Kareem's, East Street – Pune

After successfully running 7 outlets in Mumbai – The well known Kareem’s is now in Pune. Sadly it has replaced another one of our favorite joints – Olympia Kathi Rolls.

Not to fret, though, there is some good news. Kareem’s has retained the Olympia Kathi Roll on its menu and have the same guy cooking them. 

Olympia Kathi Rolls was almost an institution, next to Portrait Studios on East Street. One can not miss the long queue outside the restaurant in the evenings. 

Olympia serves perhaps the best Chicken Kathi Rolls outside of Kolkata. Priced at a about fifty bucks it is value for money. The piping hot paratha enriched with a generous and well cooked soft covering of beaten eggs and filled with substantial pieces of succulent spicy chicken – it tastes heavenly as you dip it in the accompanying pudina chutney and freshly sliced onion rings.

One word of caution for the delhiites: This is not the Kareem’s from Old Delhi but Mumbai so don’t go expecting something you won’t get.  

Like I mentioned, the rolls have been incorporated in the menu, but apart from the rolls the menu has a lot of other stuff too. Recommended are the Kebabs, one can choose from a dozen or so in the menu. We had Murg Kurkuri Potli’ (Rs 119) but a good idea would be to take the non- veg platter (Rs449) to sample the assortment. Also, try the unusual Indian bread on offer like the Taftan (a soft rice flour bread) or Khamiri or kulcha or lachedar Parantha (Rs29/39).



Interesting observation: Almost every price mentioned on the menu ends with a 9, Rs 99, 119, 129 and so on as if the menu belongs to a Bata shoes shop 🙂 Don’t know why … I don’t judge, I only make observations 😉

5 Must Do's while in Pune

1ne : MARZ – O – RIN

Self Service/ No Smoking/ Veg, Non-Veg – that’s what Marz-o-rin’s menu card reads. One of Pune’s most loved & known café, situated right on MG road opposite Buddhani wafers – Marz-o-rin is a must visit when in Pune.

Still maintaining the old world charm of the British, the cozy little balcony upstairs is ideal for a coffee and sandwich break. The place is a favorite with the oldies (the regulars, who come to discuss the hot topic of the day) as well as the teenage crowd out on a (low budget) date.

Famous for the Chicken Sandwiches and Milkshakes, they also serve – Burgers, Rolls, Bakes, Salads, cakes, pastries and a variety of beverages. It’s not like a regular CCD or Barista – the food is good, service is quick and the prices are still very affordable. For example, the chocolate shake at Marz-o-rin costs a mere Rs. 30 !

The beverage menu is widespread with fresh juices, hot coffee, chillers, milkshakes and falooda. The sandwiches, pizza and hot bakes are available in white and brown bread options. I had the chicken sandwich with creamy spicy mayo (best enjoyed grilled with extra mayo), chocolate milk shake (which was sweeter than what I usually have), followed by a brownie. Everything on the menu is for Rs. 30-50. Yes! Seriously. I recommend sitting on the 1st floor balcony, and spending time gazing at the passers-by on MG Road.

T2o: Burger King

Not the ‘multi-million-dollar-Burger-King’… this is Pune’s most famous Burger join … the undisputed champ of the biggest-heaviest-Juiciest- Burgers and all well within a price range of Rs. 30 to Rs. 75.

It’s a dream world for non-vegetarians with chicken burger, mutton roll, sausage surprise and the ever popular King Burger (the King Burger is a humongous steak burger). On the menu you’ll find Jumbo burgers which are of the size of a quarter-plate, dripping with mayonnaise, and I’ll bet you can’t finish one.

The place is always crowded, the service is slow, and there is no parking available near the Camp outlet… but no one seems to mind ! If you have time, little money and you are hungry… this is the cheapest and tastiest option available.

Th3ee: The German Bakery

To some the German Bakery is a ‘maybe’ in Pune, for others it’s a daily ritual, but certainly if you have been there once you’ll go there again. Frequented by travellers, Osho followers, college kids, artists, hippies, trouble-makers and everyone in between, TGB is more than just an old wooden shack in Koregaon Park.

On the menu is fresh carrot juice, cake slices, Banana Lassi, Cold coffee, Masala Chai, Fruit Cream, herb Bread and some healthy options too. The prices range from Rs. 20 to Rs 90.

Its all about great food and superb coffee, but most of all, a fabulous experience. Making friends with random people, just observing or daydreaming … it’s a place to do whatever you wanna do !

F4ur: Osho Chappals

Comfortable, Economical, Cool and Colourful, you just HAVE to pick up Osho’s while in Pune. Available in all sizes, for men & women, starting at Rs. 50/- , yup you read it right Rs. 50/-

The original osho chappals have a sole made of certain ‘chatai’ type material and has a thick velvety V shaped straps, the original color was the osho red. Now one can match every outfit with the colors available. I picked up the metallic gold & silver this time.

