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PERFECT PRAWNS At Kainoosh
PERFECT PRAWNS At Kainoosh

Kainoosh gives a new facet to contemporary Indian cuisine

Malls mellow individuality. Restaurants in malls may have climbed up the cool ladder, but are often cramped by lulling uniformity. Dim lights reign here and there is hardly a crack of a window to view the world beyond. Yet Kainoosh's prized point is its location. Perched in a mall, it manages an identity beyond it. Cocooned in a nook of DLF Promenade, it allows sunshine and darkness to seep in through its jaali-worked curtains preceding the semi-circular glass walls. The motifs on the curtains are intrinsically Indian and so is the cuisine.

The menu is a tribute to owner Marut Sikka's enduring affair with Indian cuisine. It rolls out his masterpieces — traditional recipes tweaked to woo the modern palate. Sikka has conceptualised starters to be an elaborate ceremony. The portions are diminutive, but priced such that you can nibble on an array of them. The traditional thali doesn't slap together all that the kitchen has dished out that day. You can put together your thali, choosing six accompaniments to the breads.

I begin with a chaat of gram flour coated spinach and chilli moong. A fine offer, the spinach crackles and moong gives it a new texture. Whole of chicken leg with apricot chilli, roti wrapped and roasted is worth singing a paean to. Apricot and chicken may not be mates in traditional Indian cuisine, but here they strike an enduring bond. The spice grants chicken richness, makes it fierce. But the real surprise is the daftan — the light wrapping on the leg which makes a bristling cover. It rustles on touch and gently gives way to the chicken.

Tandoori smoked tiger prawns with spring onion, curry leaves and coriander speaks of many influences finding harmony here. The prawns don't intimidate with their size and are nicely tamed in the tandoor. Curry leaves and spring onion give it a facelift. Steamed pomfret fillets with coconut mint and chilli chutney raise expectations, but don't live up to it. The mint blanket smothers the fish and what is left after a bite is a floodgate of mint.

Trio of fish tikka comes with three chicken chunks marinated differently with balchao, kashundi and ajwaini. Fish is supple — balchao, the Goan sauce gives it a sweet sour, pickle-like tang, kashundi, the mustard paste hits off an instant rapport with the fish.

For the vegetarians, the choice includes paneer supreme, grilled aubergine, apple wood smoked corn, miniature roomali rolls stuffed with mushroom and pine nut, sesame coated and pan fried.

The thali boasts a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes to go with a variety of breads — kulcha, missi roti, chilli parantha among others. Chilli parantha, meanwhile, lives up to its name. The raita of crispy okra, yoghurt, curry leaves and mustard is pleasant. Arhar dal with raw mango juice, roast garlic and leek tempering, somehow doesn't rise above its household character.

I bravely venture in for bitter gourd with peanut jaggery stuffing and tomato masala and end up being happy with myself. The sedate karela shows all it needs is a little dare from the chef and it is willing to throw a surprise. With all the unusual company it has, it shows different character here. Cubes of lamb with saffron, cardamom and almond paste works well, the meat is tender.

A pleasing find is sea bass paupiettes, sea bass mousse with pomegranates and yoghurt mace gravy. Bass seem to like well its Indian incarnation here. The dum-cooked biryani with Rajasthani ghatta is satisfactory. Among desserts a platter of warm rabarhi, nolin gurhe and assorted mithai is a decent finish.

Kainoosh

Ground floor

DLF Promenade

Meal for two 2500 plus taxes, minus alcohol

P. ANIMA

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