Monday, August 9, 2010

Finding Karim's

A good friend from childhood, Luke, has been visiting the past few days as he passes through Delhi on a research trip. Knowing that Luke, a former college football player, is not averse to the consumption of meat, it seemed like the perfect time to find Karim's, Delhi's oldest and probably most famous restaurant.

After a short visit to Jama Masjid, which seemed to make sense because the location of Karim's is described in most dining guides as "near Jama Masjid", we walked out Gate 1 simply because Lindsay said, "it just feels like it's going to be in that direction." We still had no idea exactly where it was but took advantage of a bicycle rickshaw driver offering his services for a tour of Old Delhi and asked directions. Once he confirmed Lindsay's original thoughts, we disappeared into a side street. Not fifty yards in, I looked up, saw a sign that said, "Karim's, Inside Street" with an arrow pointing to the left. Apparently, the search was a lot easier than anticipated.
If you find this view of Jama Masjid's Gate 1, you've basically found Karim's
After being seated at a table that we were asked to share with a group of French tourists, we were all a little cranky and a lot crowded. Thankfully, another table in the section shortly opened up, our French table guests moved (they seemed just as happy to have their own table as we were), and order was restored in the world.

I had heard that lamb or mutton was the way to go at Karim's but still couldn't help myself from ordering butter chicken, which I've determined is the litmus test of any Indian restaurant. The food, as expected, was excellent, and we ordered way too much for the three of us. The taste of the butter chicken was excellent though they lose a couple points because the chicken was still on the bone. Probably the way it's intended to be prepared, but considering the "national dish" of India (or so I'm calling it) was invented in the past 50 or 60 years, I feel there's no reason it should have bones. Other than the butter chicken, Lindsay enjoyed the naan, which was thicker and chewier than any other I've had but had the basic consistency (and taste, to be honest) of an unsalted soft pretzel. The mutton dishes, both the burra and the curry, were tasty though by the end of the meal there was a good quarter inch of oil on the top of the curry, again another Karim's staple.
The spread at Karim's
It's definitely not the most healthy of foods but for those looking to hit an authentic Indian restaurant in an authentic atmosphere, I think it might be tough to top. Based on the location, it's the kind of place that can easily both scare and capture the imagination of a new visitor to India, but then again, that's kind of the point.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoying the mouth watering Indian dishes at Karim's.