The residents of inner part of Peshawar city hardly let pass any morning without enjoying a bowl of Nika Seri Pai for breakfast, especially during the winter season.
The popular Nika Seri Pai, served at an outlet opposite to the historic heritage Gor Khatri, enjoys a reputation for being tasty, spicy and clean food. Soon after the morning prayers, the locals begin swarming the fresh Nika outlet and on weekends foodies rush to the popular food point to relish the tasty dish for breakfast.
Umar Daraz, the owner of Nika Seri Pai, claimed that his great grandfather Naik Mohammad aka Nika had introduced the special food in the city. He said that his is the fifth generation to carry on the cultural legacy of his forefathers.
He added that he had been running the food outlet for the last decade or so after the death of his father.
Recently, a Thailand-based foodblogger Mark Wiens produced a video of Nika Seri Pai and termed it the best food on the breakfast menu. Also, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Food Authority officials had issued a quality food certificate to the outlet.
Riaz Mateen, 70, a resident of Yakatoot locality in Peshawar, told this scribe that every Sunday he walked up to the outlet to enjoy breakfast of Nika Seri Pai.
He said that he was in his early teens when he started picking up Nika Seri Pai.
“Nika Seri Pai has maintained its quality since long. At this age, I cannot consume too much spicy food but I don’t want to miss my Sunday breakfast at Nika outlet,” the septuagenarian foodie stated.
“My grandfather had transferred the skill of cooking Seri Pai to my father and he then trained me how to mix up different ingredients to prepare a spice for cooking feet and skull of the buffaloes.
My father late Haji Nazeer used to take part in every food festival held at both national and provincial levels. He had won first position for quality traditional food,” said the young vendor.
He said that the recipe being simple included pure turmeric, garlic, ginger, red chilies, pepper, ghee and salt that took 12 to 14 hours to get ready for serving in the bowls.
He said that his permanent local costumers booked a bowl package for the expected guests.
“A home package bowl, having price between Rs150 to Rs1,500, could be served to four to six persons. Only around 15 persons could be served Seri Pai at my small food outlet while a family space is available,” he said Mr Daraz.
Sajjad Anwar, a food expert, said that Seri Pai was slow cooked on low heat for hours most often overnight on the stove. However, he said, it was nowadays usually cooked in a pressure cooker.
“This dish has a soup-like consistency and is usually eaten as a breakfast food in the winter months with Naan. A number of curry-based spices are then added to the meat and bones.
The cooked Seri Pai is served with a garnish of fresh diced ginger and fresh long coriander leaves, along with fresh sliced lemon,” said Mr Anwar.
The owner of Nika Seri Pai said that on Sundays, he put feet and skulls of eight buffaloes in big clay-made bowl on coal fire and sometime on gas stove.
He said that foodies from every part of the city and the adjacent localities approached Nika Seri Pai.
Originally published in Dawn, November 19th, 2018