Pakoras from Illyasi Mosque Abottabad

By Azim Durrani

Growing up in a small town like Abbottabad, no rainy day would ever be complete without eating some pakoras. Summer,rain and pakoras go hand in hand. It’s the summer season that makes me happy as it never fails to refresh my childhood memories.

If you grew up in Pakistan or North India you obviously know what a pakora is, it is the quintessential desi snack found in every street corner, whether its summer or winter.

The Ilyasi Masjid is famous for having some of the best pakoras in Pakistan. The proximity of the Ilyasi Masjid is very convenient for travelers as  it is on the road that leads to Nathia Gali. Travelers make a pit stop here before continuing towards their journey uphill.

On a fine summer morning,I wanted to fuel my curiosity on the background of the famous pakoras at Illaysi Masjid.

One thing readers should know is that Ilyasi Mosque is famous in the past for having a pool with crystal clear water that came from all the way down from a water spring that was located on a hill right it. Up until 18 years ago people would rush to the pool at the mosque in the summers.

The Ilyasi Masjid doesn’t actually sell Pakoras inside. Its basically a small marketplace located beside the Mosque  sell pakoras.  I went to interview one of the shop owners there,he was an Aged fellow named  Khalid.

I asked him a couple of questions regarding his business:

AD (Azim Durrani): How long have you been working here?
Khalid: 30 Years, this was my father’s business before i took over.

He goes on to show me a faded picture of the same shop from 20 years ago.

AD:  Which time of the year do you have more customers ?
Khalid: Summer season. People make sure they stop and buy some pakoras with the imlee before they continue on their journey to Thandiani.

AD: Where do most of the tourists belong to ?
Khalid: We used to get a huge number of people from the Punjab side but that was until four years ago. Now the whole city is just flooded with Pathans from Waziristan and Swat. Soon they’ll be outnumbering the people of Hazara.

AD: Have you been facing any difficulties lately?
Khalid: Yes, we have huge gas shortages so we had to start relying more on gas cylinders. Because of that our prices slightly went up.

AD: Can you tell me what makes your pakoras so special?
Khalid: It’s the Basin we use when we’re making it. Also there is rich heritage that goes with the pakoras as well.

He would’ve answered more questions but time is money  and Khalid seriously had his hands full with pakoras and customers.