Tuesday May 21st, 2024
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From Pakistan With Love: London’s Karak & Co. Lands in Egypt

This Indian restaurant is a family’s love reconfigured.

Layla Raik

From Pakistan With Love: London’s Karak & Co. Lands in Egypt

The name ‘Karak & Co.’ may, at first, evoke images of saffron biscuits, aromatic herb combinations that add up to other Karak-adjacent drinks (Masala and Adan, for example), or, at most, a cartoonish vision of dancing cardamom beans. At least, that is how it looked in our brains before sitting down with Karak & Co. founders Ayyub and Ibrahim Asif. It was then that we realised, this Karak spot was so much more than a winter drink destination - it was a fully-fledged Indian dining experience rooted in, as Dom Torreto would put it, family. 

The story does not, in fact, begin in Cairo.

It all started when Mohammed Asif, the first Asif to venture into the F&B industry, decided to bring an authentic taste of South Asia to London in 2003. Having migrated to London from Pakistan, Asif longed to populate the city with more vibrant flavours. 

Growing up, Ayyub and Ibrahim watched their father run a restaurant chain speckled throughout London, awed at how contagious their love for their homeland was. Everyone seemed to like the exuberant flavours of Pakistani cuisine, the freshness their restaurant chain committed relentlessly to and the unexpected diet-friendliness of their food. It was a creation for the health gurus, gym bros and culinary journeyers all in one. 

In a twist of fate, Ayyub and Ibrahim’s Moroccan-Pakistani roots landed them in… Cairo. Here they saw a unique opportunity to populate the Cairene dining scene with authentic Pakistani food made from scratch, with the cleanest possible ingredients, some getting imported all the way from the UK. Talk about commitment. 

“I’ve had Indian food and Karak in Egypt, but It’s never authentic. I've been in Egypt for 17 years now and there isn’t anyone who does it quite like we do,” Ayyub Mohammed Asif tells SceneEats.

And so, Karak & Co. was born. A restaurant that prioritises freshness above all. 

“Everything we create is made freshly in the shop. The Karak tea is always brewed from scratch, with fresh cardamom, black tea and rich creamer. Our second speciality dish, the chicken tikka wrap is grilled in a flurry of home-prepared spices on lava rocks, then served on a bed of freshly-mixed sauces in homemade paratha.”

In their commitment to spotlighting the integrity of their cuisine, Karak & Co. have, unnoticing, created a menu the likes of which cannot be found elsewhere. Where else could you find Pakistani food whose every note of flavour carries years of heritage and the love of a family?