Saman was warm and friendly, and fascinating and surprisingly funny! I loved hearing her tell stories about her life and travels as she prepared dishes like dum qeema, soya aloo, dal, and raita. Her expertise in the kitchen, and the hospitality of everyone involved, was incredible.
Best of all, the cozy decor invites you to lie down and relax after your meal. Don’t be surprised if you fall asleep—it’s really comfortable! To top it all off, the restaurant owner gave me a gift as I was leaving!
As you scan their display cases, you’ll see everything from laddu to rasgulla to gulab jamun to kaju farfi. My friend Sulmeen and I decided to get a mix, starting with khopra mithai, a dense and crumbly sweet that’s extremely rich in coconut!
Elsewhere, you can try a syrupy fried dough called jalebi, fried biscuits, samosas, aloo fritters, and chai. One of my favorite stops was Abbasi Dry Fruit, a stand that sells nuts, seeds, honey, and dried fruit.
Explore Aabpara Market
Just a two-minute drive from Aabpara Market is another street food haven called Melody Food Street. This road is lined with tons of restaurants and street food vendors, and comes alive at night!
Between its remarkable food, incredible people, and unique sites, Islamabad is the type of city any traveler will treasure. The 48 hours I spent there were a whirlwind and I found myself wishing I’d had more time to dive further into the local culture. It’s one of my favorite cities in Pakistan, and the memories I made there are things I will never forget. Book a trip today to experience the top 10 things to see and do in Islamabad, Pakistan soon!
This vendor serves the puris filled with potatoes, chutney, and dahi (yogurt), and gives you a bowl of pani on the side. You get to dip them into the pani yourself, which keeps them extra crispy!
Visit the Pakistan Monument
The smooth aloo, or potatoes, also pair well with the airy puri. Add some pickles for a spicy and acidic punch! And, as is customary, wash it all down with a piping hot cup of chai. It’s one of the best ways to start your day and one of my favorite things to do in Islamabad, Pakistan!
The paan is a street food snack that also acts as a stimulant and a digestive. It consists of a mix of seeds, nuts, dried fruits, and other ingredients, rolled up in a betel leaf. The vendor shoves the whole think in your mouth and tosses rose petals over you afterward!
I’m not a huge sweets guy, but their walnut and almond nuggets with brown sugar and cardamom were outstanding!
M2V7+Q95, F-10 Markaz F 10/4 F-10
Faisal Masjid Islamabad
For this one-of-a-kind experience, Sulmeen took me to a secret location in Islamabad, which happened to be the home of a famous Pakistani chef. There, I met Saman’s best friend, Ayesha, and the legendary actress herself!
Today, Islamabad is a middle- and upper middle-class city. It has the highest cost of living in the country and is known for the nearly two dozen universities within its boundaries.
Check out the Top Things to Do in Peshawar, Pakistan
Enjoy a Home-Cooked Pakistani Dinner with Saman Ansari
I also enjoyed the kaju farfi, which contained cashews and had edible silver foil on the outside. One of my favorites is the gulab jamun, which are condensed, doughy milk balls drowned in sugar syrup. The hot sugar syrup and decadent milk ball was a sugar overload in the best way possible! Trying one is among the top things to do in Islamabad, so jump on it!
This pani puri was one of the more unique variations I’ve had on the street. The puri is quite large, so you you have to take a pretty huge bite to eat it in one go. It was also sweet, as it contained some delicious and tangy tamarind chutney, which I liked a lot!
In the beautiful Margalla Hills just north of Islamabad is a hill and viewpoint called Daman-e-Koh Park. The site, whose name is a combination of two Persian words that together translate to “foothills,” is a favorite among locals.
Everything she made was exceptional, especially the dum qeema. The meat, ghee, onions, garlic, and yogurt were incredible, and the addition of red chilies, cumin, and coriander made it even more savory with a small amount of spice! I also couldn’t get over the dill and potatoes in the soya aloo!
As with all mosques, you must remove your shoes before you enter the building. I also suggest browsing the book shop, which is full of books about Islam. And if you’re hungry, there are vendors outside selling dried chickpeas!
BONUS: Try Pakistani Sweets
It felt amazing that they were so excited to share their food and culture with me! Their friendliness alone makes visiting the market one of the best things to do in Islamabad, Pakistan.
One of my favorites is the dahi bhalle. This creamy and crunchy snack consists of a broken-down samosa that’s topped with tomatoes, potatoes, chana, cucumber, onions, a potato fritter, rose jelly, and yogurt. It also has a bit of spice to it!
Behind the monument are flags and a viewpoint where you can enjoy stunning vistas of the city. Mountains rise up in the distance behind it, and you can even spot a number of landmarks, including Faisal Mosque. I also suggest checking out the nearby Pakistan Monument Museum and Souvenir and Tuck Shop if you have time.
In the bustling F10 sector near the heart of Islamabad is Aabpara Market. This busy commercial zone is a one-stop shop for everything from clothing to live chickens to household goods to street food. It dates back to 1960, making it the city’s oldest market.
Vendors there also sell pani puri. Usually, when you have pani puri, the puris are fairly small. That way, the vendors can sell you more of them. They also come in many varieties—some are minty, while others can be spicy, sweet, or just savory.
The gurdwara stands next to Rama Mandir, a gorgeous 16th-century Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple contains a beautiful courtyard and boasts amazing arches and artwork. It’s amazing to see both houses of worship stand side by side! Seeing them is one of the best things to do in Islamabad, Pakistan!
Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory
Daman -e- Koh Rd, E-7