Known in Sanskrit as Purushpur, the city of men, Peshawar is an ancient city, now in Pakistan. It finds mention in the Zend Avesta as the seventh most beautiful place in the world. Over the centuries Peshawar came under the rule of Kanishka, the Mughals, the Sikhs and the British giving it a unique historical tradition and culture. In fact even the Soviet War in Afghanistan had a positive impact on the city as it became a cultural centre for refugee Afghan artists.
Peshawar like Delhi has an old walled city and a rich culinary tradition. It is famous for its Namak mandi which is not a salt market but a place known for its delectable food! Known for using minimum spices and sometimes just salt, Namak mandi dishes are char-grilled or made in kadhai and are known for retaining the original flavor of the main ingredient.
Peshawari food has a dominant Pashtun influence but a lot in its taste and ingredients borrow from the city’s rich culture and history.
Chef Vikas Nigam from Radisson Blue Kaushambi which recently hosted Peshawari food festival in its flagship restaurant Kama is an expert in this menu and doles out in perfection some of the most amazing dishes from this cuisine. “Peshawar recipes are full of flavor and are known for the mindful use of spices. While cooking a Peshawari dish the first concern is to ensure that the original taste of the dish is not lost, “says the chef.
Some popular Peshawari dishes include:
Namkeen Mutton Karahai: Made with mutton, tomatoes, ginger, green chillies and animal fat, it has an unforgettable taste.
Suleymani Murgh Ke Kebab: Chicken marinated and deep fried and then cooked in dum with yoghurt and spices from the street of Peshawar.
Peshawari Raan: Whole leg of spring lamb braised with marinade of malt vinegar, cumin and finished on griddle.
Chana Pudhine Ka Shorba: Thin lentil soup finished with lemon, mint & butter.
Payee ka Shorba: Lamb trotters broth flavored with whole spices.
Maash Pulao: Sweet and sour pulao baked with mung beans, apricots and bulgar.
Qatlama: This out of the world bread looks like a large thin-crust pizza and Chef Vishal Nigam says that it is actually a deep fried bread topped with gram flour, chili paste, and green moong chilka that gives it a crunchy flavor.
Peshawari Biryani: What makes it different from the regular Biryanis is a sweet aftertaste and the crunch of added lentils.