It’s been written about ad nauseum. Throw a stone, and you’re liable to hit a foodie in whom it inspires a religious zeal the Imam at the Jama Masjid next door would envy. If you hear my friend Nishant talk about it, you’d think he’d been to the Rapture – and got an autograph.

Like a tutu-clad elephant in the room, Karim’s has hitherto been respectfully ignored by this blog. But what better time to make amends than just after having held a record-breaking EOiD gathering there?

As a matter of fact, EOiD’s very first “field trip”, all the way back in October 2006, had been to Karim’s for breakfast. I have fond memories of that trip, not least because that was the day I met several of the people I’ve spent such good times with over the last two years.

But that trip was also memorable for the food we ate: Karim’s mutton nihari and paaya (trotters) are probably some of the best in town. I prefer the buff nihari at Haji Noora’s any day, but for those who’d rather not partake of any meat remotely bovine, Karim’s is the obvious recommendation for an early morning warmer-upper. And nihari, as indeed virtually any gravy dish, is best accompanied by fluffy khameeri rotis (the yeast-powered version of the tandoori roti) and sheermal, both of which Karim’s excels at. The sheermal in particular is remarkable for an understated sweetness that puts it in a different class altogether from the version served at more pedestrian places.

On previous occasions, I have tried several other dishes at Karim’s and enjoyed them thoroughly. A comprehensive list is hard to put down, but the tandoori burra, the Shahjahani murgh, the Badshahi Badam Pasanda, the Nargisi kofta, and the seekh kababs certainly come to mind.

So when Aniket, one of the founder members of EOiD announced he’s moving out of Delhi, I thought it would only be fitting if we saw him off with another excursion to Karim’s. Only this time, we wanted to go for the big one.

Carelessly flung in the middle of Karim’s menu, the Tandoori Bakra arrests your eye with its price. Rs. 4500 reads the entry, or roughly ten times the price of any other dish on the list. We’d only heard whispered legends of the Bakra: a full goat, roasted to perfection in an underground oven, and stuffed with biryani, chicken, eggs, almonds and pistachios, the Tandoori Bakra is a feast that feeds up to 15 people. Invitations sent to our mailing list elicited an unprecedented response, as people spread the word amongst their friends and signed up in droves. With 34 confirmed attendees, we went over to Karim’s a couple days early and booked not one but two full bakras.

Foodies are generally an amiable, laid-back lot, and our excursions typically begin with an obligatory wait for stragglers ambling in 15 to 30 minutes late. It is no small testament to Karim’s reputation that last Sunday saw a full quota of 34 hungry souls milling outside their gates, at the exact appointed hour of 8pm. It took another 20 minutes to get us seated, and another 10 for the waiters to make their entrance bearing large platters of meat.

What followed was a spectacle straight out of a Fred Flintstone fantasy — men tearing and pulling and carving the flesh onto enthusiastically proffered plates, while the more reticent stood at a distance on the pretext of taking photographs.

That sadly, ends the complimentary part of this review. None — not one — of us found a good word to say about the vaunted Bakra. Where we’d expected meat that would melt in our mouths, we found a tough, chewy and stringy old goat. Where we’d expected delicately marinated spices, we noticed red pepper carelessly sprinkled. Where we’d expected juicy morsels to sink our teeth into, we found dry portions that no green chutney nor delicious gravy could relieve. Where we expected the Bakra of our lives, we wanted to Raan for our lives.

But it is not just the Tandoori Bakra that would leave Haji Karimuddin worried about his legacy. There are several aspects in which the establishment is doing scant justice to its name.

First, demand prediction and service under pressure. Weekends are busy days at Karim’s, and stories of exceedingly poor service are rife. We were promised a full hall booked exclusively for our group, but we arrived to find not a single reserved table. It took almost half an hour before the promised hall was fully emptied of its diners, a period during which our group were forced to hang about outside, only adding to the chaos and commotion in the establishment. And after the order was taken, the waiters returned to say that they had run out of one dish (the Karim’s Vegetable), and that there was all of one sheermal left. This at the prime dinner time of 8:30pm.

Second, the meagre vegetarian menu. It would be quite acceptable to me if Karim’s chose not to serve any vegetarian food whatsoever. But if for whatever reason it feels compelled to cater to herbivores, it has no business dishing out the kind of vapid slop that it calls Makhani Daal. And the less said about the anaemic Paneer Tikkas, the better.

