The Localist

Eating Chapli Kababs in Northern Pakistan

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“So as long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being” by Franz Kafka.

Well that’s true for me, I agree with Franz Kafka’s statement. A question was stuck in my mind a few days back, and I had no idea as how to find the best answer. Then, during dinner, I have started thinking of that question and here I am with the best possible answer. I believe that while eating you can find solutions to your problems. How??? Let me tell you.

Eating well is good for your mental as well as your physical health. Research shows that what you eat is one of the most powerful influences on everyday brain skills, your memory, attention span and ability to learn and you will benefit from the healthful foods you choose. As Orson Welles once said, “Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch”

So that your mind becomes sharp, I have selected a very delicious, appealing and enjoyable Pakistani dish for you called “Chapli Kabab or Chapal Kabab”. I’ll leave it up to you whether you have it for lunch or dinner. Once eat these tasty Kababs, I’m sure you will find crunchy, crispy, soft and juicy answers to all your questions.

The word kabab has its own ancient history; it has traveled far and wide through provinces, times and people, and has a universal appeal. The word Kabab originated from the Arabic language, but the word is also used in Persians, Turks and Central Asians cultures. It means to fry, burn or cook on a skewer through grilling or open fire cooking.

In Pakistan, chapli kabab originally comes from the northern areas, in particular Peshawer, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Peshawar is a historical city situated near Kyber Pass, close to Pak-Afghan border.

In the heart of the old city of Peshawar, “Qissa Khwani Bazar”, or ‘The Storytellers Market’, is situated. Unfortunately, these days the stories of the Amirs of Bokhara and the Khans of Khiva and regional love of ‘Adam and Dur Khani’ have been substituted by satellite receivers continuously breaking news and telling amazing tales of fiction from all over the world.

But the chapli kababs and tikka kababs remain famous delicacies and the most popular street food of the Qissa Khwani Bazar, and a lot of people like to eat them here when they visit Peshawar. People living in city have kept the old tradition alive. They still gather after work and chat with one another in front of the tea shops, sharing love and war stories and enjoying chapli kababs lunch or dinner.

The bazar is not only famous for its chapli kababs. There’s lots to offer visitors. One of the other reasons for its popularity is the fact that the legend of Indian film industry, actor Dilip Kumar was born in Qissa Khwani Bazaar on 11 December 1922.

Chapli kabab is a common dish in Pashtun cuisine and also considers a popular meal in Afghanistan. However people living in other areas of Pakistan pronounce it in Urdu language as Chapal Kabab.

The word chapli derives from the Pashto word chaprikh, which means “flat” These kebabs are round in shape like the flip flop, just like “Peshawari Chapal” traditional footwear, which is a cross between sandal and flip-flops and worn by Pakhtun men with shalwar kameez. The Chapli kababs are usually served with naan., along with green tea in winter, or a cold drink in the summer.

Traditionally the kababs are cooked on gigantic skillets in animal fat. Chapli/Chappal kebab is a patty made from beef mince mixed with onions, tomatoes, green chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt, black pepper, lemon juice or pomegranate seeds, eggs, chilli flakes, chilli powder, cornstarch and coriander leaves.

If you visit the northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially Peshawar, and you don’t eat these kababs, then you have really missed out. There are lots of famous shops in different towns around the capital famous for chapli kababs, like Charsadda, Takht bhai and Mardan.

The Jalil Kabab House and Taro Jabbaare famous Chapli kabab houses. Jalil Kabab House was set up in 1950 in Peshawar. The owner of the restaurant said that around 1,000 people including tourists, politicians, students and celebrities, dine on chapli kabab there every day, and almost the same number of people order them for home delivery on a daily basis. However Taro Jabba restaurant is providing its services since 1993.

The city of Mardan, also known as the city of hospitality, is also situated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. It is the de facto headquarters of the Yousafzai tribe and the second most populous city in the province. Mardan is famous for chapli kabab not only locally, but also internationally.

Many years ago the kabab was the poor man’s dish, but because of the high prices of the ingredients, it’s quickly becoming a luxury food.

Mouth-watering and mind numbing goodness, It is said true the chapli kabab is king of all kababs!

PAKISTAN-Palwasha-Khan-M

 

MEET THE LOCAL: PALWASHA KHAN

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