Croissants and curry in Karachi: A no-brainer?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for most of us, and yet many of us still do not realize the word and the meal have particular relevance in the Muslim world — the breaking of the fast, especially during the month of Ramadan, from where it originates.

I am also a breakfast fan and ensure I have a healthy start to the day, beginning with a good workout followed by fresh fruit, a few grains, a few carbs, some energizing protein and a pot of green tea before I head down to the hotel lobby each morning at 8 a.m., where I like to meet and greet my guests personally as they arrive for a truly international breakfast experience.

We are extremely fortunate in that we have a wonderfully open and spacious restaurant for breakfast, which catches the golden rays of sunlight in the early mornings and overlooks a deep blue swimming pool, lush gardens and a cascading fountain where many local birds fly in to enjoy an early morning bath, which is a calming and perfectly natural sight many of our avid bird watchers enjoy as they munch on their crisp and crunchy toast, fresh griddled pancakes, just-out-of-the-oven croissants and baguettes, freshly prepared naan breads, roti, chapattis and delicious Pakistani curries. 

I really enjoy this hour as I walk around the busy restaurant while chatting with my guests, checking steaming hot dim sum baskets and the contents of the various hot and cold buffets with a vast array of exotic items, most of which our foreign and local guests do not normally associate with breakfast.

Brain masala
Brain masala

Amongst the local specialties on the hot buffet are favorites such as spiced spinach and cottage cheese curry, white chicken seekh kebabs, beef kofta curry, quail egg curry, Lahori fried fish, an extensive vegetarian curry section and the most unusual dish of all, buffalo brain masala, which is a favorite not only with my local guests, but also with adventurous foreign guests eager to try an extreme taste of Pakistan.

What is really interesting for me is to observe what various guests from all the different countries order and eat, which proves there is no science whatsoever attached to breakfast preferences. It all comes down to what you see and smell right under your nose when you are really hungry in a strange and foreign land.

For example, while many of our Japanese guests prefer to stay with their Japanese breakfast specialties prepared by our Japanese chefs, many others go for western favorites such as smoked turkey bacon or pan-fried mini steaks with fried eggs on a waffle, but all stay well away from the spicy local curries.

Then there are other Asian guests, including Chinese, some of whom enjoy our freshly prepared congee and dim sum, while many others also go with western favorites, including our home-smoked salmon set on top of lightly scrambled eggs and our spicy chicken sausages, which seem to be a big hit taken with hash browns, mushrooms, fried eggs and Heinz baked beans.

Many of my British guests start with a juice and a cereal and then go with their “full English” and large pots of tea, toast and marmalade.

Then there are my food-loving, fun-loving adventurous American guests, the vast majority of whom love to tuck into the meaty Pakistani curries, with the brain masala high on their list of favorites. In fact, we even have some foreign guests asking us at the time of reservation if their favorite dish of curried brain will be on the menu during their stay.

One of my regular American guests, whom I will call JW, loves to fill a large soup plate with the curried brain, which he mops up with three or four large croissants, washed down with a pint of fresh fruit and a mango and yogurt smoothie. He says this sets him up for the day — or perhaps a date with his cardiologist.

When I write to many of my guests asking about their stay, I always insert a question about their breakfast experience and ask what it was they noticed and enjoyed most. Many mention the big smiles of our breakfast shoe shiner, our breakfast hostess, the amazing smells of sizzling turkey bacon and fresh coffee brewing as they enter the restaurant, some mention the birds bathing, and nearly everyone mentions the high quality and truly international variety of our breakfast buffet, which for them and for me is the most important meal of the day in many respects.

Would you be a “no brainer” at breakfast in Karachi, or would you take the chance and discover a true taste of extreme and exotic Pakistan?