Third, quality control. Karim’s has opened up about a dozen branches all over the city. They acknowledge only one on their website — Dastarkhwan-e-Karim at Nizamuddin, but a phonecall confirms that the little establishments in areas like Chittaranjan Park, Zakir Nagar, Patparganj, etc are also all owned by them. However, there seems to be no effort at maintaining any quality standards across these locations. The Nizamuddin branch is probably the best alternative, but there the spices are milder and the taste distinctly watered down, perhaps in an attempt to cater to the expat population in the neighbourhood. The Zakir Nagar branch, just behind New Friends Colony, is such a disaster that on a night when I arrived there at 10:30pm without having eaten even lunch, I was forced to leave most of the food I had ordered.

It’d be a crying shame if Karim’s ends up leaving us only nostalgia as a reason to revisit it in the future!

Location: Gali Kababian, near Jama Masjid Gate No. 1. Ph. +91-11-23269880, 23264981. Map Location.

Price: Our dinner ended up working out to about Rs. 400 per head. In smaller groups you should expect to spend a bit more.

Photos of the breakfast trip to Karim’s in October 2006 by Harneet Bhatia. Photos of the Tandoori Bakra trip on 16 November 2008 by Sachin Kalbag. A short piece by Sachin on the same outing was published in the Mail Today on Sunday, November 23, 2008.

77 Replies to “Karim’s”

  1. Thanks for your inputs. As I am a Lakhnavi myself, having being born and stayed there for 21 formative years, I do sometimes yearn for Lakhnavi food, now that I am out of Lucknow for so many years. As a Central Govt. employee, I have had the good fortune of moving all over India and appreciate Mughlai foods of different flavors, be it Hyderabadi, Dilli, Kashniri, or even Kolkata (Rezala gravies, champs, haleem and other Matia Burz and Park Street delicacies). Coming to galaoutis, I have savored some at the UP stall at Dilli Haat, at the Food Court at Life Style Mall, Rajouri Garden, at a small stall adjacent to Shopper’s Stop, Rajouri Garden, etc. But there is no harm is trying on and on for better galaoutis, at Delhi. Being the eternal optimist, I consider Delhi as the food capital of India, and I am sure many unknown kiosks serve authentic stuff, but they remain unknown, because they are not covered by TV or print media hype. Lets hope that something really great hits my jaded palate sooner or later.

    I am aware of the one-armed Tunde mian of Lucknow. He started off with a small kiosk, more of a thela, way back in the 60s; and his stuff was just OK. But a combination of good luck, media hype and market forces soon made him a legend and he acquired cult status, with a lineage supposedly from the Newabi dastarkhwans. LOL. His family (and chain) expanded in Lucknow, quality suffered and I can vouch for a dozen small kiosks at Lucknow, which are way ahead of Tunda and his franchisees at Lucknow today (in quality, not hype) Of course, as you have so kindly informed me, I know nothing of cuisine, so I will not shoot off my mouth any further 🙂 Ciao and Tk Cre.

  2. Thalassa is right, Delhi was never really known for it’s galoutis. Personally, probably because I am a Delhite myself, I could never appreciate a galouti much: I always found the extra tenderness of a galouti came at the cost of reduced meatiness, due to added ingredients used to tenderize the meat. It might suit someone with weak teeth (which according to the legends was behind the origin of galoutis). Seekhs at Moinuddin’s or even Karim’s are as soft as it can get without the added interference of external tenderizers like raw mango, and I do not see the point of tenderizing it any further as long as you are still young/fortunate enough to have your teeth intact!!

    In Delhi, they do a fairly decent kakori at Salim’s in Khan Market (read about this in the Al Zahid piece by Hemanshu in this blog).

    Joey, it is good that you mentioned the Muslim/Mughlai cuisine of Calcutta. I am surprised why it has received so little attention than it deserves, and people hardly know about this unique cuisine outside Calcutta. With it’s characteristic dishes like rezala, chaamps, dhakai parottas etc. made typically from beef (though at places you have the mutton version) it is a cuisine distinct from the much better-known traditional Bengali cuisine of fish curries and fried veggies. I hope some enterprising chef brings this cuisine outside Bengal.

