Sunday, 21 August 2016

Pakistan Travel Stories (Part 1)





I did a trip to Pakistan in July 2016. Though, Pakistan is my home but this was a very touristy trip as I had gone back after a long a time. I did my light emotional outburst here! (in case you missed it).

I visited three different cities; Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. But I spent most of my time in the world's second most beautiful capital, Islamabad. 

Islamabad was always known as a boring and slow city with people going to bed early and nothing much to shout about but greenery, clean roads and government buildings. Compared to Karachi, the city of lights, Islamabad had less to offer. But, now Islamabad has become a really happening city with tons of things to offer for sightseeing, food and shopping. I had the pleasure of trying some really great eateries and different cuisines including Chinese, Thai, Arabic and Italian! The best thing about Pakistan is that most restaurants offer continental dishes and not just local food. I have listed in this post some of my recommended places (in no particular order).

Dine In Restaurants 
Chaaye Khana:

Which means (a place for tea) is in F6 Markaz Islamabad. It is a beautifully done place, crowded most of the time and you always need to wait before you get a place. I went there for brunch and we ordered different types of parathas, omelettes, tea and their famous French Toasts. The parathas were crispy, light and thankfully no oil was dripping from them. Potato stuffed paratha (Aloo Ka Paratha) was the winner. French Toasts also lived up to the expectations! I loved the ambience and decoration. It is cozy place to hang out. 

Click here for the website 



The Monal Restaurant:

Monal is 9km from Islamabad in an area called Pir Sohawa. The winding road takes you up to this small rest stop with quite a few choices of eateries. The road to Monal has breathtaking views of lush green mountains and the Islamabad city. It is so beautiful that you would want to stop after every kilometer to take photographs. From all the restaurants there, we decided to go to The Monal Restaurant. The place was packed with people even on a weekday but the view and the food was worth coming for. The menu has continental, fast food, oriental and of course Pakistani local food. Going to Monal is a memorable experience in itself. If you have time, you should plan your trip in such a way that you see the scenic beauty both in day and night as the views are not to be missed.

Click here for the website.

Monal at Evening Photograph Courtesy Monal's Facebook Page.
Photograph Courtesy Monal's Facebook Page

View of Islamabad from The Monal Restaurant

Des Pardes, Saidpur Village:

Saidpur village is a remodeled village especially made to showcase the heritage of Pakistani rural life. The village itself is a must visit for anyone who wants to peek into Pakistani culture. Surrounded by Maragalla hills, Saidpur offers splendid views from the top, a preserved Hindu temple, Gurdwara, Sufi tomb for sightseeing. Plus you will find plenty of restaurants to choose from. Truck art backdrops, fairy lights, hawkers selling balloons and toys for kids make this place festive and vibrant. Live, soothing folk music adds the final touch. We had dinner at Des Pardes which offers continental and Pakistani food. From a steak to halwa poori; anything can be ordered through out the day. The whole experience coupled with amazing food is memorable. 

See more information on the website here.

Saidpur Village

Truck Art and Lights giving it a festive look.

Entrance of Des Pardes.


Halwa Poori, A breakfast dish but can be enjoyed anytime.
Café 1969:

In the heart of Shakarparian, Islamabad, Cafe1969 is an old Hawali of Rajjgans converted into a beautiful restaurant; decorated using motifs and historical references from the golden era of Pakistan – the 60s. Huge lush green lawns with flowers and fountains, the cafe offers everything from BBQ to french fries, from chicken karahi to club sandwiches, from lentils to fritters – The menu has something for everyone. Even paan for the paan lovers (paan is a mouth freshener made with betel leaf and areca nut and other tidbits like coconut and flavored fennel seeds - something very famous in some parts of Pakistan)




Tidbits that form a Paan


Coffee Republic:

I was invited by another foodie for a dinner at Coffee Republic in F6 Markaz Islamabad. I knew the food would be great and it was! The place is set up like a very modern and chic coffee house. Clean and neat with plenty of options on the menu. My most favourite was this chicken and spinach panini and cashew nut chicken. There are many options for people with a sweet(est) tooth like me including a complete Nutella Menu .... :D

Check out their Facebook Page here.




