Nisar Khan Charsi Tikka is one of the best meat restaurants in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Cooking without oil, and using fat from the meat instead, every dish on the menu promises incredible depths of local flavor.
If you are visiting the ancient and incredible city of Peshawar then this is one restaurant you absolutely have to visit.
Scroll down now to read all the details.
Nisar Khan Charsi Tikka
In the Namak Mandi Market area of Peshawar, street life is vibrant, exciting, and of course incredibly delicious.
Just being on these streets should and will make you hungry, and there are few better places to go than Nisar Khan Charsi Tikka Shish Mahel for an ultimate meat experience.
The name is a little long, but thats ok, because most will know it as simply “Charsi Tikka.”
Although Tikka is a common food throughout Pakistan and India (‘Tikka’ just means ‘small pieces of meat’), there are few restaurants that do it better than Nisar Khan.
Note: “Charsi,” by the way, refers to ‘someone who smokes,’ and I guess in this case I approve of smoking skills, from cigarettes or other things, when they’re focused instead into skilled preparation of meat.
Watch the full video:
(Here’s the link to the full video on YouTube)
Charsi Tikka specializes in lamb
The menu is not extensive, you can order a karahi – in this case lamb simmered in its own fat and cooked into a curry in a rounded metal pan, tikka – grilled meat, or sajji chicken – the giant chicken formation at the front of the restaurant.
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You should order one of each to get the full experience at Charsi Tikka.
When you walk up to Nisar Khan Charsi Tikka you’ll see a number of lambs hanging at the front, their very own butchery. You actually choose your own cut of meat for the dishes you want to order, and they chop it right then and there, so you know it’s ultra fresh.
Along with grilled lamb chops, their prize-winning item is dumba karahi, lamb karahi, which is a must-order.
In Pakistan, Peshawar ranks as one of the top meat eating cities, right up with Gujranwala, Lahore, and Karachi.
Since nothing is pre-cooked, it takes at least an hour for your meat to be cooked.
The good new is, just a 3 minute walk down the road is Kaptaan Chappal, where you can shop for local Peshawari sandals, known as chappals, while you wait. I was very excited to get some new local footwear.
Kaptaan Chappal is not an ordinary chappal sandal store, it’s the exact shop where the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Imran Khan, buys his from – and he’s known to wear them daily. You’ll find chappals all over Peshawar, but Kaptaan Chappal makes a special chappal with extra thick soles, requested by Mr. Imran Khan himself.
I was not going to pass up the opportunity to buy a pair when I was in Peshawar. Prices range from 2500-4500PKR (US$20-35) a pair.
We walked back to Nisar Khan Charsi Tikka, floating on my new chappals, and just in time to eat.
The first thing you have to try are the Lamp Chops.
Just like most of the foods served here, the skill in cooking here lies in the finely balanced amounts of the most basic seasoning and ingredients. The experience and passion of the chefs here is obvious in every dish they serve.
Aside from salt and pepper, very few of the dishes have anything added. The taste that sets Charsi Tikka apart from other restaurants is in the precise cooking, grill temperature, and their quality of raw ingredients.
Perfectly tender bites of lamb, each chop flavored first by its own fattiness, and then of course smokiness from the grill, and finally a gentle feeling of saltiness throughout each chop.
Served with hot roti and a simple side of fresh-cut vegetables, this was one of the better, most pure bites of roast lamb I can ever remember eating.
The name of the restaurant includes the word Tikka, but its actually this dish, called Dumba Karahi, for which this restaurant is famous.
Dumba is eaten all throughout Central Asia, and the word simply refers to any dish that uses fatty lamb. In this KPK region of Pakistan though, Dumba is a name for the sheep that grows with a specifically large buttock and tail area.
They raise animals like this for the purpose of eating, and not for their milk. Each animal is fed in a certain way, and therefore the fat content can be truly incredible.
No oil is used in this recipe, the fat comes entirely from the tail and butt as it cooks. Only tomatoes and salt are used for seasoning, so the dish requires the utmost skill on the part of the chef to perfect it.
The flavor in Nisar Khan’s Dumba karahi is incredible, such simple ingredients cooked with masterful style, every bite was joyously rich. You should not leave Peshawar without at least one Dumba Karahi.
This food is called Chicken Sajji, and this cooking style comes from the Balochistan region of Pakistan, just South of KPK (where Peshawar is).
It is made by smothering the raw meat in spices, and then sometimes it is made also with rice and herbs stuffed inside. The animal is skewered, and then roasted or baked. The one thing that all Sajji have in common though, is that they are made using the entire animal.
Both a photo-friendly food, and pleasing to the stomach as well of course.
Nisar Khan’s chicken is grilled to perfection, and I really liked how they keep the chicken from getting too dry. They use a technique of washing and soaking the chicken in a simple water broth before grilling, and this makes sure the chicken meat doesn’t dry out over the intense charcoal heat.
Note: We enjoyed chicken here, but as this restaurant specializes in lamb, I recommend having Chicken Sajji at another specialty restaurant like the one we visited to make this video in Lahore.
Just entering this restaurant is an experience, walking past all of the chefs as they chop, slice, and prepare the meat. All of it is totally open and on display, either hanging from racks, or on the chopping block.
From the lofty and elevated Chicken Sajji spears in front, and witnessing entire goat carcasses hanging from the roof of the entry room. You can see every piece of meat, and the high quality of that meat as well, from the very first steps of preparation.
Visit Peshawar, and don’t miss Nisar Khan Charsi Tikka Shish Mahel, in the Namak Mandi Market area.
Address: In Namak Mandi Market, in Peshawar (Google Maps)
Hours: 11am to 11pm
Price: Our entire meal was 2600PKR (US$20)