  3. Yeah.. Kolkata city cuisine has branched off into 4 distinct areas: (1) East Bengali cuisine, with spicy red curries and a profusion of green chillies (2) West Bengali cuisine – bland, sweetened with sugar (3) Tangra cuisine: Chinese – a mixture of authentic Chinese, Indianised Chinese, influences of Tibetan and NE snack foods and (4) Mughlai: famous for its Mughlai paranthas, rolls (Kathis for Delhites), rezalas (white, creamy meat curries – reminiscent of Afghani cusine served in Delhi), champs (desi steaks, in a fiery red curry base, biryanis (more of a pulao, sweetish, often garnished with kajus and raisins) and of course, haleems and niharis. The inspiration from the House of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah is obvious, although rezalas are unknown in Lucknow, the native place of the Newab!!

    Kolkata, and for that matter, all 4 metros of India, are foodie’s delights. But one must know the right place to savor the authentic goodies. Without the snob value, of course. And for that, the guidance of locals is a must. Guide books and restaurant reviews are a strict no-no.

  4. Yes, the mughlai Kolkata cuisine is strongly influenced by Lucknow, though in a much modified form. For those unfamiliar with the city and visiting it shortly, the rezala and champ at Aminia’s behind New Market or Sabir’s at Chandni Chowk comes strongly recommended. For more adventurous ones, it is worth visiting the Kidderpore area. Dominated by Bihari muslim community, this offers a very different kind of food. You have very small roadside joints offering simple and cheap working class meal of beef curry and rotis. Though less sophisticated than the mughlai food mentioned above, it is worth a try.
    For vegetarians, you also have joints offering authentic marwari food, especially in the areas dominated by marwaris like Brabourne road or Burrabazar.

  5. I dont about Delhi but there are many restaurants in Bangalore making a living out of Kolkata Mughlai food (couple of outelts of Lazeez, Nizam’s etc.). Since my knowledge of Kolkata Moghlai is restricted to a couple of visits to Shiraz and Aminia, I cant comment on how autehntic they are but Rizalas taste good and Biriyanis come with a boiled potato!

    Soumya – In Lucknow (and I guess in most places for Awadhi food), they use raw papaya rather than raw mango as a tenderizer. Not sure if raw mango will work (no papain), and anyway will make it too sour. I accept your point, though, on Galauti being too soft for some – some westerners who have tried it find it akin to a pate’ and hence the almost paste-like texture is no big deal for them. Being in a democracy, I respect all these views (:-)), but being from Awadh I still think Galautis are great and Shamis are not match for them!

    Thalassa – Rampur Kitchen guys have moved to Bangalore and now run a restaurant named ‘Taste of Rampur’ there with the same chef (two years since I last visited the city, but I hope it still exists)

  6. You are right about galaoutis. They are an acquired taste, and being not-so-common, that acquired taste is rare. Shamis have a base of chana dal, plus onions and khada masala, together with the keema, which are cooked, then blended to form kebabs, before frying. On the other hand, galaoutis can be considered ‘raw’ kebabs, as the meat mince is simply ground with papaya shreds, salt and chillies, and made to stand for about 2 hours. The mixture is finely ground, mixed with a bit of roasted besan and slow fried. That way, shamis are cooked twice and galaoutis are cooked once. Correspondingly, shamis are longer ‘shelf’ life than galaoutis. The raw papaya and the raw meat mince mixture of the galaoutis possess a certain peculiar flavor, which can either attract or distract the foodie. But it can’t be ignored. The semi-rawness of the galaoutis also ensure that ready-to-fry galaoutis are not available in the market, even in Lucknow. But ready-to-fry shamis are available almost everywhere, due to their longer shelf life.

  7. I’ve been going to Karim’s since past 8 years now on a regular basis. I would like to say that quality has really gone down. I feel it’s the most “over-rated” Mughlai resturant in Delhi. The food is spicy & extremely oily. In the last 2 years whenevr I have ordered Mutton Burra, it has been complte waste of my Money. First of all, there’s hardly any meat & secondly, whatever meat is there is chewy…..burra should be tender, cooked on slow flame( charcoal) till it gets tender & has that Bar-B-Q taste. Karim’s burra has neither! When we complained to the waiter that we are not been able to chew the meat & it’s totally under-cooked, he gave us a strange look & informed us that it’s exactly like it should be! He meant to say that burra should be “Rubbery” & difficult to chew!

