“However, its taste is remarkable and still liked by local residents,” she said.
“However, its taste is remarkable and still liked by local residents,” she said.

In hilly areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Swat district, a homemade delight ‘Durbish’ brings family members and friends together especially in winter season to enjoy its taste and delicacy. The traditional delight is served to participants at friends’ parties and family gatherings.

According to local residents, a full-size tasty ‘Durbish’ requires two kilogrammes of pure milk, 15 desi eggs, desi ghee, mint, a teaspoonful each of sugar and soda, half a kilo of wheat flour, dry fruits and yeast to be mixed well and then baked on preferably charcoals for 30 to 45 minutes.

“Durbish is sweet bread baked by women which makes any celebration special. The women in remote villages in Swat have more than one version of homemade breads and cakes,” said a local resident.

Wajid Ali, a resident of Swat’s Khawzakhela locality, told this scribe that ‘Durbish’ was still popular and served to guests and friends and even gifted to people on propitious occasions.

He said women in hilly areas baked the traditional cake in different ways, but its recipe remained unchanged for decades. He stated that winter was considered to be the fit season when ‘Durbish’ was served with black tea during breakfast, but it could also be enjoyed without it.

Rashida Haleem, a girl student from Shangla at the University of Peshawar, said that her mother had taught her how to bake ‘Durbish’ for guests.

She said that the delight sometimes brought family members together to enjoy it as the word ‘Durbish’ literally meant a precious pearl in Persian.

“This is what my mom had told me. I don’t know where this word had been derived from and how it came to call a homemade cake ‘Durbish’.

However, its taste is remarkable and still liked by local residents,” she said.

Shaukat Zaman, a food expert in Peshawar, said that composition of traditional foods, including homemade dishes or beverages, couldn’t be billed as safe from health point of view because its ingredients most often were not taken care of and kept in places or shelves exposed to unclean environment.

“I have consumed such food items during my visit to upcountry districts, but a few household were able to preserve food items. I found ‘Durbish’ a delicious traditional delight and I was pleased to know that village women were aware of how to bake the indigenous cake,” Mr Zaman said.

Mareena Yousafzai, another housewife from Kohistan based in Peshawar, said that ‘Durbish’ used to be baked in upper Kohistan areas in a different manner and local residents relished it on special happy occasions.

She said that most traditional foods and beverages were the result of master hands of village women. “Village women are skilled in many things, including cooking, baking and roasting, as their parents trickle down such training to their daughters,” she said.


Originally published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018

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