Lunch at Karim’s

Established in 1913, Karim’s is one of the oldest restaurants in Delhi, and arguably the most famous. It’s in Old Delhi, near the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. The restaurant is almost impossible to find unless you know where you’re going. First, you have to find gate #1 of the mosque. (I’ve been inside the mosque, but not on this trip). When I was younger, traveling in India in the 1980s, I tried and failed to find Karim’s. This time I had two hungry guides.

Walk about half a block south on the street debouching from the mosque, and you’ll see a grubby alley on your left. Inside you can barely glimpse the restaurant. There is no sign on the street to point out the restaurant. You just have to know it’s there.

And there it is! Gastronomic delights await you!

As you enter, you see pots of mutton stew and other comestibles:

A lad making kebabs over a charcoal fire:

And the bread station, where three guys spend their entire day cooking rotis, chappatis, and naans in a tandoori oven. Karim’s is famous for its bread, and rightly so. I’ve never had better oven-cooked naans in my life. The guy in the rear slaps the formed breads into an oven, and, when they’re done, retrieves them with a hook and hurls them accurately onto the counter, where the waiters gather them. They’re always brought to the table piping hot. I photographed the baker in mid-hurl:

The menu. $1 US is about 66 rupees, so half dishes are about $3 each, full sized about $5. A plate of bread has three pieces. You will go through bread!

DO NOT miss the breads:

We began with two kebabs: minced mutton and chunks of mutton. The grilled flavor was superb, and the mutton chunks nicely layered with soft fat. We ate these with hot naans, raw onions, and a squeeze of lemon.

The plain naans, served with our next dish, mutton korma. You eat with your right hand only, tearing off chunks of roti and sopping them in the gravy or using them to enfold a bit of meat. The gravy was amazingly good.

And then a very spicy mutton dish: Mutton Jahangiri, named after a Mughal emperor. It was an all-mutton meal, but every dish was different, and we were stuffed after several plates of the those rotis. “More-ish”, as the Brits, say.

After lunch my companions took us to a stall across the street for a lovely Indian dessert: shahi tukra, the best bread pudding in the world. It’s made with milk, cardamom, rosewater, fried bread, butter, sugar, almonds, saffron, and pistachios. This guy had a huge warm pan of it covered with silver foil and some kind of red confection. He was doing big business, as this stall is apparently famous:

My portion being served!

A closeup. Yes, that’s real silver foil on top:

This was an exquisite dessert, warm and full of buttery, creamy goodness and hunks of bread, all with a cardamom/rose perfume:

The Jama Masjid is surrounded by the Muslim area of Delhi, which has many places to buy meat (spurned by many Hindus). The meat is freshly killed as the locals insist on freshness. I won’t show you the crowded cages of chickens, which, if you want a chicken, are killed on the spot and plucked. The conditions are inhumane for these birds.

Apparently dates are popular with the Muslim population, as they had about ten different kinds on offer at many stalls around the mosque.

And fresh pineapple for sale by the slice.




  1. Posted December 18, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank You for sharing your wonderful travel experiences! ❤️

  2. Posted December 18, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Four of my meals this week will be curries so that I may endure the pictures I am viewing. Thanks for sharing.

  3. GBJames
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I’d probably find the Hindu side of town more appealing (more vegetarian options).

  4. busterggi
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    No FDA Food Code I see.


  5. Posted December 18, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    I ate at Karim’s once, in 2006, but it was the one at Nizzamudin, not the one near the Jama Masjid, which I could never find. Great food, as you say!

    Nizzamudin is nice on Thursday evening too (but Karim’s is closed then), when you can hear the Qawwali singing, Sufi devotional music. Wonder how long the extremists will allow that to go on…

  6. Posted December 18, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Very nice, thanks for sharing these. Good thing I just ate lunch! 🙂

  7. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Awesome post

    [checks website name]

    Why Evolution Is True

    …. I see.

  8. Debbie Coplan
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I just loved this! The food looks amazing and so did the journey to get there. I love the huge pan of the dessert.
    Thank you for sharing and I can’t wait to see more as I probably will not get a chance to go to India. And if I did, it would be as a true tourist seeing the landmark sights only as I don’t know anyone there.

  9. RPGNo1
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Yummy 🙂

  10. Karan
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Wait is *that* what the Brits are saying? I always thought they were saying moorish as in of the Moors. Of course why they would say that I had no idea. Your version makes more sense.

    • Snake
      Posted December 18, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      I’ve heard British comedians say that the problem with heroin is that it’s very moreish.


    • Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s because we’re hooked on North African food.

  11. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Very nice tour guide on this eating site.

    PCC is very lucky to get out of town before the black out at the Atlanta airport which still has air travel all screwed up. Also, late news today concerning a derailment out in the Seattle area. At least 6 people reported dead and the train is all over the place out there. Still carrying this story on CNN, MSNBC and others.

    • Mark R.
      Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      I live in WA state, and this is making huge news here (obviously). When Tr*mp tw**ted “this is why our country needs an infrastructure bill”, I was happy at least our local news outlets corrected him; I don’t think anyone corrected him when he said this again at a press briefing. This was a brand new line and it happened to be the very first time they allowed people to use it. The irony is brutal; and yet again, POTUS never learns that he should get some facts first before tw**ting his idiocy for the world to see.

      • Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I recognized that crossing and looked it up on Google Earth. Yeah, I’ve gone under that bridge a zillion times — in my Western WA days.

      • Posted December 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        “This was a brand new line and it happened to be the very first time they allowed people to use it.”

        News media here in the Pacific Northwest are reporting that the rolling stock (i.e. the actual train) was brand new, but the track was an existing freight line which was just now being used for passenger trains for the first time.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 18, 2017 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

        Amtrak said the positive train control [PTC] system had not been activated on the new route. PCT can be set up to automatically throttle speeds on a given section of track.

        According to THE SEATTLE TIMES:

        The Amtrak train […] was supposed to slow dramatically before entering the curve where the crash occurred. The speed limit at the curve where the train crosses Interstate 5 is 30 mph […] while the speed limit on most of the track is 79 mph. […] Daniel Konzelman, who was traveling on I-5 south parallel to the train, said he was traveling at 60 mph or more and watched the train pass his vehicle about a half-mile before the crash […], reported that the train was going about 81 mph shortly before the derailment

  12. Mark R.
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Coincidentally, while reading this earlier, I was eating rasam, and a tamarind dal. Yours looks better though!

  13. Cate Plys
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    The skies look blue and sunny==I was just wondering, after reading so much lately about the terrible air pollution even worse than Beijing.

  14. Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jerry, I see a lot of people in your photos wearing coats. What is the temperature like? 🙂

    • Posted December 18, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      I just checked the local weather and it looks incredibly nice! Lucky you! 🙂

  15. michael95blog
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious about the 8800 rupee tandoori bakra, which must be a whole goat (or close to it)?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 18, 2017 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      There has been some goat inflation since 2015! This is what the HINDUSTAN TIMES has to say:

      In Karim’s case, it’s their Tandoori Bakra. A full goat stuffed with pieces of chicken, eggs and rice, and roasted to juicy, melt-in-the-mouth perfection. Priced at Rs 7,500, the dish needs to be ordered a day in advance for – depending on your appetite – a group of 8-10 people.

      • Michael Day
        Posted December 19, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        Well, that seems pretty reasonable if I can bring along 7-9 friends…Thanks!

  16. BJ
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Oh my Vishnu, that bread pudding looks amazing!

    • Posted December 19, 2017 at 4:51 am | Permalink

      Yes, gorgeous. I was wondering why “real silver foil”, and not aluminium (sorry, aluminum) foil?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted December 19, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        Hi Colin. Thanks for the Cunk heads up

        Silver & gold foil are used decoratively in Indian cookery & for wrapping sweets, although aluminium foil does turn up posing as silver in forged goods! I’ve only ever seen it at the Hindu Indian weddings I’ve attended. Here’s the Wiki on what’s called vark: silver/gold foil in foods

        Merry Christmas to you sir!

  17. Posted December 18, 2017 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    You are very adventurous, PCC. Have a great time.

  18. Helen Hollis
    Posted December 18, 2017 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Finnish people also use Cardomom in their braided breads. Love the taste of it in a Pulla.Have a great trip, safe travels

  19. Posted December 19, 2017 at 4:54 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but those of you with access to BBC 2 TV should look out for Cunk on Christmas at 11.25pm GMT on Wednesday. PCC(E) take note.

  20. Posted December 19, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Out-of-the-way-hole-in-the-wall-places are often awesome. These places look that way! And pineapple by the slice is sure different – and the same.

  21. Qadeer Qureshi
    Posted December 19, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Wow! You can eat all this stuff without being sick? I am from that part of the world but having lived in the US for decades, I don’t dare eat out when I go back home. Every time I do that (at the insistence of friends) I become sick.

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