In a nutshell:
Loved dining here on two at this 2 month old restaurant, a branch of a traditional old restaurant in Jama Masjid area of Dilli.
Address & other details: Purani Dilli’s Al Karam Kebab House
Meal for 2: Rs. 600 onwards
Cuisine type : Vegetarian & Nonvegetarian
Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster.
Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:
This is a small restaurant with a buzzing home delivery business. It has 4 tables & 4 chairs each, making it a 16 seater restaurant. The finishing Kitchen is a part of the shop & takes almost half the space. The main kitchen is obviously somewhere else.
As u enter the restaurant, u can make out that the staff is engaged in non stop home delivery and take away.
Food is displayed in old dilli style outside the shop – with kababs nicely decorated & curries in aluminium handis. A Sigri placed outside the shop right near the entrance. The guy at the sigri breaks into a chat if u show interest in what he is making.
Had a great chat with the young, educated, very passionate & cool co-owner. He is the one who stands outside the restaurant in the evenings & personally invites people to the restaurant. He is also the one who personally goes to each table to discuss the order & take the order. When he came to our table I asked ‘what is the story of this place? R u from the family of the Guys who own the Old delhi shop?’.
He said he was a foodie and used to frequent Jama masjid area a lot and al Karam was one of his favorites. During one of his visits he had a chat with the young owner and said ‘ why don’t u venture outside the walled city’. Pat came the reply ‘let’s do it together, u run the show, we provide recipes and cooks’. The rest is as they say, ‘history’ & here we have a small wonderful eatery in Gurgaon that serves very good food that is I guess as close to the real thing as possible. Why I say ‘as close’ is coz these guys at time add a bit of ‘apna twist’ to some of the traditional stuff.
The staff guys were very nice as people & they tried their best to take care, as if we were guests at their home. However it seemed they were not yet used to the basics of serving in a restaurant that too in Gurgaon where people get so fussy about even small things. e.g. Being able to explain the dishes was also a challenge to some of them / say how one dish is different from the other, forget suggesting a good dish. The staff members also consistently forgot to remove plates from table after the meal was over.
The owners however more than made it up by explaining in detail the food, the inspiration of the food, the history (if any) & much more. What will happen if they r off on vacations? The staff will surely not b able to manage well. Need more training.
They take Only cash so far. No credit cards.
Detailed Description – In case u have the Time to NJOY reading:
We ordered 3 different kababs on day 1 & dessert. All 3 kababs that we ordered were served with some sauce that was made specially for that dish. I call it sauce and not gravy but those were good enough to b eaten with Roti as well.
On day 2 we went for curries & dessert.
We started our meal with Gilafi mutton sheekh kabab. Gilafi means cover. These guys used chopped carrots, mawa /khoya, chilly, cashew & raisins as cover. Post we ordered the food, the owner said ‘Why don’t u come to the sigri & see how it is made’. I guess that was a result of a great 15 minutes foodie chat b4 that.
The guy took the meat paste in his hand & wrapped it around the sheekh like it is usually done. Then he took a handful of the various ingredients used for cover & rolled over the sheekh on those. The ingredients stuck to the sticky base & the raw kabab was ready to b put into the sigri.
After the kabab was done, he finished it by dunking it into a pre-made sauce and liquid butter. This whole thing was then served to us piping hot.
The kabab was super soft, very juicy & YUMM. The Gilafi items did not directly contribute to the taste but their cumulative effect added richness to the kabab specially the mawa/khoya and the cashew. Loved it and rate it 4.5/5.
We also went for Al Karam roasted Chicken puranI dilli style. It had a Dahi based sauce with cream that was spicy but not too spicy, hot but optimally hot & real ltasty. There was a mild tinge of sour making the dish tangy.
The roasted chicken was soft, had charred ends that were just right & great to eat. The dish overall was very good and I rate it 4.25/5.
