Published Apr 23, 2016 11:00am

Peshawar's newest dhaba is run by a woman, and she's called it Naan Sense

On the menu is Racket Naan (stuffed with cheese and coriander) and Dumper Naan (nutella-filled)
On the menu is Racket Naan (stuffed with cheese and coriander) and Dumper Naan (nutella-filled)

PESHAWAR: It is not a new concept, but in a place like Peshawar when a woman becomes first to open up ‘dhaba’ style open-air café called ‘Naan Sense’, it is talk of the town.

The small café called ‘Naan Sense’ located amid shopping malls and cafes run by male owners in the University Town stands out not only because of colourful truck art painted on the exterior, but also because of the fact that it is the only café in the locality with open-air seating where families and youth enjoy the snacks and chit-chat till it remains open in the night.

“I brought my family, especially women and girls, to the opening first,” said Laila, a young woman hailing from Punjpir village of Swabi district who has opened the dhaba-style café.

The colorful exterior, the chairs and tables painted with funny sentences or verses from unknown folks usually seen on trucks amuse one as one waits for the strong tea (Karak Chai) and naan (bread) which come in different sweet, salty and savory fillings. Ataullah Esakhelvi’s song ‘Qamees Teri Kaali’ and Pashto tunes often keep the clients calm as they wait for their hot cup of tea and naan.

“My brother said it won’t run, but I have proved him wrong so far. Girls and families are coming,” said Laila who herself manages the kitchen, the staff and clients.

“Cooking is my passion and I thought why not open up a café and let people enjoy my recipes especially the ones whom village-folk and young would love alike,” said Laila who feels ‘Naan Sense’ food and beverages is a fusion of western and eastern cuisine.

She makes the marinades or stuffing of the naan herself and improvises her recipes from time to time. Not only the naan taste great but the catchy names like Racket (paneer and coriander), Dumper (nutella), and many such flavors cater to young and old alike.

“The best thing about this place is the disposable colorful cups and plates. One doesn’t need to bother much about if it is clean or not,” said a regular client Sana who is a hygiene freak when it comes to eating out in a restaurant with family and friends.

Laila said that some people complain about the prices, but providing food in disposable utensils ensures they get clean, unadulterated food.

“My top priority is to keep the kitchen clean and follow all the SOPs of keeping cleanliness,” she said.

Laila, being a single parent, feels it is important for women to follow their passion like her and become independent financially. She feels pride in opening up a small food and tea outlet to provide youth to come out and have a cup of tea and chit-chat with friends.

Students from the University of Peshawar were regular visitors due to the friendly youthful atmosphere of the café. It has been only a few months, but Laila feels it her success that women despite it being a male-dominated society are coming in great numbers to the café. She is planning to introduce other traditional food and beverages in summer that is part of village life and not available in restaurants of the city.

Originally published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2016


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Comments (44) Closed

Shafique Rahib Khan Apr 23, 2016 11:23am

What a fantastic name ! "Naan Sense". I like it.

Asim Iqbal Apr 23, 2016 11:30am

Had a dinner with my friends at the cafe last night. Its just wonderful..

Bob Apr 23, 2016 11:39am

Congratulations young lady. Your food seems to be yummy. Feel like tasting some. It is not possible as i am from India.

Desi Dimag Apr 23, 2016 11:42am

I'm impressed with her creative sense. I wish her best of luck.

Afsana Apr 23, 2016 11:43am

Wow...what a creative idea!!

Abdul Jabbar Apr 23, 2016 12:16pm

Well done. Let us encourage such initiatives to bring colour and life to or society. KPK, Peshawar needs it. A lady doing it, hats off to her. Lets us support

mantharia Apr 23, 2016 12:18pm

Good Luck to you Girl .

Parvez Apr 23, 2016 12:22pm

Loved it ..... what an enterprising lady......brilliant.

Sumbal Bashir Apr 23, 2016 12:31pm

Wow, you rock! Keep up the good work!

Gaurav Arya Apr 23, 2016 12:40pm

God bless you, sister. You are AWESOME !!!

Skeptic Apr 23, 2016 12:44pm

'Naan Sense'. What a load of cheese!!

Saadia Usman Apr 23, 2016 12:45pm

Well done and way to go.we need more women to come forward

Mobeena Apr 23, 2016 12:56pm

What a creative & fantastic initiative. Congratulations & all the best, Laila. Great entrepreneurship.

