This year is set to be another exceptional year for the food industry in Karachi and the Beach Luxury hotel is leading the way with its Pashtun cuisine themed Namak Mandi festival. Their ode to the rich cultural heritage of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is a feast, both for the eyes and stomach.
A sensory extravagance
The Namak Mandi festival is the first of many grand events the hotel has planned for food enthusiasts this year. On offer from January 4th to January 20th, this carefully curated cultural experience is intimate and exhilarating. Confined to the 007 hall, it aims to give diners a relaxed, dish-by-dish insight into Pashtun cuisine and what it would be like to stroll through the famous food street savouring renowned meaty dishes. To enhance the experience, there is live music and impromptu dance performances by energetic servers dressed in traditional embroidered black waistcoats and stark white kameez suits with pakol caps.
The careful attention to detail is visible throughout the evening. Be it the hall’s pillars wrapped in fairy lights and vinyl stickers exhibiting vibrant art or the buffet table display replete with copper pots and bright red matkas, everything stays true to the theme of the festival. In addition, there is live cooking to add some theatrics to the evening and to keep the food and good times rolling.
A dinner of meaty proportions
The tasting starts off with a laid-back palate cleansing khava and yakhni and then quickly progresses into a plethora of lip-smacking kebabs and karhais. I’d suggest you start with the single-serving sized chapli kebabs and then advance to the heavy weight Charsi Tikka and Namkeen Karhai. You can pair these with either Pulao or Kandhari naan, as per your preference.
The true success of each dish lies in its distinct flavour. Once you’ve sampled them all, you can move on to creamy palak for some vegetarian respite. Replete with golden nuggets of deep-fried paneer, it is real knockout. Wash it down with one of the four flavoured lassis and you can make room for the desserts on offer which include bite-sized Gulab Jamuns, Gajar ka Halwa and fragrant Kheer among other things.
The festival is a true celebration of Peshawar’s claim to culinary fame. You can come here for the food and stay for the entertainment. For Rs2,499/person (exclusive of taxes) this cultural experience is completely worth it. Barring the generic flower centrepieces on each table and the off-theme standard salads and bread basket, it is a real treat.
For someone who has never visited Peshawar, the robust dishes and clean flavours evoke a kind of ephemeral connection with the city. No matter your background, for a brief moment in time your mind will drift to Peshawar and the richness it adds to Pakistan’s culinary heritage.