They don’t last very long, but you certainly won’t be wearing a 50 bucks chappal for a marathon !

Fi5e: Budani Wafers & Kayani Bakery

How can one talk about Pune and not about Chivda from Budani and the Shrewsbury buscuits from Kayani!!

They are a must buy. Budani Wafers at MG road is famous for the potato chivda (starts at Rs. 140 per kg) and cheese wafers.

And everyone knows about Pune’s most sought-after Shrewsbury biscuits from Kayani Bakery on East Street. The bakery has been a landmark since it was established by brothers Hormuz and Khodayar Irani in 1955. The Shrewsbury biscuit, which is Kayani’s flagship product, is possibly the most delicious biscuit you will ever eat. I also love there crisp wine biscuits.

The biscuits are often sold-out and both the joints have a siesta time from 2pm to 5 pm… so get in line as early as possible.

Pune di Biryani

Because of the fact that Pune has a sizeable Parsi as well as Biryani population, Pune also has a lot of really nice Biryani places. When one thinks of biryani in Pune, a couple of places pop up immediately – Dorabjee’s, Blue Nile, George just to name a few. This post is my take on them.

In the 70’s when my dad was posted at Pune, A couple of joints were his favourites. Dorabjee’s was on the top of that list for Biryani. We finally located the place after endless searching around in tiny by-lanes & twisty one-ways of Old Pune, but the food is well worth the effort.

This tiny, rundown little Iranian restaurant hasn’t changed one bit (or so it seems) in the last 20 or so years, neither in looks nor (thankfully) in taste. The menu is limited to ‘Today’s Specials’. Don’t expect top-of-the-line-extraordinaire-service, cause what you get is a no-frills service attitude – quick and simple. Almost as though everyone wants to cut to the chase, and get to the biryani asap !

They do have some other mutton and chicken dishes to choose from but unfortunately there is nothing much to eat for the vegans. We had the mutton biryani (Rs 100) which was had the typical parsi taste (not to confuse it with the Hyderabadi or Lucknawi biryani).

Although, there are 100s of variation of biryani there are 3 major types – Lucknawi (Lucknow), Hyderabadi & Iranian. What is usually passed of as Biryani in most places in India is actually Pulao. And there is a big difference between Biryani and Pulao, which most people don’t bother with.

Lucknawi Biryani is the more colourful one with the meat and rice cooked separately. Then layered as plain white rice –fried meat – masala rice – fried meat – Saffron rice. It is seasoned with dry-fruits and is not very spicy.

Hyderabadi Biryani – The meat is not fried but marinated in a paste of yogurt and spices, the layering is done with just masala rice. Neither meat nor rice is cooked prior to being layered in the Handi. This is the spiciest version of the biryani.

Iranian Biryani – Rice is separately cooked with some butter & few spices, the meat is served on top of the rice. Something like chelo kebabs, another awesome Parsi rice preparation.

In a pulao, the stock of meat forms the base and the rice is cooked with the spices so that it absorbs the flavor of the spices. There is no layering involved and the Dum technique is also not used . The Parsi Biryani is more of a pulao.

Blue Nile is another parsi place famous for biryani. I have to admit, though, I’m not a big fan of Blue Nile’s Biryani and like the other dishes more; the Iranian chicken biryani (Rs 130) is quite dry and a little bland.

They have (unfortunately) diversified into Chinese and other stuff, but the best bet are the kababs and tandoori chicken. The place smells good and the aroma of the kababs is intoxicating, and I’m sure one day I solve the mystery of what tastes as good as it smells. The one thing that you must have here is the Caramel Custard.

Both Dorabjee’s & Blue Nile are more famous because they are old, and not so much for the food. I did enjoy the experience at both the places but they didn’t come up to my expectations. After all, when you hear about the place from so may people you do expect awesome food.

George on the other hand is famous for being old & the food. I’m a bit finicky about cleanliness and only do  ‘take-away’ from here. But both my brother and husband love this place. Not only is their biryani good but the other stuff like naans and kadhai chicken are also yummy. The pan shop outside the joint is more famous than the restaurant so do indulge in a meetha pan.

Now, how can I not mention ‘Khan Bhai’, while talking about Pune Biryani. ‘Khan Bhai’ is not a restaurant. To taste this wonderful stuff one has to do a bit of hard work. Start with waking up early (to ‘book’ the biryani of course), its only sold in KG’s (abt Rs 400/kg) – one Kg is enough for 7-8 ppl, by 1pm you have to drive down to Shivaji Market area to collect it and return back to deliver the empty utensils the next day. Phew!! That’s a lot of work but trust me, it is well worth it. How do i know ? Khan Bhai’s biryani excels in the 3 biryani test – 1. The aroma test 2. The separate grain of rice test and 3. The taste Test.

Contact me to get the number for the most Fantabulous Biryani in Pune ;).