Thank you Culture Club!! I had these song lyrics stuck in my head as I was eating dinner this past weekend at KARMA Restaurant in Old City! :O)
“Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon
You come and go, you come and go
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams
Red, gold, and green, red, gold, and green…”
First of all – this place is in a cool part of town. What I love about the Old Town City District is that if you’re in the mood for any type of food – there will be a place for you. Afghani, Cheesesteaks, Thai, Indian, Bar Food, Ice-cream, etc. And I love seeing people just chill out at the outside tables either alone or with a group and just eat, drink, relax the night away! Almost feels like everyone is on vacation over there. :O)
My chance to hang out in Old Town came because I had heard about an Indian restaurant there, that was pretty popular with the locals and after checking out some menu pics online out of curiosity, I decided to go.
The first thing I saw when I walked up to KARMA restaurant was a sign geared toward people who were trying Indian food for the first time. I thought it was a cute idea and it had a great “1st time” menu suggestion from appetizers all the way to dessert. How many times have we all gone to a restaurant for the first time and had no clue what to order? And then we finally “try” something new and realize we don’t like it or have no clue what it is? So Kudos to KARMA on helping alleviate any unnecessary stress with know what to order as a first-timer! :O)
We finally walk in and are led down a long hallway toward the back of the restaurant where the seating is and it’s all red walls with colorful abstract paintings all over. In the background modern Bollywood film songs are playing and people are just chatting away – some more louder than others and feeling the need to share their past sins and business/family issues with everyone around them! LOL :O) (But it happens..)
We start off our evening as “Experienced Indian Food Consumers” by ordering Chicken 65 and Samosa Chaat for our appetizers. For drinks, we got the Passion Fruit Martini and Mango Lassi.
The Chicken 65 was very similar to what I make at home, except not as spicy. It was crispy, well seasoned chicken breast chunks cooked with curry leaves. It tasted like a fried version of Tandoor chicken. Not bad – I’d order it again, but just spicier next time.
Samosa Chaat was a bit of a disappointment for me. I was expecting it to be a little more seasoned with spices and with some medium heat like most “chaat” dishes. I felt like it was missing some flavors – that sweet, salty, spicy taste most familiar in indian samosa dishes. And usually, the dish has a yogurt sauce and a garlic sauce on it, but both were not in this one. It was just Okay – not something I’d order again at this place.
The Mango Lassi on the other hand was really great! It was sweet, creamy and full of delicious mango flavor. I’ve had a lot of mango lassi’s in the past that had some extra flavoring in it that, in my opinion, overpowered that perfect mango flavor. This time KARMA kept the lassi sweet, simple and delicious. Plus, nothing beats the August heat than a cold drink – so this was a thumbs up in my book.
Unfortunately, the Passionfruit Martini, was a must- pass for me. It was more alcohol and less passionfruit flavor (I know some people prefer it like this..lol). It just didn’t have a good balance between alcohol and fruit flavor and it had a weird grayish color that reminded me of “mud.” If you’re looking for something sweeter – this isn’t the drink for you. (But thankfully, I had my mango lassi as my backup drink – haha.)
Alright, so by now I’m a bit worried cause my appetizers and drinks were just “okay.” And my drink wasn’t something I was too happy about either. I just want to enjoy the food and finally order dinner.
Here’s what we ordered: Butter Chicken, Malai Kofta, Goan Fish Curry, and Garlic Naan (all spicy). All dishes were served with Basmati Rice.
What a surprise! KARMA is definitely a Chameleon! :O)
The Butter Chicken was just how its supposed to be…sweet, creamy, spicy and full of large tender chunks of tandoori marinated chicken. And because I ordered spicy, it tasted even better to me. When the Indian girl needs water from the heat – its good! LOL
Malai Kofta was different than what I’ve usually had in the past. If you’re not familiar with this dish – its spicy and seasoned veggie meatballs in a buttery, creamy sauce. Its really delicious when made right. This time, the chef made the veggie meatballs with paneer (curd cheese) and spicy potatoes – it was actually a nice change. And the sauce was perfectly seasoned and had a wonderful, creamy texture that was great with both naan and rice. Definitely recommend trying this dish next time you’re at an Indian restaurant. Its also a great alternative to satisfy that “meat-craving” without the meat because of the veggie meatballs.
The Goan Fish Curry had tender chunks of Tilapia in it with a sauce made from coconut milk, curry leaves and other South Indian style spices in it. In a nutshell – delicious! Sometimes fish can get tough and chewy when it sits in sauces too long, but not this one. The sauce was really great and I know the coconut milk made the difference. It was creamy, perfectly balanced heat and not overly heavy despite the richness of the ingredients. Another win in my book!
And lastly, I just have to say that the 1 Garlic Naan we ordered was the size of Michael Jordans sneaker! It was HUGE! Garlic Naan is my favorite type of bread to have with most of my Indian foods at restaurants and this one didn’t disappoint at all. It was hot, buttery, soft texture with those delicious little crispy bubbles. And the amount of garlic added didn’t overpower, it just enhanced the naan.
So all in all – I really enjoyed my dinner at KARMA!!
They really do have a lot of great menu items available for all. Most of their dishes are interchangeable with other meats, seafoods or vegetables. Your server can tell you some good suggestions about which dishes are best “interchanged” and which are not. They also have a good selection of “Indian-style Salads” for anyone looking for an lighter option. The Tandoor Shrimp Salad and the Chicken Tikka Salad definitely caught my eye when I was looking at the menu. What a great way to fuse Indian flavors into a healthy salad option! I will have to try both of them next time I’m in town – possibly for lunch!
Even though my appetizers and drinks weren’t the best in my experience, I have to say the main courses were a pleasant surprise and well worth the trip. I left KARMA happy, belly full, and a nice doggy bag with leftovers for the next day!
For more information on the restaurant and their menu, check out their website at http://www.karmaphiladelphia.com
Let me know your thoughts if you happen to go there too! Would love to hear your suggestions for dishes to try next time and any other feedback! :O)