    Curries are slightly better then the dry itmes but still not upto the mark. I would (unfortunately) not recommend mutton curries to anyone b/c of the same fact that the meat is not tender. In chicken curries, atleast it’s somewhat better. The brand Karim’s has become so big that they now can sell anything! Their main problem is that their dishes are under-cooked & since they have to cater to heavy rush on weekends , the quality of food is extremely bad on weekends ! So, all in all, if one has to visity Karim’s then kae sure you visit them on weekdays!

  8. Condescending waiters from high profile restaurants, whether its Moti Mahal and Karim’s of Delhi, or Tunde of Lucknow are a pain in the ass and deserve a box on their ears, before being thrown out of the restaurant, where they work. On second thoughts, it is also true that they become the way they are, due to years of serving not-so knowledgeable customers or touristy types, who go ga-ga over brand names. I felt like slapping the waiter who served me mutton, with the ligaments and odds & ends still attached to the mutton pieces, at Karim’s, and that too with a supercilious attitude. Waiters prefer NRI types and expats, who eat blindly and leave fat tips to ‘local’ customers, who are critical and may not be fooled so easily. While one cannot slap a waiter (or the owner) in such circumstances, what one can do is never to visit such places again.

  9. Hmmmm….if nothing else, am happy to see that an article on Karim’s still manages to get people animated enough to go on commenting for months and months! Is this the most commented article on this site?
    About my views…i think Karim’s is a victim of its own fame. As far as Delhi Mughlai food scene goes its status is like that of USA’s among nations. Always newsworthy, always a topic of discussion, sometimes positive and many times provoking negative criticism of most vociferous kind. (pls dont categorise me as some kind of Yank loving creature. Am not. Rather hate most of red necks. USA just felt like an apt analogy). Despite all the good and bad food it serves, it is still a yardstick against which Mughlai food in Delhi (if not India) is measured. Karims is an institution. And what amazes me that it has always been so for nearly 100 years now. I have constantly heard paeans about Karims across 3 generations starting with my Grandfather, father and now myself. I have lived in Old delhi as a kid for nearly 5 years, 7 to 12. During this time, I have seen many other nearby places come and go and lose whatever little reputation they garner in that short burst of enthusiasm. Such places include Mughal Darbar (on the left of Gali Kababiyan), Jawahar, New Jawahar and some other no name types. Even the new Jawahar which felt like a much needed alternate to Karims is fast losing its original flavor and quality.
    Talking about food in specific, There are a few items on the menu where I feel they excel. Some of these are Chicken Soup, Stew, Mutton Korma, Seekh Kababs, Keema, Magaz and Mutton Burra. Some items where they fail horribly, despite these being essential mughlai fare, are Biryani, shami kababs, Nahari and butter chicken (why the hell did they attempt making one!!). Only dish where I may give them some leeway is Nahari, cos I havent really had much mutton nahari anywhere else either. Though in comparison to the buffalo meet nahari available elsewhere in the area (like Haji Noor, Shabberati etc) Karims nahari feels just another variant of mutton Curry. BTW I didn’t see anyone commenting on karim’s brain curry here. Did you guys miss it? It is most amazing and quite frankly without any competition in Delhi. Punjabi style magaz, full of onion and tomato, is no comparison to the one at karims. Some people may have a reservation (read revulsion) against magaz, but those who enjoy it otherwise, should not miss it at Karims.
    While I say all this in defence of karim’s, their food is not the kind that makes me sing songs and calls me running to Old delhi every now and then. Am bored of karim’s food and badly want more alternates to emerge. Am sick of variation in food quality that I keep discovering every now and then. Their Korma is not the best most of the times. It is too thick, at times sweetened by excess of Onion and mutton is many times undercooked or overcooked. The best of Korma I have had, has typically been from Muslim homes which we sometimes manage to get during Bakrid or when we manage to sufficiently cajole a muslim acquaintance to get some cooked specially for us. Same goes for Biryani. Our search for that perfect Korma, which has thinner yet not watery and full of flavor gravy is still on. In that quest, I have gone the length and breadth of Matia Mahal, Nizammuddin, Jamia etc eating at all the places that look authentic and promising, be it restaurants or small roadside vendors that put up 2-3 degs in the evening. Sadly, I haven’t had any serious luck. Among all the places, Karims still manages to serve a reasonable affair most of times. It is hugely more consistent than others.
    On service – Just one point to bring the perspective. Do not consider karims as a restaurant. It is a ‘dining hall’ where the service expectations are to be kept to barely functional level. Their waiters do not have any formal training program to go through before starting to serve. All they get evaluated on are how efficiently and speedily they put the food in front of you and clear the table for the next waiting guest. As there is no formal karim’s standard of service, individual differences in waiters’ attitude are pretty evident and are not really considered bad in their community. I many times chose the table at which to sit depending on which waiter is serving there. Brush it off as a charming quirk of the place and dig your teeth into the burra before it gets cold…hehehe.
    That’s that from me in defence of karims. To sum up…the place is decent, not divine. Better than all other alternatives available. Wish they improve and become more capable of handling ever increasing hordes that are reaching the place crowding it beyond capacity of traditional methods that Karims family is used to deploy. I don’t think they are equipped to handle modern crowds who go there to eat mughlai food more for novelty value than the ‘functional food to a limited neighborhood community’ they originally set up to serve. Expansion through opening more branches has been a sad failure. They need change of mindset and more systems. With movies like Delhi 6 a reasonable hit, I expect more uninitiated, fashionable junta to throng the place.
    I remember going there walking as an 8 year old kid (am 36 now) to get a Tandoori chicken packed. This would be as frequent as every week. I would hand them a Rs. 20 note, with Chicken costing sub Rs 19 leaving one Rupee as a tip as insisted by my father, asking them “ek tandoori chicken pack…badhiya sa”. The guy would holler in a sing song tone from the counter to the tandoor person at the window on the first floor “Ek Tandoori chicken…parcel hai bhai…chhote sahib ka hai, badhiya sa banega bhai….” The guy looks down and waives a hand at me signaling recognition and thus assuring a good bird 🙂
    Now am part of a big faceless crowd with me waiting for the next vacant table and once on the table, the waiter waiting for me to finish quickly and move to accommodate the next waiting guest.

