Sometimes, a restaurant or hotel travel guides gush over, really is all that. Not often, but Karim’s, a 100 year old restaurant in an back alley in Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi,) lives up to the hype. Weaving through alleys to get there, cramped linoleum tables, multiple dining rooms, kitchens open to the alley where the staff’s motorbikes park, low ceilings, no silverware, and lots and lots of people definitely made for a “you’re in India” experience. The delicious food was a “you’re in India” experience, too (and that’s really good in my book.)
Our host at the Tree of Life guest house, Ashwani, recommended the Chicken Noorjahani and Tandoori Roti. They were out of the Chicken Noorjahani, so we asked out waiter to suggest an alternative. We also ordered kebabs under the impression that it would be Mirielle friendly hot-pepper free. along with Pepsi and Tandoori Roti.
The food was ugly, but sooooo good. That mud pictured above (Akbari Murgh Masala) was a spicy, aromatic sauce held together by a little chicken and made a tasty dipping sauce for the Roti. In India, unlike Indian restaurants in the U.S., hot pepper is added to everything including kebabs, so our ground lamb patties had a savory kick that sent me over the moon, but left Mirielle on a diet of bread and water. The soda served was from a fountain so we learned to specify canned soda in the future so we wouldn’t have concerns about the water.
For all the write-ups Karim’s gets in North American and European tour books, there were few tourists. The table to one side of us was a group of what looked like university students. On the other side were three families dining together, women in hijabs, men with taqiyah, and kids as rowdy as my own. (It’s so refreshing to see that pre-schooler squirminess knows few ethnic, cultural, religious, or gender boundaries.)
Karim’s. Jama Masjid, Gali Kababian, Old Delhi, India. Phone: +91-11-23269880.