nans that can be eaten in the breakfast. People take these Nans with them to different parts of the country as the taste that is find in Peshawar is not available anywhere else.
GREEN TEA: Commonly known as Kehwa, green tea is famous from centuries and is still served in Peshawar especially after meals. Qissa Khwani Bazar (Street of Story-tellers) is famous for the restaurants that serve green tea. There are a number of positive aspects regarding usage of green tea but above all it helps you in digesting heavy food. People like to have a cup of green tea in Peshawar especially after eating Chapli Kabab or Tikka. Fresh lime is also used to enhance the taste of green tea and people who wants to loose wait take green tea by using ginger in it.