  10. Glassbead – fantastic comment! Your comment about personalized attention being replaced by being part of a faceless crowd is so apt. Such places are invariably victims of their own fame.

  11. Went to Karim’s on Tuesday last …. went there in the night and was super amazed seeing the amount of meat being sold all alongside Jama Masjid
    Shared a table with two Afghans and was prompt to order 1 roti, 1 half serving of Chicken Burra and 1 plate of mutton stew …. the chicken was fresh and well done … the roti was a revelation and the Mutton Stew was a taste i had never tasted before …. Had travelled all the way from Chanakyapuri (Sikkim House — been there to eat Momos) just to eat this….
    Worth it!!!
    Lastly, had Shahi Tukda some 20 metres further ahead on Karim’s on the street with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream… Lipsmackingly good stuff …. Try it out!!!

  12. Last week we ventured into the much hyped aljawahar restaurnat. Had heard stories of the tandoori raan(roast leg of goat/lamb),so ordered on along with almost the entire kabab menu,mutton seekh,chicken seekh,and shammi kabab. For almost rs 100 a plate each and compared with the recently consumed street kababs,,they were bland and less spicy.the mutton seekh was o.k.Raan came on a platter dressed with tomotoes…some parts were chewy and hard and some soft,the spice was not that great and almost bland .Since we had to pay rs 350 for it we gorged on every piece of flesh left on the bone and finished everything.Appearances are deceptive.Look and feel of the dish didn’t compare to the taste..one time experience…

    Purani Dilli in Zakir Nagar beats both Karim’s & Al-jawahar interms of quality,taste and price.Have consumed gravy dishes earlier in Karim’s & aljawahar but purani dilli is a winner..

  13. Re:goat & lamb:

    First goat: there are several breed differences, how they are raised, gender, age of slaughter, post-slaughter coolng and onset of rigor [here is where the Jama Masjid abbatoir vs. the Faridabad one, batch slaughter vs. line, coolng by air, no cooling, chilling, every post-slughter handling step has an effect on the “chewiness” of the carcass]. Also, do not forget that the expert Muslim butcher is a vanishing breed, and meat cutting lends much to meat quality.

    The Barbari, one of the three major goat breeds of the areas immediately is genetically quite distant from the Beetal & Jamnapari, the latter two “Nubian” type milch breeds with COARSE muscle fibers.

