Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hanifia, New Town, Karachi

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـانِ الرَّحِيمِ 

There are a few names that come to mind when one thinks of vintage Karachi cuisine/food. And one of those names is Hanifia.

Although it has opened up its branches in other, newer parts of the city, the original branch (pictured above) is still next to Binori Town masjid on main Bahadur Yar Jung Road in New Town.

A Google maps screenshot for you to get a better idea about its location.

So why did we find ourselves out of our comfort zone and a little farther away inside the city on one recent night, parked in front of the above shops in New Town, Karachi?

As you can see, this is dhaba style outdoor eating in its truest, most old school sense.

Truth be told, after Ramadan ended, we were reminiscing one night about an Arab dish called "Mandi" that we had eaten and enjoyed immensely in Saudi Arabia on a recent umrah trip, and ended up discussing where we can get it in Karachi.

Turns out Hanifia does a very good Mandi, in both chicken and mutton. And has been doing so for years!

As the above photo shows, they grill the meat in three kinds of spicy marinades: red, green and white masala.

They have other foods on offer as well, most of which are available in their other branches.

They have regular BBQ and fast food fare available too.

The other items that I love at Hanifia, are its burgers - filled with fried Hunter chicken and Hunter beef meat variety, - which are rather spicy and unique in flavor (and that is why my favorite).

You won't get a burger tasting like Hanifia's anywhere else, especially since it is accompanied by their signature tangy, orange-colored sauce, and comes with a soft layer of cottage cheese in its midst.

However, the Mandi that we were craving (menu above) is available only in their original New Town outlet, not in any others.

The seating arrangement is anything but classy.

Don't expect any frills here. We went upstairs to the bare-bones "family room" above the outlet. It had an AC. :)

Mutton Mandi in lal (red) masala - Rs 900.

This is a lamb portion that is similar to the one you get when you order Mutton Ribs at BBQ Tonite. But as you can see, the price is almost half.
Chicken Mandi in hara (green) masala - Rs 700

This is not a stainless steel plate in the above photos. It is a large thali or platter.

The saffron pulao (pilaf) rice that the meat was sitting on, was long-grained basmati, and very aromatic and delicious.

The meat marinated in the hara masala was much spicier than the one with lal masala. You can see the signature orange sauce of Hanifia in the background. 

Each portion is enough for two hungry adults. Yeah, so we had leftovers. Heartily enjoyed the next day for lunch!


Halfway through the mutton Mandi. You can see the ribs.

Halfway through the Chicken Mandi. You can easily spot the hara masala (green spice marinade) in the meat.

Verdict: The piping hot grilled meats were extremely tender, and the fragrant, long-grained saffron rice was oozing with the meaty drippings. Go at it with your hands (remember to use just three fingers, though).

Suffice to say, the experience was memorable and so worth the extra mile! This Mandi is to be had. You can't miss this rare delicacy, especially at this price.

So in case you are ever craving dhaba style, delicious and fresh food, then this is the place to dine. The traffic is dense and chaotic nearby, but there is an ironic sense of peace around the New Town mosque as well. 

FYI All the eateries and shops shut down for prayer breaks, as all the laborers staffing them head off to pray, so you might have to wait a bit if you arrive just before or during prayer times. Or you can just pray with them and eat afterwards. :)

There are also numerous ice cream and cake shops around this outlet of Hanifia for those who crave dessert.