Indian restaurants

Have you ever eaten a meal when everything you ate was "excellent"? When your attempts to be objective and critical fail as you succumb to the enchanting spell of gastronomic perfection? Well, that's what seemed to occur at Kiara Soul Kitchen this afternoon. Sitting back with a refreshingly light virgin mango mojito, and perusing the menu, my friends and I observed that the new restaurant was a well conceived result of experimenting, fine-tuning and pushing the envelope to present contemporary Indian cuisine inflected with Asian flavour — restaurateurs Manav and Madhav Windlas' vision to give vegetarians interesting cuisine, crafted with fresh local produce. Interestingly, neither have a background in hospitality; they shifted tracks from a lucrative career in IT and management to hospitality, owing to a deep passion for vegetarianism, and subsequently filled the void in the culinary business for a vegetarian fine-dining restaurant.


Perusing the menu, we ordered 'Mixed Tempura Sushi' and 'Steamed Pokchoy Dumplings'. While waiting for the order to be whipped up in the show kitchen, we were served assorted breads with fennel, olive and apple-cumin hummus. I feel in love with the apple-cumin hummus and dabbed it in the pita pockets; a sumptuous beginning. Shortly, we were served dumplings — mushroom and vegetables stuffed in pok choy, instead of flour coating, and steamed. A must-have when you dine here! The tempura sushi was designed to surprise the palate with its crunchy texture. These folks know what they're doing!


Perusing the menu again for entrees as the server refilled our mango mojito, we decided on 'Shakarkandi And Kadoo Ke Kabab', 'Mock Meat Satay', 'Black Rice With Paneer' and 'Gobhi Parantha'. Kababs was served first — the sweet potato and pumpkin kabab, dabbed with a tangy tamarind dip, was juicy and flavourful. Hey! You may have noticed I've liberally used words "fresh" and "light" — it's the hallmark of the restaurant! Up next was 'Mock Meat Satay' — the soya satay was delicious comfort food. Hey, I have to admit here that I'm a hardcore carnivore but vegetarianism has never felt this exciting before!! And then the restaurant's much-awaited signature dish arrived — steamed rolls stuffed with cauliflower, over which the server poured the most sumptuous pumpkin sauce. It was an artistically presented dish and the first bite itself drew appreciative murmurs; our glazed expression spoke volumes about this 'gobhi parantha' with an ingenious twist. Though we were content, not stuffed, since it was tempered cuisine, the aroma of 'Black Rice With Paneer’ taunted us and we were intrigued by the Asian-style black rice with diced paneer; it was sumptuous! We ended luncheon at 4 with 'Paan Kulfi'; it made me appreciate the term "dessert nirvana".


Reflecting on the experience, it's easy to see why discerning foodies have a love affair with Kiara Soul Kitchen right after the first bite. It's attention to detailing whether it's the efficient service, the chic interiors or the creative vegetarian dishes. This review would be incomplete if I failed to mention that it's more than just a restaurant — it embodies the restaurateurs' nutritional philosophy that emphasises spiritual and physical health, so it's no wonder I felt a sense of elevation and completeness after lunch. Is it a wonder then that 'Kiara' means 'God's special gift'?