    The Barbari would be a lightly better choice, with castrates aged above 10 months but not more than 2, corresponding very roughly to the hoggett stage in sheep, but a bit older. Traditionally, there was the fattening process known as GRAM FED MUTTON where after weaning and a period of browsing, animals were finished off in stalls with a rich diet of chickpeas. Goats physiologically are unable to deposit much subcutaneous fat, in contrast to lambs; their major fat depots are abdominal. However, with the Boer goat genetics [that also include Jamnapari in their ancestry] appreciable amounts of subcutaneous fat are deposited and very high weights are achieved below 1 year of age.

    Therefore, a Barbari x Boer cross, or Boer x Black Bengal, has the potential of creating a higher quality meat animal where careful feeding, humane slaughter [which current hall method are absolutely not, brutally wrestling down an animal, twisting its head by force with its horns on the floor, nominall reciting some perunctory prayers, shoving water down a terrified gullet and cutting a throat with no knowledge of physiology or anatomy]. When people here speak of being hungry for buffalo, they should also insist on civilized norms of slaughter, not trollish hitting the animal on the head with a crude mallet, waiting for it to collapse etc.

    What is obvious is that today, demand being very high, any and all goat are being used for restaurants, not the carefuly raised & prepared prime animals. In the USA there is meat grading, Prime, Choice, Canner/cutter etc. reflecting to a SLIGHT degree the meat quality, age must also be stated. This sort of grading would compel restaurants to declare whether they were using prime or lower quality and lead to better animal husbandry [hopefully! Although being Indians, we can cheat, corrupt & destroy any good system devised on God’s green earth].

    With regard to sheep, we have in the Deccan more than 1 breed with good meat conformation. We have good browse and other forage that promote high meat quality, as opposed to blandness. We are the single nation on earth where rich, heavenly sheep milk goes a-begging for pennies, because until some Westerner tells us that it is fashionable to consume, we have not the sense to realize the value of our own produce. Our Ongole/Nellore cattle win top honors at the Clay Meat Research Center at the University of Nebraska for taste & tenderness, as do Red Sindhi hybrids in Australia. As someone who blanches in horror at beef eating, this is not what I personally like but still we have extraordinary beef breeds in India, that also are extraordiary milk breeds. Our cattle form the backbone
    of the tropical South American beef industry. WE just do not want to take care of our animals. Our goats sheep, buffaloes, even (yikes) cattle & veal could be stupendous value-added products, and yet we are borrowing South African goat genetics [created from our
    own germplasm to] “improve” our meat goats!! How
    absurd!! And daily putting up with worthless, unhygienic meat!! Saudi Arabia does not, with spotless modern plants, rigorous inspections, top quality meat animals, expert meat handling, but we must!!

  14. We found that
    prions bound to montmorillonite and whole soils remained orally
    infectious, and, in most cases, increased the oral transmission of
    disease compared to the unbound agent. The results presented in
    Johnson CJ, Pedersen JA, Chappell RJ, McKenzie D, Aike JM, 2007
    Oral Transmissibility of Prion Disease Is Enhanced by Binding to Soil Particles.

    PLoS Pathog 3(7): e93. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.0030093

    this study suggest that soil may contribute to environmental spread
    of TSEs by increasing the transmissibility of small amounts of
    infectious agent in the environment.

    Many here are interested in consuming the brains &.or sweetbreads popular in Muslim & Parsi cookery. Even workers in American pork slaughter houses working with animals certiiednot to be infected with any Trasmissible Spongoform Encephalopathies, but in physical contact with brains merely through hosing have become severely at risk for a number of conditions. These incidences ofmorbidity were tracked back to earlier times, when the children of French butchers in Marseilles exhibited abnormally high rates of childhood leukemia. I am a cell biologist, and we are gradually learning many more things as we continue to live longer and screen out the more obvious killers that would have masked these other lethal agents lurking in the background.

    For those who might choose to listen, I would urge you to eat meat as far away from the brain, throat & spinal cord as possible; i.e. draw a line passing across the lower mid-shoulder, and eat everything below. Better yet, stick to the 4 arms/shanks. Enough meat there, when there is already an alarm being raised about too much red meat and the genetics of the Indian male.

