Updated Mar 14, 2017 11:51am

This soupy delicacy from south KP is Peshawar's new culinary craze

A popular traditional food Painda or Sohbuth in southern parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata has recently gained widespread fame in northern areas too because of its peculiar taste and composition.

A number of outlets offering traditional Painda have sprawled out in and around Peshawar over the last few years. Painda is not only a favourite dish of students but also local residents, who cherish it at parties, weddings, etc.

Also read: Could these chapli kebabs from Peshawar be the best in Pakistan?

Salahuddin Marwat, 68, who runs a Painda restaurant at Dhobi Ghat near Peshawar University, told this scribe that composition of Painda used to be simple. Describing the preparation of Painda, he said that domestic chicken cooked in desi ghee was strewn with small broken pieces of unfermented bread (chapatti), while pumpkin was used to make its soup more delicious. He said Marwats also offered Painda to guests at wedding ceremonies as a favourite food.

He said that now ghee, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon, tomato, potato and boneless chicken or beef steak were mixed in different spices which took four hours to cook. He said it was served with salad, raita and pickle.

Traditional painda comprises desi chicken cooked in ghee, strewn with small pieces of chapatti. Pumpkin is used to make its soup more delicious.

He added that his customers placed orders for takeaway and a many university students visited his cafeteria daily. He said he charged around Rs130 per person. “The flavour of Painda is relished now everywhere in KP and Fata .We should keep alive traditional foods as mark of our identity,” he maintained.

Wagma Siraj, a private university student in Peshawar and resident of Charsadda, told this correspondent that IDPs from southern districts and Fata introduced their unique culture, including a peculiar flavour of poetry, dance, music and foods, wherever they went. She said that Painda was one of them. She goes dining out to Saddar Bazaar every Monday evening to enjoy Marwat Painda along with her colleagues. “I have learned to cook Painda, but still I need a master hand to cook it for guests at home,” said Ms Siraj.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Waziristan and adjacent areas of Dera Ismail Khan, Tank, Lakki Marwat, and Bannu are responsible for introducing and popularising this delicious cuisine in Peshawar and other areas. Marwat, Wazir and Bannuchi Pakhtun tribes take credit for traditional Painda. Some people call it Warra Marrai, Randa Cherga or Taodai in their own respective dialects.

"Painda reflects a family's mutual love and unity as everyone eats from one dish," remarks local lecturer Rahim Shah

Amjad Ali, an Islamia College University student and a resident of Mardan, said that he came to Dhobi Ghat to enjoy Painda along with his classmates.

He said that great rush was being seen, as students came from the university hostels to two Painda cafeterias located at Dhobi Ghat to dine out there . “Some of the students placed orders for their hostel rooms to entertain their private guests. “It is a delicious food, which is also good for a soft stomach,” he observed.

Painda is already popular in most Pakhtun areas whether in south or northwest of KP and Fata, but with different names and cooking styles. Painda or Pund is a Pashto word which means ‘gathering’. Long ago, people used to cook Painda or a similar single dish for their family who would huddle around a big open dish called khanak to enjoy the most scrumptious food. In southern districts, Painda is available at restaurants in bazaars where local residents also offer it to guests.

Rahim Shah, a lecturer at a local college on Warsak road and resident of Bannu, remarked that Painda reflected mutual love and unity of family members typical of Pakhtun culture as everyone ate from one dish.


Originally published in Dawn, March 13th, 2017

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Comments (11) Closed



Kau Mar 14, 2017 11:02am

Looks great,Could it be possible to have the recipe . Thanks

Dr Accountant Mar 14, 2017 11:39am

The author forgot to mention one of the basic and the sweetest reason as to why it's presented the way it is. The reason is that the guests keep on eating till their bellies are full without being hesitant, if you take a naan or two when you're a guest you will hesitate to take a third one, but with painda you don't realize how much have you eaten until you can't move. !

irfan Mar 14, 2017 12:26pm

4 cups of oil, 2kg chicken, 1kg onion, 1kg tomatoes, 4 tablespoons red chillies, dry coriander 2tablespoons, first make onions dark brown, now add red chillies powder, and salt ,add chicken 2kg and fry well then add tomatoes and coriander seeds and fry well, now add 4 litres water and boil for half an hour, now cook 2 chappatis per head , break it in small pieces, now separate oil from curry in separate dish, pour remaining curry on bread pieces until they are all wet in curry, now mix well, put oil separated earlier from curry on each serving.

Princess_of_DHUMP Mar 14, 2017 12:33pm

New craze? I have been having it for over 20 years now

wazir Mar 14, 2017 01:43pm

Just to add on for the info of readers it is cooked in desi chicken only and not the poultry chicken.Poultry Chicken will destroy its taste.

pashtun_khan Mar 14, 2017 02:41pm

Painda is eaten 3/4 times a week since i was a child. we all sit together and eat until your are full and its a way to enjoy the company of family and friends whilst discussing the events of the day or family situations. being born in the UK the pakhtunwali traditions were kept very strong in my family and Painda was the highlight of the week were we had it at the weekend. Its especially delicious with tomatoes, onions and cucumbers thrown at top after you have prepared the Painda (don't do it before otherwise the salad will turn to mush) and also a little bit of Greek yogurt. I am happy that my children who are also born in the UK love this dish. Culinary masterpiece? No. However for us it describes the malmastia of Pakhtunwali and we might be high powered professionals with high qualifications but i will always be a muslim pashtun tribesman and simple food is the best.

Sara Mar 14, 2017 03:24pm

Desi chicken and desi ghee is a must for this dish.

Rehana Agha Mar 14, 2017 07:12pm

When would Painda get a visa fo America? We are waiting. :)

Z Khan Mar 14, 2017 11:35pm

great to see our southern KP local dish finding space in Dawn. settled here in the UK for over a decade, all the sweet memories of childhood started flooding in to see this warra marai Painda and could hardly contain my hunger now :) will certainly have this sumptuous dish once visit home again.

ISRAR Mar 15, 2017 01:05pm

yeah a simple dish more like leftovers but to be honest it reflects unity and family bonding, people enjoy this dish because they enjoy each other's company and share the dish ... this is such a massive and old dish that when british came here they too took something away from this dish and now use this very similar recepie as their boxing day lunch (using turkey instead of chicken ) Amazing how culture travels

pakistani Mar 15, 2017 06:49pm

What? So do we have to go to Peshawar to eat it. Lets open up some restaurants in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad too.