Fajr is the day’s first Prayer for Muslims; it brings positivity and concentration for the day. Nihar, which means a day in Urdu, derives the name for the first meal – Nihari – after Fajr. Nihari is traditionally a spicy mutton stew cooked for hours by cooks; the verses of Quran are read and learnt while Nihari cooks by surrounding the pot of Nihari. The sharpness of Mustard oil, striking flavours of spices with three different notes in it: earthy, aromatic, and pungent and lace of ‘Atta’ creates the ideal Nihari. Only traditional, well-trained, and experienced chefs/cooks can bring all the above vital elements to Nihari and make it a delectable as well as rustic. Kareem’s team of chefs and cooks doesn’t disappoint in any of the above aspects, though they don’t use Mustard Oil. Nihari devoid of Mustard oil cannot be called ‘traditional’, but Kareem’s Nihari is loaded with flavours, so it’s acceptable. The oil creates a ground for any dish, and the right choice of oil for the right flavour of the dish is utterly essential. When many Indian eateries are trying to impress the non-resident Indians and non-Indians in Abu Dhabi with Australian or New Zealand lamb in Indian cuisine, Kareem’s management has not forgotten its roots and use Indian lamb in Nihari. Classics should not be altered!
After success in Mumbai, Kareem’s restaurant has opened its doors for Abu Dhabi residents in mid-October 2020. Kareem’s rustic and rich Mughlai cuisine is prevalent in Mumbai’s F&B market, and it’s ready to impress Abu Dhabi’s Culinary connoisseur. Let it be poultry, seafood, meat, or vegetarian, Kareem’s every dish is crafted carefully and leaves a substantial impact on the palate. The Smoky Tandoori dishes are strong in flavours and remind the Dhaba-style preparation of Kababs.
Lasooni Palak represents only two ingredients in its name: Lasoon (Garlic) and Palak (Spinach), and the number of spices binding these two elements are playing a vital role behind the curtain. Kareem’s Lasooni Palak is smoky, flavourful, satisfying, and rustic. The acidic and robust flavours of spinach are vanished by cooking Lasooni Palak with cream, spices, and abundance of garlic and the high-flamed cooking make it smoky. A garnish of burnt garlic makes the Lasooni Palak rustic in flavours; it’s highly recommended to Vegetarians who want to enjoy the Mughlai flavours in Vegetables. The Paneer preparation is average in Kareem’s; perhaps the quality of paneer that impacts the flavours.
When it comes to Biryani, we all turn connoisseurs. Like ‘single malt’ snobs, we now have biryani snobs. Then there are ‘biryani wars’ – my Biryani is better than yours. Kolkata biryani lovers will swear their Biryani, improvised with potatoes by Wajid Ali Shah’s resourceful cook, is an improvement over the original Awadh (Lucknow) biryani. Whereas, the Hyderabad gentry will insist that their Biryani is the ultimate in culinary evolution. Well, Biryani has common threads in it – Rice and Spices and any chef should not cut these threads. Lucknow’s Awadh Biryani – which is purely in Mughlai style, is served in Kareem’s. The sharp flavours of spices, the richness of Basmati rice, and aroma of saffron (jhol) makes the Kareem’s Biryani and irresistible affair with Mughlai cuisine.
Mughlai cuisine’s desserts are regal and aromatic. The subtle flavours of ingredients with essence of rose and nuttiness of dry fruits make Mughlai desserts a special treat. Halwa is a dessert that was originated in Turkey, and it was sophisticated by Mughals in India. The coastal cities in India and Pakistan, Kozikhode and Karachi respectively, both of which produce a gelatinous (made with refined flour/cornflour) version of the halwa, has given India and (current) Pakistan halwa. Both the ports – Kozhikode and Karachi were amongst the earliest to have Arab influence, through trade, and their food histories are therefore quite inextricable from many of those traditions. Kozhikode, in fact, had the famous SM Street-“sweetmeat” street, as it was named by the British, after its halwa shops; the halwa itself referred to as ‘meat’ because of its texture. The kind of Arab-influenced halwa is quite distinct in texture, however, to the traditions which came in later, influenced by the sophistication of the Mughals, when innovations happened with the availability of a wider variety of ingredients: floral extracts, milk, and dry fruits.
Kareem’s Gajar Halwa and Dudhi Halwa are classic Mughlai desserts; the choice of carrots in Gajar halwa and additional crunch of bottle gourd in Dudhi halwa are some noticeable flaws, but Kareem’s cannot be blamed for it. As identifying the excellent quality of bottle gourd is tricky; the superb appearance of bottle gourd cannot guarantee superior quality. However, Kareem’s team make efforts to choose the right bottle gourd and using the Khoya to cook it saves the Dudhi Halwa. Similarly, traditional Gajar Halwa is red in colour due to red Indian carrots (which are seasonal and available for a limited time in UAE), and Kareem’s Gajar halwa is orange as it uses the Australian carrots. This alteration doesn’t represent the traditional Gajar Halwa – in Indian style. However, similar to Dudhi Halwa, Khoya makes the Gajar Halwa a decent dessert.
Where halwas are slightly flawed, Malai Firni is prepared to the perfection in Kareem. Melt-in-mouth texture, light and fantastic rose flavour, and gratifying nature of malai (clotted cream) are addictive and excellent elements of Kareem’s Malai Firni. After finishing the savoury and rustic Mughlai main course, Malai Firni is a dash of subtleness and gratification of senses.
By optimizing the limited space, Kareem’s management has set the opulent yet simple interiors for the restaurant. With the availability of local resources and materials, Kareem’s kitchen team has curated an impressive menu (better than Mumbai’s Kareem’s). With minuscule flaws in dishes and perfection to service, Kareem’s Abu Dhabi shall be a competitive player in the F&B market of Abu Dhabi too.
Location:Opposite Cristal Hotel, Near KM Trading, Electra Street, Madinat Zayed, Abu Dhabi