On our first night at JA Lake View Hotel, we dined at Kinara by highly acclaimed celebrity Indian chef, author and Bollywood actor Vikas Khanna.
I had the pleasure of dining with Chef Khanna a couple of years ago at his award-winning restaurant Junoon. Handsome as he is charismatic, he has harnessed his talent at recreating Indian classics with much panache and ease, and I was therefore very excited to try his menu at Kinara.
‘Kinara’ translates to ‘by the water’, an apt name for a restaurant located in JA Lake View Hotel although we were by the private pool and not the lake.
Kinara is a sensory exploration of Indian gastronomy with a clever, modern twist. Walking into the restaurant is a treat in itself with its artistic interiors inspired by the spice bazaars of India and the open kitchen giving diners a glimpse into the magic that goes into the creations on their plates.
Given the beautifully breezy weather, we dined alfresco on the terrace of Kinara where rows of flamboyant flames blazed through the night.
The staff here are very well-versed on the menu, and go into great detail on each and every dish almost in parrot fashion. This can be a little daunting, especially when all the details are already in writing in the menu itself.
We started off the meal with an amuse bouche called Panchnama, a dumpling made of five types of lentils and sitting pretty on a puddle of sweet chutney.
For our drinks, we were recommended the Thandai, a refreshingly cool muddle of watermelon and fresh cucumber.
For our starters, I went for the Shakarkandi Ki Chaat. This is a clever twist on the traditional potato chaat as it uses sweet potato that has been smoked with sandalwood, and regular yoghurt has been replaced with Arabic labneh and enhanced with a special strawberry-ginger dressing. This was a delicious start to the meal.
Farasha loves salmon, and opted to try the Tandoori Lemon Salmon. Beautifully plated, the salmon is made to look like a delicate, exotic flower of sorts and was swiped clean off the plate before the word go. The speed of its disappearance assures me it was delicious!
We also ordered a platter of Chicken Momos. Given these are Vikas Khanna momos, they have been revamped with a meatier chicken filling and served with a tomatillo olive salsa on the side. And how pretty is the garnish of passionfruit pearls that pop in the mouth!
For our mains, we had a very delicious seafood curry inspired from Goan cuisine. This was Chef Vikas Khanna’s version of Tamarind Prawns, a fiery brown curry that played a sensual mix of tart and hot on the palate. We scooped it clean with fluffy hot garlic buttered naan.
For our desserts round, Farasha went for the Kinara Sundae featuring mango ice-cream, fresh fruits, jujups and dry fruit. This came on a beautifully presented platter, complete with an edible chocolate lotus.
I went for the Kinara Saffron Rose Pudding. Loaded with exotic Indian flavors, this dessert features a wobbly rose and saffron flavored pudding that sits on a generous dollop of rose petal jam, and is doused with banana caramel sauce and crunchy, caramelized nuts. Farasha was enchanted with the wee bit of edible gold foil on my pudding, and attacked it with much gusto.
Overall, Kinara by Vikas Khanna was an absolute treat! As always, Chef Khanna has managed to revamp Indian favorites without forgoing their original vibrancy of flavors. Kudos Chef, I am excited to see what you come up with next.