Karim’s Jama Masjid - A Mughal Delight

Both I and Janak are fond of non-vegetarian food. Whether it was at the Delhi Golf Club or at Barqat, we indulge in chicken curries and mutton dishes with gusto. So it was not long since we decided to savour the delicacies of Mughlai food with typical old Delhi style. We decided to hit Karim’s, a very famous restaurant, situated in front of the Jama Masjid gate just near the steps of the mosque.

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After dropping us at the road, we meandered into the busy bustling streets of Chandni Chowk right into where the mosque is situated across Mina Bazaar. The place is chalked with a block of bicycles, rickshaws and road-side non-vegetarian eateries serving roast lamb and chicken. Delicacies included mutton korma and chicken stew with the famous seekh kebab being roasted on iron rods sending smoke billowing up into the sky. We turned into a smaller gali and moved into an alley leading us down to Karim’s Restaurant itself.

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It is a neat and clean place with enough space for the crowd it caters to. You have to share your seats, of course, and at times one has to even wait for their turn. There is a huge oven where large hot khamiri rotis are made. I took a few photos of that and also shaped a man making kebabs and gravies in metallic pots and pans. The restaurant is properly lit up and the service is prompt.

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Red and cream coloured boards announce the word Karim’s as if to reassure the customer that he has finally landed at the right place to have a meal. The din of churning meat and the smell of seekh kebab greet people when they arrive here. The shouting waiters, the clinking of crockery and the falling of spoons are regular sounds as one waits impatiently to be seated.

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I tucked into mutton korma with seekh kebab and polished it off with a fat khameri roti while Janak had a chicken stew. A phirni was just the right dish to finish our meals with succulent flavours and masala still fizzing in my mouth. I realised how popular this outlet was with foreign travellers and local families alike. It has a heritage, this Karim’s, and it was started by chefs who worked in the kitchens of Bahadur Shah Zafar. The chief cook, after having hawked his skills, started Karim’s restaurant and it is now being run by his grandchildren. So you see how famous the lineage of this merry restaurant is. Nihari and payaa are also served here though only in the morning. The entire meal for the two of us with cold drinks cost us only Rs. 800 and we were burping after the meal.

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We had a quick stop at the pan shop to have the local pan and to keep the digestion going. Janak chose to share his rajanigandha pan masala along with the pan. Man, he is a much-shaken guy who enjoys the finer things in life. We were back from a fulfilling dinner after having a few drinks at the Delhi Golf Club which has become our regular watering hole for the time being. All in all, a pure Mughal day for the two of us.

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