Pappasallis: 

Pappasallis has been in Islamabad for as long as I remember. When I used to live in Islamabad long time ago, Pappasallis was one of the most in places to go and probably one of the few options we had back then. Normally, such food places are unable to maintain their standards when other new options become available but I was very surprised to have this scrumptious and delicious lunch at Pappasallis. Great taste, nice ambience and good service :). Pappasallis still is a must visit eatery in Islamabad.

The Facebook page is here

Corden Bleu Chicken
New York Cheese Cake.
Takeaways 
(You can also dine in but we had takeaways) 

Cheema & Chattha

Located in F11 Markaz, the place offers authentic desi food. We had Nihari and Biryani that we packed and brought home to eat. Nihari and Biryani both are famous dishes from Karachi (south of Pakistan) and it is not easy to find them in Islamabad. But, Cheema Chattha solves this problem! They have a dinning area so you have choice to dine in or takeaway. On Eid, we had ordered Biryani for a party of 50 people which was also very delicious. 

Their Facebook Page is here.

Sufi:

If you are true foodie, you must try Chapli Kebabs. Originating from the north of Pakistan, Chapli kebabs are made with minced beef or lamb meat marinated in a mix of green chili, pomegranate seeds, coriander, mint, tomatoes and some spices! And no one does Chapli Kebabs better than Sufi. Like Papasalis, Sufi has been in Islamabad for a long time. My husband had tried it some 10 years ago and he wanted us all to try it. Using his memory as a guide, we all set off to find the place. Hidden in the narrow streets near Peshawar Mor, Sufi is as grand as it used to be! We packed their famous kebabs and chicken karhai to have at home.

Both of them were finger licking good!


Chapli Kebabs

......... Chai 

Chai Chowk:

Chai Latte with Cardamom
If you follow my blog or my Facebook page (Here) you would know what a big chai buff I am. So, finding a good place for chai was absolutely necessary. In F11 Markaz, we found this small, cozy and friendly place for having the best chai there is. Trust me, it is the best in Islamabad. We went there every night for a cup of tea during our stay. They serve plenty of flavours like, masala chai, cardamom chai, zafrani chai, Kashmiri chai and a list of green and flavored teas. You can also order sandwiches and brownies and other snacks to go with chai. On weekends they have jamming sessions to promote young musicians.

You can also play board games there and spend some good time with friends and family.

Facebook Page here.
 

Stay tuned for my sightseeing and shopping adventures!

This is just the beginning ;) 


15 comments:

  1. Gorgeous pictures! You made me hungry. :)

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  2. Someday, i will visit Pakistan and experience its culture, celebrate its feasts, and eat its delicacies. Would also want to see, smell and hear its city and villages.

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  3. The food in pakistan looks good.. Travelling to Pakistan is nice..

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  4. Monal Restaurant, alone, is worth the journey! It's such a beautiful place with a breathtaking view, especially at night. I find it very romantic! I would love to go there someday.

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  5. Everything about this place is beautiful. I love that you can immerse yourself in Pakistan's culture the minute you arrive. It is well preserved and that's what makes Pakistan beautiful!

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  6. I would love the view of the monal restaurant. It's really scenic and really refreshing.

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  7. Asian countries have choicest of culinary choices!! Halwa Puri looks so yummy and night view of Monal is awesome.

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  8. I have never been into this country but I have read some beautiful things about it. Thanks for sharing this wonderful restaurant

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  9. I am pure Karachite but this post makes me want to move to Islamabad. Check out the food and views! breathtaking!

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  10. I don't know how delicious the food is but your post is so tempting that I am drooling. I think I need to reschedule my weekend plans and add these places.

    Chai Chowk is a new place for me. Sounds really good!

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  11. OMG!!! Way too yummy... Those parathas & paan titbits are just making me drool...

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  12. Maybe I think too much, but I realised that you take overview photos from a certain angle and standardise them. This is something that I couldn't achieve!

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  13. I do not think I will ever get to visit Islamabad, so thank you for this introduction. I do hope they could bring Pakistani food to our city though, I am not aware of a Pakistani restaurant here.

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  14. That is one Huge cooking plate. Food looks yummy though and very authentic

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  15. Totally yummy and lovely captured. I feel like eating Paan now and you haven't mentioned nihari.

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