    As we in India begin to grow sald greens & coriander leaf/mints in periurban areas using sewage waters, the probabilities of lethal forms of common parasites & pathogens begin to mount. Short of using detergent- laced water to wash all fruit and vegetables, followed by a soak in 1:9 5% sodium hypochlorite solution [Clorox] or N-halamine, or other complicated short-burst microwave or electron-beam treatments, some of these things can become very very serious, entering the brain, or causing toxic shock. Once is enough! Various types of hepatitis, ccute or chronic leave the liver predisposed to later and more dangerous damage.

    Since all the friends here are fond of enjoying food outside, there are some sensible precautions to take:e.g. not eat salads in the Afghan restaurant or even in 5 star restaurants Be wary of dhaniya leaf garnishes unless they are in boilng hot gravies: this is a major contaminating source, as it is grown right
    outside Delhi for freshness & high value [most unfortunately using the outfall water from sewage treatment/mistreatment]. This precaution holds true in your own home as well.

    Please eat food that needs to be handled as least as possible by vendors. Please be aare that most Indians uffer from chronic low-intensity intestinal disorders that can be clinically demonstrated. There is a factor in microbial population ecology called quorum sensing that continuously modulates the virulence factors of different groups of organisms from day to day so that the same vendor will have different degrees of infectivity on different occasions and your resistances too will be variable. We see people with beringed fingers dispensing panipuri fluid or otherwise in cross-contaminating situations. Given the modes of personal hygiene employed by most Indians, rings become a reservoir of dangerous fecal bacteria.

    I was shocked by the casua disregard of elementary consideration, to say nothing of hygiene, exhibited by the hosts of Highway On My Plate: in various confectionaries, bakeries etc. they hung over the counters where food was displayed at eye level, talking over such displays, not realizing the effluvi depositing on the food, then taking out trays of food, playing, handling, joking, to be restored back for general sales. What is wrong with our culture and our own minds when people who claim to be so hip & cool are unaware of the very wrong example they are setting? We are drama queens about swine flu, yet we are completely unconcerned about the minimal standards of food hygiene.

  15. Hi Himanshu.. thanks a planet for enlightening/ highlighting such great places to sample splendid food! for me it started with your interview in Express Newsline (IE daily suppl.) and you recommending Bade Mian Kheer Waale..whoever i’ve taken there to have labelled it as the best kheer they’ve ever had, and i still religiously take back half a kilo for my family whenever i am there (though being a mallu, i still relish like a kid the rice payasam we get in mallu langars 🙂 ). and daulat ki chaat, which was marvelous (i just love the milky burp i get afterwards, sorry :P).
    Have you tried Abdul Malik Tikke Waala’s kali mirch ke tikke?? (he sits diagonally opposite and to the right of – if you are facing Bazaar Matia Mahal lane – Gate No.1, Jama Masjid. he sits everyday after 7.30 pm onwards till, as per him, 2-4 in the morning). it was again recommended in Expressline as the last few places where they serve such a tikka well. For veggies in our group, having a matar samosa or kachori at shyam sweets (his shop is at the chowk where Nai Sarak meets Chawari bazaar) is a delicious must!
    oh by the way, i get stymied everytime i end up at Afghan restaurant in lajpat nagar, that they dont open on sunday, that they are open only in the evening, lack of veg dish for the eklauta veggie in my group, and one time they were closed for no reason! the contact person you had mentioned (was it the same IE article ??) got pissed off with me saying, with a strong Pashto accent, this no. doesnt belong to Afghan restaurant.
    but thanks a ton again! will keep on adding new tidbits here as a token of appreciation. hope you like it.

  16. I would recommend Karim’s Murgh Musallam anyday. Have it with the yeast naan and it can satiate 3 people with everything they expect from a gravy chicken .

  17. Great article and the pictures. I was expecting your gang to be on healthier side {?} but they all looked pretty normal despite all the love of Food !!

  18. Hello,
    This is totally out of context and very random but i had to give it a shot.
    My name is preeti and im from los angeles. I will be in Delhi on Nov 17th till the 20th. This will be my first trip to india. I am absolutely looking forward to the culinary experience but am afraid i will miss out on a lot sinve i dont know where to go and what to get. I was wondering if anyone on this site is willing to guide/accompany me through a foodie tour of delhi.
    Pls email me as preeti562@yahoo.com
    Thanks in advance.