Asif Apr 23, 2016 01:29pm

Very well done. And I liked the name.

bary patwal Apr 23, 2016 02:07pm

All Hails to Laila for her courage, you go girl (y)

ashutosh mishra Apr 23, 2016 02:21pm

Only someone as creative as you could do that. You'd be a superhit the day you are permitted to set up a franchise here on our soil. Well, till then do a good business there, serve some fantastic, hygienic food to your customers, and I'll enjoy all that too when I come visiting your country. Bahut majedar idea nikala hai;

50 Shades of Khaki Apr 23, 2016 02:26pm

Loved the name. You go Girls. Will visit Inshallah on my next visit to Peshawar

haseeb Apr 23, 2016 02:59pm

I applaud your decision and thinking a lot , every lady should think like this and have a confidence in herself . In today's society nothing is impossible but requires a bit of hard work and a strong determination to achieve ones aim . Its not about the phenomena of male dominant society , its about the persons own personality . If you r strong in your decisions , you can achieve your goal with a distinction .

jawad Pakistani Apr 23, 2016 03:21pm

I feel so proud of reading this article. God bless you keep you safe! No other food taste as good as Peshawari food.

alex Apr 23, 2016 03:28pm

"Naan Sense" v "None Sense" . interesting name and concept. Good luck

karachi Wally Apr 23, 2016 03:30pm

Pakistan is changing surely!! keep it up

Nawab Apr 23, 2016 04:09pm

Excellent idea,

Sajjad Apr 23, 2016 05:22pm

I feel so good reading this news. More power to you Laila!

Naveed Lotia Apr 23, 2016 06:10pm

Wow. What a great, catchy name! Love the truck art theme and the LOGO, Brilliant!!!!

Sohail Apr 23, 2016 06:59pm

"My brother said it won't run but I have proved him wrong so far" wow what a passionate lady, would love to visit your dhaba one day, kudos.

Inspiristant Apr 23, 2016 07:19pm

Superb Lady! Wonderful! Keep inspiring us!

nayyar Apr 23, 2016 08:18pm

wonder fulname.ilike it.

S* Apr 23, 2016 08:20pm

Name is so repelling. Naansense. As if nonsense

Jalilurrahman Apr 23, 2016 09:11pm

Keep up the good work young lady.Wish I was there to Taste your Naans.looking at the pictures of pretty Naans made me hungry and homesick.

Abdullah Apr 23, 2016 09:14pm

What a superb idea.........hats off to

Salem Apr 23, 2016 09:18pm

Way To Go Pakistani Woman Entreprenure

Sundar Apr 23, 2016 10:57pm

Pakistan needs more and more Laila (from Punjpir).Pakistan Print and visual media should give priority to such news and such people who are self-made and remain a role model for youngsters. The beautiful confession is that strict adherence will take people to top position. Ms.Laila proved that. Such people should be given priority by news media. The world is fed up with hearing destructive news from Pakistan and its indulgence in encouraging terrorists.

khurram khan Apr 24, 2016 03:48am

Wonderful Ms.Laila. Women empowerment especially in areas of KPK is appaudable.U seem like to have an excellent entrepreneurial skills.I wish U a very best of Luck.I hope one day ,U will have franchises in cities like Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad.U go girl.

Izhai ali Apr 24, 2016 06:30am

Your approch is ridicolsily awsome ,keep it on, you provide such a yummy foods for Peshawar and it vicinity

Thoroughthinker Apr 24, 2016 10:33am

Naan Sense? Very well adapted from Naan Stop, started by some educated young people in Islamabad.

Chris Roberts Apr 24, 2016 01:32pm

Wonderful! What an excellent idea from an enterprising lady. This may well inspire other women entrepreneurs. Follow your passion while providing a service to the community. Well done!

shiza shakeel Apr 24, 2016 01:41pm

Wow ! Amazing thought Really appreciated All the best

suren Apr 24, 2016 10:12pm

Congratulations for a fantastic fast food joint. If I could, I would love to come and enjoy your paneer coriander naan and karak tea with my Pakistani friend. Wishing you all the success

Spookster Apr 25, 2016 07:49am

This is awesome. I just wish she wouldn't use disposable plates etc - bad for the environment.

nastik Apr 25, 2016 10:21am

Wow.. Such a courageous girl

Bread& Butter Apr 25, 2016 01:28pm

Looks like the no nonsense Naans!

SDA Apr 26, 2016 11:42am

Congrats and be safe.

Muhammad yahya Apr 27, 2016 08:26pm

This is a good news for the citizen of peshawar. We wil come and taste the food and tea of Laila ok

Dr.Cajetan Coelho Apr 29, 2016 11:43pm

Bon appetite - Naan Sense !