Karim's. Delhiites are probably aware of the name. For the uninitiated though, this is the best restaurant in Delhi, serving non-vegetarian food since 1913. Every food guide worth its name has voted it Delhi's best restaurant for many years. No one who has visited the restaurant will disagree.
As for me, I am a die-hard fan.
The original Karim's is bang opposite Jama Masjid in the walled city area of Delhi. It is close to a market known as Darya Ganj. Those visiting Karim's for the first time will be surprised at the location. Getting there is not easy, you will need to ask locals for help.
Until the 1990s, Karim's did not have any branches, but they have now opened branches in Nizamuddin, Kailash Colony, Noida, Gurgaon with the latest in Kamla Nagar. The quality of food, however, has a long way to go before it matches the original Karim's.
At this mouth-watering point, let's talk of the food. As I said at the outset, Karim's is a gastronomic delight for non-vegetarians. Vegetarians are welcome too, but at their own risk.
For starters, I'd recommend the Mutton Burra (succulent pieces of mutton cooked in an oven). Believe me, you have not tasted softer mutton.
You could also try Mutton Raan (part of the thigh). This starter is huge, and is meant for four or five people.
Alternately, try the kebabs. You have a wide range to choose from, including Seekh Kebabs, Shammi Kebabs and Mutton Tikka.
In the chicken category, sample the Chicken Seekh Kebab, Tandoori Chicken or Chicken Tikka.
For the main course, please, please order the Mutton Korma, Mutton Stew and Badam Pasanda (boneless mutton cooked with yoghurt, almonds and spices). You will fall in love with all of them.
Those who like chicken can go for the awesome Chicken Noor Jehan and Chicken Jahangiri. Karim's offers other dishes as well, but the five I have mentioned are unbeatable for their flavour.
As for the bread, try the Khamiri Roti (prepared with wheat flour and yeast). Thick and slightly sweet, it is an interesting deviation from the traditional tandoori roti. Alternately, order the Keema Parantha (parantha stuffed with minced mutton). Karim's also offers roomali rotis, butter nans and paranthas.
Do remember to save space for dessert.
Karim's serves two main desserts that are out of this world. Kheer Benazir (prepared with milk, broken rice, sugar) and Shahi Tukda (fried bread soaked in condensed milk) are both delicious ends to a satisfying meal. They are perfectly made. Any meal at Karim's is incomplete without these desserts. And yes, if you are ordering the Shahi Tukda, do order it with the meal itself, as it takes a while to prepare.
The most exclusive dish at Karim's is the Tandoori Bakra -- a full goat stuffed with dry fruits, basmati rice, minced meat and spices. It costs Rs 3,500. You have to order a day in advance and make a 50 percent down payment. I have not sampled it yet, but definitely will when I visit the restaurant with a huge group.
The service at every Karim's restaurant is impressive; despite the huge crowds that gather, it is also very quick. A meal for two -- with starters, main course and dessert -- will cost Rs 300-400 if you eat at Karim's, Jama Masjid. If you eat at the other branches, add 40 per cent to this figure as the dishes there are more expensive.
The original Karim's does not offer valet parking, but its branches do. Credit cards are accepted at all branches except the main restaurant.
The ambience at each branch varies. The original has tasteful interiors and can comfortably host about 100 people. The ambience at the East of Kailash branch is okay; the one in Gurgaon, least appealing.
Non-vegetarians must visit Karim's at least once. The next time you feel the need for a satisfying meal, you know where to go.
Old Delhi -- 110 006
Phones: (91-011) 23269880, 23264981
Get Ahead reader and self-confessed foodie Nishant Jha is a willing to travel far and wide for the perfect meal.
This is a reader review. The opinions expressed here are solely of the reader.
Photo: Atul Chowdhary
Rate it in terms of food, ambience, service, accessibility, whether you will go back and whatever other factors come to mind.
Send in your reviews in 700-1,000 words.
Don't forget to add the restaurant's address and phone number. Do send in your full name, age, the city you are from, your profession and your contact number.