  19. The problem with Karim’s is that instead of ghee or oil, they use Dalda, which is not only very unhealthy but also something that their ancestors, whom they cite on the first page of their menu, would not have been using.

    In my first year in college, I used to Karim’s there once every week and have been going there off and on for the last six years.. Recently, I went there after six months and found that the dishes we ordered (Badam Pasanda, Chicken Stew) were nowhere near as good as they used to be.

  20. In so many years of being a pure vegetarian, non vegetarian food always looked mouth watering and delicious, but I could not bring myself to its consumption. But recently I had a change of heart and I decided to find out what the fuss was all about. So, I headed off to Karim’s last night for my first full non-vegetarian meal. We were only 2 ppl, but my friend who went along with me wanted me to taste everything and we ordered a kingsize meal of mutton burra, seekh kabab, chicken biryani, chicken jahangir with sheermal and rumali roti. Having never eaten any non vegetarian food before, I only had a slight idea of what to look for i.e. well cooked but juicy meat. So here’s my observation of what was served:
    Mutton Burra – Slightly undercooked, less meat more bones (as someone else also complained), amazing spices
    Chicken Biryani – Chicken was undercooked. I liked the overall taste but without a salan/curry it wasn’t completely worth it.
    Chicken Jahangir – Very oily with spices that hurt the throat and not remain in the mouth. Nicely cooked chicken.
    Sheermal – Very very good , but quite thick and becomes a little dry in the mouth after chewing a little bit.
    Seekh Kabab – I frankly didn’t like it perhaps because it came last and my stomach was bursting.
    I don’t know what to make of the food quality but I did end up with a sore throat becuase of all the spices and oil. I’m definitely not going to Karim’s again.

  21. I visited Karim very recently in feb,2012.My fav meat is Chicken and I love it. I heard a lot about Karim in newspapers and social media so I visited there with my wife and brother-in-law.I ordered 2 main courses in chicken, 1 chicken tikka and 1 biryani.Service was really quick and they served both main chicken course and lastly chicken tikka which is supposed to be delivered first.First impression, it didn’t look good so I though anyway I shouldn’t expect good service,hygiene or good looking food here as it’s not a 5 start restaurant. So I went ahead and tried chicken with roomali roti and butter nan. To my surprise, it tastes really horrible with so much of oil on plate and it was completely tasteless. So , I thought of trying biryani and that was a real shock as i have never seen Biryani like this. It was like eating rice chicken and no taste of spices.I am not a good cook but I can make 1000 times better chicken. I think they are still busy because of brand and has lost their food skill.I will never suggest Karim to anyone and if this is way they can’t survive long.

  22. First time I went to Kareem’s was in 1992, from then onwards whenever I was visiting Delhi that’s a sure stop. In the U.S for the past 18 years, still I make it a point to visit Kareem’s every year. Therefore, I do not agree with most of the comments. I agree with glassbead that you need to know which items to order. The whole lamb or the burra lamb is a difficult one to cook and some areas are chewy and some or not. This is the same, whether you have the whole lamb in middle east, afghani restaurants in New York or elsewhere. No matter where you eat in the world, there is nothing to match the nihari, kababs, mutton/chicken stew you get at Kareem’s period.

  23. great detailed review — 10 on 10 …. Pictures, personalised story, motley group of foodies & detailing of tastes, textures & the food —- Karims however is not my favourite personally …I think its over hyped

  24. Glassbead, an excellent insight on already great article.
    I went to karim’s last month and suffered diarrhea for 3 days (severe enough to take probiotic supplements). I don’t know wether it was spices or poor hygeine that caused it. Food is too greasy and meat lacks taste and texture it is supposed to have.

    I have been living in Karolbag and often have to go to rajenra palace ( the next metro halt) so I was lucky enough to find this place- it doesn’t have a name probably and it’s a dhaba – but I have come to like all it’s dishes but Ofcourse the favorite is mutton curry – its mildly spiced and yet the combination comes out full of flavour.
    It’s called ” rajendra nagar ki tanki wala dhaba”.
    Though lately I have noticed some change in the taste (mind you It’s just a time period of 2 months since i found it). I don’t know if it’s inflation or something but still it’s a hundred time better than karims – and it didn’t give me a diarrhea – that’s my closing statement.

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