Delhi Finally Has A Vegetarian Restaurant It Can Keep Going Back To
Restaurant: Kiara Soul Kitchen
Address: M-30, M-Block Market, First Floor, Greater Kailash-II
Cuisine: Inventive Asian Vegetarian
Meal for Two: Rs 2,200/=. Awaiting Liquor Licence.
Dial: (011) 4036 7904
Timings: 12:30 PM to 03:30 PM; 07:30 PM to 11:30 PM
THE OTHER DAY, as I was listing my go-to ‘North Indian’ (Mughlai/Punjabi) restaurants for the benefit of a good friend, she stopped me mid-way to ask if any of these restaurants offered anything other than the unholy quartet of aloo-gobhi-paneer-maa ki dal. I could only think of Kwality’s Pindi chana and bhatura combo.
Indian restaurants, surprisingly for a country everyone regards as vegetarian, are infamously unimaginative about their shakahari offerings, although some of the country’s biggest spenders on food are unapologetically vegetarian, some even staying away from onions, garlic, potatoes and mushrooms. Yet, there’s clearly a market for vegetarian restaurants, a fact established by the success of Carnatic Cafe, which brought the original flavours of Udipi to our city, and then of Burma Burma, which has proved that you don’t even have to offer an Indian menu to stay in the business of vegetarian food.
Kiara Soul Kitchen, at the M-Block Market, Greater Kailash-II, is a heartening new addition to this minuscule list. The restaurant is the labour of love of two brothers, Manav and Madhav Windlass, sons of the financial guru and telecoms industry pioneer Ashwani Windlass. Driven by their dream of running a restaurant where they would like to eat out as a family, the Windlass brothers gave up comfortable corporate jobs and spent three months with their chef, Siddharth Chogle (IHM-Aurangabad, Taj, The Oberoi and Cesar Ritz, Switzerland), to create what I predict will grow up to become a durable, scalable go-to restaurant chain.
It’s food that makes Kiara work. After an introductory conversation over makhana (fox nut) poppers and pickled zucchini (a happy alternative to standard welcome appetisers such as papad, prawn crackers and sirkewaali pyaaz), I launched my Kiara experience with a robust Indonesian Tomato Minestrone (redolent of spices and coming with a liberal helping of barley to introduce a refreshingly different texture than what you’d normally encounter in soups).
It was followed by a Fruity Dates Salad, drizzled with fresh orange juice, the dates packed with feta cheese, and Vietnamese Rolls, where the austere freshness and crunchiness of the farm-to-fork vegetable strips inside the rolls were perked up by the accompanying spicy peanut sauce. For mains, I had the visually delightful Gobhi Parantha (That’s Not A Gobhi Parantha) served with a pumpkin sauce that sends your palate into a state of high excitement, and a Bao Bhaji, where the traditional pav is replaced by a Chinese bao to add a dollop of excitement to the popular street food item. And for dessert, we had the most delightful reinvention of the date pancake — the date mash being wrapped around the pancake casing and served on a pool of cranberry sauce.
Excitingly different food, yet not over the top. It’s just the kind of offering that will make vegetarians feel like they finally have a restaurant they can go to.