Foods to Try in Pakistan at least Once

Blessed with abundant natural and historical riches, many travel writers and local guides have spent lifetimes discussing the best ways to take in Pakistan. We could spend hours talking of the glorious mosques, inspiring palaces and storied streets, but instead, we’d like to talk about the food.



From the street vendors selling freshly grilled sajji to the family restaurants serving up centuries-old recipes for mutton karahi, Pakistan is full of surprising flavour like a multi-layered biryani. Thanks to the historic spice trade along the Silk Road, Pakistan has had centuries to perfect its cuisine using a whole arsenal of spices and produce, ranging from the humble potato to the finest saffron.


Pakistan is famous for its sumptuously spicy, vibrant and often indulgent cuisine, and where better to experience this than the capital itself, Islamabad? As the capital city, Islamabad is less grounded in regional specialities but presents a coming-together of flavours and cuisines from all over Pakistan.


Now we’re not suggesting you hop on a plane for lunch, but with the wide range of affordable PIA flights from Manchester to Islamabad today, Pakistan is fast becoming a hotspot for foodies.



Start your day like a local with a hearty helping of Halwa Puri and milky dud pathi, savouring the crispy puri (we like ours with a helping of chickpea curry and chutney) and rich dud pathi. This dish is a common offering across Pakistan and for good reason: the filling puri is a good foundation for a day of activity and the strong, rich dud pathi will perk you up.


After a big breakfast, you’re ready to take in the sights and sounds of Islamabad, such as a stroll around the impressive Shah Faisal Mosque or a hike in the Margalla Hills for the adventurous. If you find yourself in need of refreshment from the sun or the climb, then you absolutely must try a lassi!


Available in salty, sweet and fruit flavoured varieties from countless vendors in Islamabad, the lassi is a welcome treat and refreshing drink at any time of the day or night. Recipes are as diverse as they are delicious, and you’re in for a rich treat if you find a vendor using butter or ghee, while the lightest versions can be as simple as fresh yoghurt, sugar and ice water.



If you find the period between breakfast and lunch dragging on longer than the Karakoram highway, seek out some street food for a nourishing snack. Far from the hipster farmers markets and dodgy food trucks of Manchester, Pakistan has a long tradition of street food and you can find everything from fresh fruit and light snacks to killer kebabs and rich stews.


A light bite of chaat is always enjoyable and infinitely variable, as vendors start with a chickpea, potato or bread base, top with all manner of sauces, chutneys and finish with a crunchy garnish. The quintessential street food, chaat can be eaten on the go and you’re encouraged to use your fingers, so get stuck in!


Hopefully you haven’t filled up yet, because now there’s the mid-day meal to contend with! While conventional wisdom states that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and dinner is generally the most social, lunch in Pakistan can be a truly unforgettable affair. Whether you choose to escape the mid-day sun in a cavernous dining hall or grab a bite on the go, keep these recommendations in mind.



For a surprising treat, try the Majeed Huts, a canteen-style restaurant situated in the Quaid-i-Azam University campus. Their signature dish is the ‘crisis’ omelette (a delicious hodgepodge of curries, beans and egg) and they offer a wide variety of other dishes, all with generous portions and prices, provided you can beat the lunch-time rush.


But if you’re out and about you can always try some of the famous Pakistani street food, such as a Bun Kebab (an indulgent Karachi take on Western beef burgers) or a kebab from the many street-side grills. Regional specialties such as the Chapli (or Peshawari) Kebab are treats to keep an eye out for, but you should be able to find something local to delight your taste-buds, especially if you wander around the shopping districts.



After a filling lunch, you’re probably thinking about another activity (or maybe a nap) so why not add a sweet treat to your itinerary? After all, you left those diet plans back at home, so you’re free to enjoy a creamy kulfi, a super-sweet jalebi or a frosty falooda.



But try not to fill up on snacks, for the best meal is yet to come. As delicious as breakfast and lunch were, many restaurants save the best for last, and you can find a wide variety of show-stopping dishes for dinner. Across the length and breadth of Pakistan you can find a wide variety of recipes that use complex spice combinations and slow cooking to create truly delicious dishes.



Unlike the UK where mutton is practically unheard of, Pakistan has fully embraced the rich flavours of this mature meat. Much like lamb, this is a meat which rewards slower cooking methods, which is why it is such a common ingredient in the famous Pakistani dish, Karahi.

Cooked for hours at a time in a wide, shallow pan known as a ‘karahi’ these aromatic dishes are made with plenty of dry spices, ghee (or animal fat) and fresh ginger for a show-stopping curry. While we could spend hours debating who makes the best karahi in Islamabad, the Monal Restaurant which sits on top the Potohar offers delicious food with jaw-dropping views over Islamabad.



When you’ve finished your meal (don’t be ashamed to mop up remaining sauce with a naan or chapati) and taken in the views, you’ll probably be ready to call it a day. But if you’re looking for another authentic Pakistani treat, keep an eye out for a shisha café on your way back to your accommodation – you won’t regret it.

Hopefully, this little guide has opened your mind (and mouth) to the many culinary treats of Pakistan. With all this delicious food just waiting to be tasted, you must be looking up PIA flights to Islamabad already!


We offer a variety of flights and package holidays to Pakistan, so why not browse our website for the latest offers and treat yourself to an epicurean adventure like no other today?