Want to savour authentic Mughlai cuisine, Jama Masjid style- in the Millennium city? You should definitely consider this joint I tried. Pleasantly surprising for me was the fact that it is in my immediate neighbourhood. Interestingly the recipes of this culinary style are a well-guarded secret to the present day and passed down strictly within the family. Off I went to partake in a mughlai feast at the Purani Dilli’s Al Karam Kebab House.
It’s located in Supermart 1 and there was a continuous influx of people throughout my dining experience showing that the joint sure is pretty popular. As far as ambience goes, there’s nothing mentionable. The place has a seating capacity of 30 -35, very basic, but neat enough for dining out. The focus here is clearly on the food.
I got to interact with Varun Veigas, the suave owner of the place who’s passion for food made him start this venture. One of the biggest USP’s of the place is itsBawarchis. Sourcing his Bawarchis from Jama Masjid is as per Varun’s plan to offer authentic cuisine to his patrons in Gurgaon. And luckily for him (and us Gurgaon walas) one of his bawarchis is trained in two schools of Mughlai cuisine- theKallan and Hakimi gharanas. Infact I also learnt that the traditional Gharanas have this amazing custom in which every guest has to bring in one delicacy cooked by him if there’s any wedding in the community and the best cook is adjudged the winner. Al Karam is authentic and sticks to tradition- one can even savour dishes grilled over coal here.
For starters we had Paneer tikkas which were spicy and delicious. ThePurani Dilli roast chickenwas also a favourite. This is a spin off on the classic tandoori chicken with honey being one of the twists. It was extremely moist and juicy and left us craving for more. The Gilafi kabab- which is minced meat with cream cooked over coal- was bursting with flavours. Apart from the regular mutton and chicken dishes, Al Karam also serves quails and ducks. Now, both these have an acquired taste and hence evoked mixed reactions. Some fellow diners did happily tuck away into the quail and were raving about it, but the duck was a tad dry and did not quite make an impression. And mind you- both the quail and the duck need to be ordered 24 hours in advance.
And then came Haleem. The real test of haleem is that there should be no chunks left in the dish due to slow cooking overnight and this definitely passed the test. It went pretty well with both the roomali rotis and the khameeri rotis. Thechicken Korma also proved to be huge hit with the party. Finally, we were served hakimi chicken which is named after a gharana of mughlai cusine. Chicken pieces in a creamy gravy consisting of fried onions, yoghurt, khoya and coconut. One could taste every flavour in this gravy which is a rare feat in Indian cuisine. The perfect balance of flavours made this the piece de resistance of the meal.
The desserts now were a different story altogether. I can’t really fathom if it was due to the superlative taste of the main course, or it was actually the desserts but I felt that they lacked the wow factor of the starters and the main course. The phirni, I felt was a little dry but then that’s the way it’s prepared in Jama Masjid. So if authentic fare is what you dig then go ahead and try it. The Mutanjan was a very beautiful dish. White sweetened rice topped with cherries, khoya pieces and dry fruits. I did feel that the dish could have been sweeter .The desserts, at least for me personally, are too heavy to be had after the rich Mughlai main course (not the mention the starter). However, I must say that they are in sync with the theme of the restaurant and as authentic as the rest of the fare.
Al Karam is a carnivore’s paradise. It’s the mecca for meat lovers and patrons of Mughlai food in the millennium city.
Food-4/5, service4/5, Ambience 2.5/5.
Pics courtesy- Sneha Lata Saikia
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