The story goes that it was in the mid-fifties that a lady named Ms Sultana started to sell homemade Chapli Kebabs from a small tuck shop built in her house in a remote town called Tharo Jabba.
In no time, she became a household name and became known as Sultana Aany, which means 'respected old woman' in Pashto. Today, after more than half a century, the legacy of Sultana Aany lives on.
Her gastronomical creation, famous by the name of Tharo Kebabs, are consumed all year round at the eatery, which is now spread over 150 marlas, including its kitchen and the original residence.
Where to go
Rambil Kebab House is located in Tharo Jabba town in the district of Nowshera, about 13km away from Peshawar city. The dilapidated marquee puts a shade over 25 plus charpoys, while the family hall accommodates 18 more.
When to go
The eatery is open from 10am to 9pm. However if they run out of food, which they often do, the customers return home with empty stomachs!
What to eat
Rambil Kabab House only offers Tharo Kebabs on the menu, so you won't be wasting any time trying to decide what to eat.
Sultana Aany's three great-grand children, Rawal Gul, Naseem Gul and Raheem Gul, along with their brother-in-law Pervaiz Khan, station themselves behind two big woks and fry umpteen kebabs from morning to night. Sultana Aany’s grandson and father of the Gul brothers, Rambel Kaka supervises the cooking and the 15 waiters for the smooth flow of the customers
“I don’t know the number of customers we serve per day but you can do the math yourself. We slaughter two buffalos daily and 1200-500kg minced meat is consumed in 12 hours,” shares Naseem Gul, putting my poor arithmetic skills to the test.
“During the winter season, the number of slaughtered buffalos occasionally move from 2 to 3 or even 4, as winter is a high season for kebabs and so are the rainy days. At times we run out of the meat earlier then 9pm and the shop needs to be closed,” adds the other brother Raheem Gul .
A single charpoy easily seats three to four foodies, and as we were a party of five, the adjacent charpoy was made available for the guest from the capital.
In the first round, three plates with two chapli kebabs each were placed on the charpoys, along with homemade yogurt chutney and a simple salad made from raw onion, tomatoes and lemon. A jute basket carried piping hot naan fresh from the wooden clay tandoor. Kebabs were served within 15 minutes of our seating and hands were up for the second round within 10 minutes.
“Our USP (unique selling point) lies in the recipe of the kebab. The meat used for the kebabs does not come out of the electric machines; it’s a tedious and time consuming job carried out by experienced hands in 12 hours shift every day. More than 20 women mince the meat on a stone silbata (a utensil for grinding spices, grain, etc.) Once the meat is rightly crushed and ready, tomatoes, onions, dry coriander and homemade secret masala go into its marinade. The kebabs are shallow fried in buffalo fat, which is also called lart," reveal the Gul brothers.
The Tharo Kebabs definitely carried a taste of its own. The edges were rightly charred, crispy and crunchy, whereas the rest of the meat patty was moist and tender. After the first bite, it was obvious that the beef morsels in the mouth were chopped and not minced, which confirmed their USP.
As I was putting chunks of lart on the side, my Pathan friend was magically wiping them off my plate. I have had chapli kebabs many times, but these Tharo Kebabs, were unbeatable, nothing short of heavenly. We rounded off the meal with Peshawari Kewah.
When I asked if takeaway would taste the same, I was informed by my host that kilos of Tharo Kebabs are parceled every day to fly to UAE and Saudi Arabia for the expatriates craving for this Tharo delight.
Damage on the pocket:
Tharo Kebabs are priced Rs360 per kilo. Each plate serves two kebabs 250 grams each.