Colaba gets a suburban visitor

In the midst of Apollo Bunder's Mughlai moghals, suburban Kareem's made a low profile entry two months ago. The Guide finds out whether it's wise to dismiss the newbie

In a locality dominated by kebab greats, Bagdadi, Bade Miyan and Ayub, comes the visitor from out of town -- suburban restaurant chain Kareem's.

Eating out
Food: good
Service: quick
Ambience: simple

The chef prepares Zayrooni Jhinga at Kareem's; (Below) Zayrooni Jhinga,
Hyderabadi Kheema and Baida Roti. pics/ Suresh KK

Located a little further from Sassoon Docks, the tiny sit-in can accommodate a row of eaters on a narrow table placed along the right wall of the restaurant. In a nice touch, customers can watch the chef coat kebabs with marination sauce using a paintbrush and dip skewers inside a tandoor through a glass pane on their right.

For such a tiny place, the menu, like all its other outlets, is exhaustive. The Indian and Mughlai cuisine eatery offers everything from prawns to chicken and mutton in a variety of flavourful dishes.

We ordered the Hyderbadi Kheema, the Zaytooni Jhinga, and the Chicken Baida Roti (Rs 149). The Baida Roti was specially ordered to judge if Bade Miyan had reason to worry. And here's what we found -- they do. The roti, cut into square pieces, was the right kind of crusty and cooked. The chicken stuffed inside was suffused with pepper and spices.

What we liked the most was the neat presentation of the dish. Cut to perfection, each square had just the right amount of stuffing that didn't fall out or mess up the plate. Each bite had the right quantity of roti and chicken, a rather satisfying experience. Bade Miyan's Chicken Baida crumbles in comparison.

The Hyderbadi Kheema (Rs 177) was a green affair with unnecessary coriander and green chilli garnishing. We couldn't quite understand the colours of the dish, and were almost put off by it. The taste was mediocre, and the best that can be said of it is that it wasn't spicy.

If you're a kheema-loving meat eater, order the kheema pav. It may not have Stadium's spicy satisfaction, or even Good Luck's oily deliciousness, but it manages to hold its own against a host of Colaba eateries that just can't get their kheema right. We suspect the dish contained peas ground into the masala, which is just as well for the philistines who fastidiously set their peas aside on their plates. For peas, as only a migrant from Old Delhi would know, is essential to the kheema experience.

The Zaytooni Jhinga (Rs 289) earns full marks for neatness, as well. Made with zaytooni oil, extracted from a flower, the marination sauce includes garam masala and cumin seeds, which bring out the right flavours from the prawn. Don't hesitate to order this dish, unless of course, you are allergic to seafood. The dish is just as it should be -- the prawns are cooked just right and aren't chewy, the flavour infused by the sauce and the smoked tandoor taste, leaves you wanting more. The portion sizes are just right for a house party of two.

Be prepared to hear that certain dishes are not available like the Mutton Taka Tak. But the staff is friendly and ready with suggestions (they'll offer the Chicken Taka Tak and describe it for you, even). Note of caution: if you're ordering in, be prepared for the food to lose some of its taste, since it'll reach you a little cooler than you'd like.

At: Kareem's, Shop No 3 & 4, 148 A, Radha Estate, ahead of Sassoon Docks, Colaba.
Call: 22152207 / 22152208

Kareem's  didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals.

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