Wednesday, September 17, 2014

the new Al Karam at Satya Niketan : whipping up old Delhi food with a new fervor

Food from the streets of Old Delhi is not just food in the physical sense. It is a tradition that has lived on and evolved over generations. It is the root stock for the modern fusion cuisine, infusing flavours into new techniques of cooking and new ingredients may be. But the old school cooks of old Delhi still cook their food the traditional way, the spices are milled and ground and the meat is cut and pounded exactly the way it was done a century ago, or even before.

You would feel the honesty in the food once you take a bite. And that happens when you eat at Al Karam. The original Al Karam is located in the Matia Mahal street but somehow it couldn't catch up with the magnanimous popularity of it's neighbors Karim's and Al-Jawahar. Al Karam got a new lease of life when a young restaurateur gave them a chance to showcase their food at Gurgaon (DLF phase 4 market) and now at Satya Niketan market too. The food and portions at the Satya Niketan market is made to suit young students and families both. They have two separate menus for students and others. I found the newly opened Al Karam at Satya Niketan quite basic yet peppy in it's energy.

They have introduced a few exotic dishes like roast Quail and Emu but the cooking methods are traditional.

While the food is heavy and rich, you don't feel too stuffed if you keep your portions under control. The gilafi kabab was as good as we had tasted last time. These foods keep calling you back to them.

We loved this Quail roast so much not just for the taste but for how it looks. That tiny little bird swimming in a butter rich sauce. This is the first time I 'liked' quail by the way.

This Butter cream chicken was good. I was reminded of how we have seen people almost drowning in huge bowls of this butter cream laden chicken in Matia Mahal, all polished off with roomali roti. This one was a close imitation of the original, I think the curd used was a little bit too sour. I am sure they would have taken care of it by now.

This Hakeemi chicken was something I was tasting for the first time and it was good. With hints of fenugreek and ginger, the creamy gravy is laden with nut paste as well. Quite a balanced bouquet of flavours.

 Umm...and the haleem is so yummy too. We are planning to get haleem packed from there sometime soon. We have had better haleem than this but Al Karam haleem is quite good on it's own too, robust and yet light.

Robustness you have to see in the buff nihari they serve. I think they serve mutton nihari mostly and the buff nihari is served on request. We loved every bit of it although we have had better nihari with marrow thrown into it in the streets of Nizamuddin.

The best thing we tasted was the roasted duck. This is something I would call the signature dish of Al Karam Satya Niketan. Very well cooked moist pieces of duck, charred well and the spice coating is so well balanced too.

This is one of those dishes I would be reminded of whenever I would dig into some duck. Did I tell you I don't normally like duck much :-)

Doused in old traditions the dusk gets a new makeover. Although the makeover could not do much to Emu meat. I wouldn't eat emu meat again, too tough and doesn't take the flavours well. Useless meat. Do you think I will change my opinion on Emu meat?

I still have a lot of favourites at Al Karam. Will keep getting take-aways from there. Honestly good food at affordable prices I must add.

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