It’s the breathless refrain every expat asks every other expat in Delhi: “You haven’t been to Karim’s yet?!?”

The unmarked alley entrance means you’ll never stumble upon it. This is the allure of Karim’s: to go there is to discover a secret of the old city.

Some people will tell you it’s the oldest restaurant in Delhi. Other people will tell you that they invented Mughal-style food. The truth doesn’t really matter. Only the food does.

You don’t know what to look at first — the kebab guys, the bread guys, the guys carrying more dishes than seems possible, the motorcycles honking as they weave through what you’d think was the middle of the restaurant, or the proprietors of each of the four dining rooms who, inexplicably, appear to be in competition with each other for your patronage.

Every time we go, we learn a new secret. Last time we learned that the Karim’s Veg dish, with paneer, dates, and some sort of nut-based gravy, is the stuff of dreams. The time before that, we learned that they serve breakfast. This time we learned that the half-inch of oil puddled atop every bowl of stew isn’t supposed to be eaten. It’s there to show you that the food has been cooked so well that the fat has liquefied; the fat itself is meant to be drained into a separate dish.

Our parents are coming in November to visit. In the days they spend with us before embarking on their packaged tour, we’ll make sure they know this secret of the old city; and when they meet up with the rest of their tour group, they’ll be the ones breathlessly asking, “You haven’t been to Karim’s yet?!?”

13 responses to “Karim’s

  1. While you’re in Old Delhi, also check out Parathe wali gali- a small lane filled with shops serving parathas. (It’s very close to the Chandni Chowk metro station- after you exit, you just have to cross the road to reach the lane).

  2. Oh Dear! You weren’t eating the 2 inch of oil were you? They should mention this on the menu… I’ve heard several people complaining about the “oil problem”.

    And yeah, like rexdude says, the Parathe Wali Gali is a good place. It’s dirty and cramped, but the parathes are much better. Better than the “Not Just Parathas” in GK2.

    – Saad

  3. Do you ever get sick eating at these local joints? They don’t look very clean.

  4. Great post. Your photos really set the scene. I lived in Bangalore for a year and experienced some incredible food, but I never found a place like this. I wish this post had been available on one of my trips to Delhi. I’d have been sure not to miss it!

  5. loved the way you have presented this..
    nice pictures .. especially when it’s time for my lunch LOL

  6. Your posts are GREAT!! After being an ex-pat here in Delhi for 3 years I know I couldn’t capture it all as well as you have. But please do the needful and try the Karims in Nizzamudin as well.

  7. well … look who’s getting hooked onto Delhi’s offerings when it comes to food. Despite the effort to get to the place, I myself visit the place once in a while.

    Also, being a foodie myself, I’d like to recommend ‘chole bathure’ from this place called ‘Ramesh Namkin Bhandar’. It’s in west Delhi. They are amazing, and I am salivating at the thought, just as I type this 🙂

  8. MMMM. For a foodie, a night at Karim’s is a must. There are two more branches, one at Hazrat Nizammudin and one at East of Kailash (more of a takeaway). But nothing compared to the experience of the Jama masjid ambience.

    I remember one sumptuous meal I had – three hours of eating meat, sheermal, the works. And topping up with a paan down the corner.

    Remember to have lots of yoghurt / curds when you are eating this kind of food.

  9. Pingback: The memories of Raan « The AD Zone

  10. The raan, the raan. I used to pick up one up from Nizamuddin on my way to the airport, and eat it with the wife back in Cal.


  11. Hi this is the comment regarding KARIM’s where the degchis displayed show 2 inches of oil on top. Maybe if one were to have the food served at KARIM’S one may put on extra calories. There are ways to work it out or stay like KUNAL VIJAKAR, but it must be stated that AFTER HAVING THE FOOD AT KARIM’S NOT FOR ONCE HAVE I FELT QUEASY. IT IS THE CONDIMENTS THAT TAKE AWAY THAT QUEASINESS, EVEN THOUGH IT APPEARS OILY/GREASY. So have no such fears, enjoy the food and seize the day!!

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  13. Pingback: Kebabs at Karim’s | More photos from Dave Prager's "Delirious Delhi"

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