Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kareems

Gosh, I can ramble on and on and on about this place. This place has been my second kitchen ever since I have been in Gurgaon and let me tell you, it has been about 11 years now. Perhaps I can safely say that if you are a non vegetarian and in Delhi and haven’t been to Kareem’s, you probably should not call yourself as the big fat foodie. It is as heinous a crime to have not gone to Kareem’s as it would be if you are in Lucknow and not been to Tunde’s. Its like that PSPO ad “Arre ise PSPO nahin pata types”. I hope I have been successful in translating the or perhaps in creating the right image or should I call it as the perfect foreplay to a gastronomical journey.

While you may have innumerable shops that might open every here and there and may profess to cook non vegetarian food, let me say Kareem is probably the big daddy of all. Unperturbed, it has been around for as long as I can remember. This establishment means only strict business, and that is good food. While I am sure that you must be aware that there are different branches of Kareem’s spread across the NCR, from Jama Masjid, being the headquarters, to the Kareem’s at Noida, Gurgaon, Nizzamuddin. I have visited all the Kareem’s and I would recommend the Jama Masjid one to be the place where you must visit to get the actual feel of Kareem’s. The real thing, the actual punch.

I would write today about the Kareem’s at Gurgaon, which is situated on the Old Delhi Gurgaon road, near Payal Cinema. If you are aware of the local roads in Gurgaon, the landmark would be the Atul Kataria Chowk. As I entered Kareem’s @ Gurgaon, the feeling was something that I have been well aware from about 10 years. The fragrance of spices, that familiar smell, when you have meat cooking in lot of spices, garlic and ginger. The fragrance itself is enough to exponentially increase your hunger. As one enters the restaurant, you would realize that there is nothing about ambience or anything. You just see multiple waiters in the Pathani suits rapidly moving across, serving, or clearing the plates.

Getting to the food part, I am just confused where to begin from. Let me tell you that I almost visit Kareem’s almost once a week when I am here in India. For sure, the two things that are invariably ordered are the Dil Pasand Seekh Kabab and the Bemisaal Shammi Kebab. What is interesting is that the kebabs which are served in Kareem’s are unique and not served any where else. If you have probably read my previous entries, there are different types of Shammi Kebabs and Seekh Kebabs that are served. To begin with Shammi Kebabs, there is one genre, which is the typical spicy kebabs which are served at almost all roadside vendor, simple mutton mince patties which are roasted on the tawa and served piping hot. This variant of the kebab is the one which is soft and spicy, usually adulterated with pulses, to substitute actual meat. Might I mention that traditionally, pulses are added onto kebabs as a biding agent, so that the meat doesn’t fall off. The other variant of the Shammi Kebab is the one which is served in Kareem’s. This variant is actually deep fried variant, which looks as if it has been coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried. The size of the patties or the kebabs are substantially bigger, almost twice the other variant I have mentioned previously. One bite into the kebab and you would realize that inside it is actually coarsely ground meat along with black pepper and other spices.

Similarly, Seekh Kebabs is one of the most commonly found starters in almost any and every restaurant, but nonetheless, I would say the most abused option. Seekh Kebabs are also of different variants. One would be the mouth melting variants, which are commonly referred to as Kakori Kebabs. The other variant is the Seekh kebab which you would get at any tom dick and harry restaurant, all across North India, which would be gorgeous red in color, and spicy hot. The third variant is the Seekh Kebabs which are served at Kareem’s, which are brown in color, soft, but not mouth meting. What sets aside this variant of Seekh kebabs at Kareem’s is the juiciness and freshness of the kebab which you would probably not find anywhere else. The tender looking kebabs with the special aroma of meat and spices is just too tempting.

Moving on from my theory and analysis on Kebabs, the other item in the menu that should be ordered is the Tandoori Chicken and the Afghani Chicken. Perfectly roasted with minimal use of artificial colors, and optimum use of spices makes it the perfect delicacy in the starters. Again, it is here id like to point out that typically, in North India, Tandoori Chicken and its other variants such as Afghani, Haryali, etc are all rampantly abused with excessive spices, artificial color and not properly cooked. But nonetheless, again at Kareem’s, the Tandoori and the Afghani are perfectly roasted that makes you relish the actual taste of what a Tandoori chicken should be.

Another item on the menu that must be tried is the Mutton Burra, (especially if you are in the Jama Masjid branch). This one is actual boned pieces of mutton, in a spicy marinade.

Coming onto the curries, the Mutton Rogan Josh, the Jehnagiri Qorma, the Badhsahi Badam Pasanda are must try items. The Mutton Rogan Josh is slightly sweet. The pasanda ‘s are boneless strips of goat meat in a thick gravy. In a place like Kareem’s, one should avoid the generic Butter Chicken, Karahi Chicken and types which you get in almost every shop in your neighborhood. What you should try here are the authentic Mughlai gravies, which one normally doesn’t get anywhere else. If you happen to venture into the restaurant on the weekend, you would be lucky enough to sample the weekend special Goat Nihari. While the curries here in Kareem’s are oily and spicy, yet each gravy has a distinct flavor that separates it from the other. In chicken gravies, the Shahjahani Murgh Masala and the Jahangiri Murgh are ones that are usually the most popular dishes. The curries are heavy and usually cooked with Dalda. If you are a health freak, you might not wish to try the curry dishes, but nonetheless, I am sure that the biggest health freaks would probably not be able to resist the temptation.

I am not a big fan of Kareem’s in terms of Biryani, and perhaps would not recommend the same.

Now I am sure that you must be confused with the innumerable dishes that I have mentioned. In fact in most occasions, when I visit Kareem’s and order both the Kebabs, there are times when the Seekh Kebabs are much tastier than the Shammi’s where as on other days, there is a role reversal. I guess as a tip or an advice, the secret to enjoying food at Kareem’s is to order just a few dishes, rather a large array of dishes. This is particularly important to be able to taste the distinct taste of each dish making it a long lasting feeling. For instance, when the kebabs are served, just have the kebabs as starters and not as main course.

A must visit place, which is all about good food with close friends or family.

Quick Facts

Kareem’s M ughlai Food

Old Delhi Road,

Opp Payal Cinema, Gurgaon

Ph: 0124-2321942, 2305739, 9810986722

Lunch: 12:00 P.M. to 3.30 P.M.

Dinner: 6:00 P.M. to 11.00 P.M.

Tuesday Closed

Must Have

Seekh & Shammi kebabs

Mutton Burra

Tandoori & Afghani Chicken

Mutton - Jehangiri Qorma, Badshahi Badam Pasanda , Firdausi Qorma (Rogan Josh)

Chicken – Jahangiri Chicken, Shahjahani Mughlai Murgh

Try and avoid

Butter Chicken, Karahi Chicken

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