The next dish we ordered was Fish tikka. It was made from surmai fish. This was ridiculously good – we were like ‘what!!!!’ . The tikka was juicy, soft, Layery, and had perfect seasoning. It was outstanding on its own. It was placed atop a thick green sauce. The sauce turned out to b methi based. With the sauce the fish tasted even more yumm. Super loved it & rate it 4.75/5
After 3 starter items we were totally full as the portion sizes r pretty good & the food is heavy as well.
For dessert we ordered Anjeer kulfi. It turned out to b over frozen. In fact it was so hard that it had the potential to make a banging noise if it were to fall on the ground. Cutting the kulfi obviously needed skill. I had to cut the kulfi for my adult co-diner coz she just cud not manage it.
Lots of mawa/khoya were making their presence felt. Anjeer was very very understated. This dish was much better than the cheap ‘less milk more water’ based sweets available in many shops / streets of Jama masjid area. I rate this dish as good but not great. 3/5.
We also tried the Shahi tukra on special recommendation from the owner. It was undoubtedly one of the best shahi tukras I have had in a long time. It was served warm. Simply Outstanding. This was offered to us complimentary saying ‘ since we had a good food chat, this is complimentary.’ Inspite of my protests, the item was not added to the bill. So, we paid rs. 80 on cash to the serving guy saying this was for the shahi tukra & paid him a tip as well. U will hence not find this item on the bill.
The bread used for the shahi tukra was not the industrially manufactured one. It was coarse and unsophisticated . Sweetness had entered it uniformly. An outstanding ‘less sweet’ reduced milk & cream topped up the bread soaked in syrup. Loved it. The browned sides of the bread were even better than the center parts. Loved the full bite of bread with the reduced milk. Just too good. Rate it 4.75/5.
We also packed off some Habshi Halwa – a Delhi winter specialty that is made from reduced milk, sugar & spices being slow cooked for a long time. It was daanedaar, fragrant, had great aroma of spices & tasted very different & YUMM. This was much better than the ones we used to NJOY at Chaina Ram, Chandni Chowk. The only word of caution is that this halwa might not b liked by some but those who like it wud just love it. I rate it 4.75/5
This was curry day for us.
In karims or old jawahar curries there is usually do much fat floating in liquid form that at times the pungency of masalas reduce and so does the intensity of taste. Here at Al Karam it was not the case.
Mutton stew looked completely different than the ones served in other Mughalai restaurants. It was more yellowish compared to the brownish color traditionally. The base of the gravy was curd and that made a good difference to the direction o the curry. The spices made their presence felt prominently.
The meats were soft, nice & tasty.
There was an executional error though. The salt in the gravy was suboptimal. After adding salt it started tasting very good, rated the dish 3.5/5 but for the salt rating gets revised to 3/5.
Mutton Nihari had a thick, spicy, robust, rustic gravy and it had ‘melt in the mouth’ pieces of mutton, Super loved it and rate it 4.5/5.
Thank god when we r Nihari hungry we do not have to go as far as Jama masjid afte a 1 hr metro ride. With the exceptions of the top 2-3 beef nihari shops, the nihari at Al Karam is almost as good (surely as good/ better than Karim’s).
Khameeri roti was super fluffy soft and had slight fermented flavor. As good as it cud get. Rate it 4.5/5
For dessert we had Chukandar (Beet root) halwa. Well, while I have had loads of gajar halwa, I was not remembering eating this in a while. I asked the owner as to what is the inspiratin of this dish – Is is just random? He said that this is inspired by a guy in Delhi who sets shop beside a masjid & sells this sweet which is his personal favorite.
The halwa had loads of grated beetroot & lots of mawa. It was not over sweet, very robust to taste & had immense intensity of taste & flavor. Super loved it & rate it 4.5/5.
Overall rating of Al Karam averages out to 4.25/5 which is a pretty high score considering the average has happened over so many dishes.
Will keep going back to this place to try changezi chicken, biryani & more. Will keep u posted.