Many have praised Karim and even more have condemned it. It is too oily, they say…not as good as it is hyped to be. The food is just average, the location is not very approachable… just not worth the effort.
As usual, I beg to differ. Please note that I am only talking about the original Karim in Jama Masjid and do not hold any loyalty to its many franchisees mushrooming across Delhi. Reaching the restaurant is an adventure in itself. Walking through the brightly lit market in the back alley of the beautiful Jama Masjid, you find yourself in a non-vegetarian heaven. Disclaimer: If you are vegetarian or vegan or eggetarian or belong to any of those groups, do not even TRY to go here…or actually avoid this post altogether. For the rest of us, as my boss used to say…if you can “eat anything that lives or has ever lived”, go right on! The aroma of fried chicken fills your nostrils as you walk past a row of shops frying chicken and making hot tikkas. As you find your way through, there is a small opening between two shops with a signboard – Karim that you just might miss. Enter this lane and you find yourself a very peculiar sight. The story goes thus – the owner had three sons. Each son wanted to break away and open his own Karim. The father kept one condition. They could open their own restaurants but the kitchen would remain the same. So, coming back to the story, as soon as you enter this tiny lane, you open into a courtyard with an open kitchen in the centre and 3 Karims around it. Don’t hesitate or wonder which one to go to – they all serve the same food silly!!
A board on the wall claims that Karim was started by one of the head chefs in the mughal kitchens. Since then, each ancestor passed on the legacy and secret recipes to the next generation. And frankly, once you eat the food, you wont doubt the legitimacy of this tall claim. The mutton burra and seekh kebabs are highly recommended. The burra is roasted perfectly to give the smoky taste and seekhs could give most kakori kebabs in the city a run for their money (with the exception of Salim and Dum pukht of course). For the main course, the most popular dishes are mutton korma and mutton stew though I am particularly fond of the saag chicken as well. They serve hot rotis with this…the rotis are probably the most unique item on the menu. Crisp yet soft, they have a slightly sweet flavor but are so delicious that my dad often eats a roti by itself at the end of the meal!!
If you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned prices till now, the reason is that it just doesn’t matter you see! The rates are ridiculously low. A meal for 2 including 2 plates of kebabs, 2 main courses, rotis and cold drinks will only put you back by around Rs.300-350. No, don’t fall off your seat, my friend, you read correctly….
So next time you are with company that doesn’t demand plush interiors as long as the food is delectable, don’t think twice…Karim won’t let you down!