On the way to Neelum Valley, one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, we stopped at a place called Patikka, crossed the Neelum River over a wooden bridge and reached the other bank of the river, the flowing water and the breath-taking views of the green mountains were amazing. Giving you the insight about this journey; it started in mid-April as an educational field trip, the fun times of university life.
Before coming to Patikka, we stayed at Kaghan Valley for three days and I was tired of eating all the chicken and other snacks for most of my lunches. All I needed now was something great to eat. Thanks to one of our faculty members who ordered “something special” on our way to Keran, Neelum Valley from the capital of AJK, Muzaffarabad. My curious self was already in search of something desi. Heard someone saying that the famous cuisine here is “Saag” (spinach), yes Saag! Not just one but of 7 different types with Karri Pakora, Makki ki Roti and Lassi.
When I visited the place back in 2012, it was under construction, but now there is an up and running place named Marco Polo Restaurant. On the verge of Neelum River, the restaurant gives you the beautiful views of the valley and the pleasure of the breezy atmosphere. We took some snaps of us while waiting for the food. We were in a group, so the one organizing the tour told the management to set up a buffet for us. The salad was up with the Lassi (buttermilk) and Chutney.
The Makki ka Paratha (cornflour flatbread) was great and I tried it for the first time ever. There comes the saag. Not one but a variety of many Saags. Palak ka Saag, Methi Ka Saag and Sarsoon ka saag are just a few to name. There were different local varieties I can’t even remember now. But the experience I had when I took the first bite of it with Makki ki roti was so yummylicious. And then the Karri Pakora and the Raita and Chutney were the perks we enjoyed of having a buffet. The photos might not justify what we enjoyed at that moment, but it was a great experience with all the desi things on the table in front of us.
We dove right into the food and there was no coming back. The taste of Lassi, especially in the hot summers when the sun is giving you fuming looks. The relished taste of the, not so heavy and no so light, drink will leave you with a soothing sensation.
You must take a break if you are on the way to Neelum Valley. Make a stop at Patikka and enjoy the desi cuisine the place is offering with the beautiful view. Neelum Valley has a lot to offer whether it’s the magnificent landscape or just the simplicity of the people.