Kinara at Holland Village (A Review)

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[This is a review commissioned by yum.sg in January 2007.While this blog was reimbursed for the meal, there was no other payment. Yes, yes this blog occasionally does reviews.]

North Indian cuisine is both fascinating and delicious. Most people would think of Tandoori Chicken, and Naan when it comes to North Indian food, but it is so much more.

For starters, there are six main schools of Northern Indian cooking, they are: Kashmiri (famous for elaborate banquets and the Rogan Josh), Punjabi (Dairy-based, mostly vegetarian), Rajasthan (Gram flour- or Besan-based cuisine), Uttar Pradesh (jalebis, kachoris and pethas), Awadh style (tender meat dishes) and Lucknow (Biriyanis!)

No, North Indian cuisine is not just Roti Prata.

Which brings us to Kinara. There are two; one in Boat Quay and one, the original, in Holland Village. Kinara was started in 1993 by Parvinder Singh, who has since sold off Kinara to concentrate on other businesses.

On passing the door from the harsh sunlit Lorong Mambong, one is transported into a cool and serene dining room. It is full of textures from the simple dining sets to the rough unfinished concrete walls.

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I was quickly shown my seat in a private booth with the service staff enquiring about my heat (spice-wise) tolerance level. As I was not prepared to have my tastebuds numbed so early in the afternoon, I said it wasn’t very high.

The restaurant manager then made an appearance and started to recommend various items on the extensive menu that would suit my tastes. Kinara serves Kashmiri and Punjabi food and there are a lot of vegetarian options that looked really good.

After a brief discussion where the restaurant manager tried to steer me towards safer, less spicy foods, I ordered a Jaljeera to refresh myself. This raised the eyebrows of the manager who tried his hardest to dissuade me from ordering it as it is “a very spicy drink”.

Jal Jeera

And very spicy it was; it gives a huge kick. Made predominately from Cumin, Cilantro and Mint, this salty sweet (I tasted rock salt) and spicy drink was just the stuff to refresh and kick-start any palate. And yes, if you are not used to strongly-spiced drinks, take a small sip first. 🙂

The Shahjahani Paneer Tikka ($12.50+++) arrived first. With a description that says “The Romantic Emperors favourite dish made up of cottage cheese & pineapple mixed with exotic herbs & cooked in a traditional Indian clay oven”, you cannot help but order it.

Shahjahani Paneer Tikka

It was excellent. The cottage cheese was thick and savoury like Tau Kua (compressed beancurd) and slightly crisp. It was the perfect counterpoint to the sweet thick chunks of caramelized Pineapple and the raw sweetness of the bell peppers.

Shahjahani Paneer Tikka

The Rogan Josh ($17+++) was also really good with large tender chunks of lamb mildly spiced. Basmati rice was recommended for it, but I read that steamed unflavoured rice is usually avoided by the Punjabs because it is meant for sick people, besides its the Naans and Parathas that Punjab is famous for.

Rogan Josh

One such example is the Lachna Paratha ($4+++), a whole wheat flatbread or pancake that is satisfyingly chewy and goes very well with the heavily spiced dishes like the Shanami Matar ($11.50+++), a casserole of mushrooms and peas.

Lachna Paratha Shabnami Matar

While soft drinks are available, the drink of choice at Kinara should be the Lassi. There are two kinds: Sweet and Salty. I loved both, but the sweet Lassi was most appealing. And for someone with a weak stomach (like me), most cleansing.

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Finally dessert. I chose the Pista Kulfi which I think was a mistake. It was basically pistachios in ice cream made from fermented milk. Nevertheless, sweet sweet Lassi came to the rescue.

Pista Kulfi

Lunch at Kinara was very pleasant. The decor is simple yet comfortable, reflecting the straight-forward nature of the Northern Indians. The service was friendly and very helpful. And the food was great: simple but hearty fare. This is the first time I had a (mostly) vegetarian meal and was stuffed.

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Posted on 7th May 2007 in Food and Drink, Indian

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There Are 2 Comments

 

oz new visitor commented on May 9, 2007 at 1:20 am


OMG, i was craving for some teochew pork jellies and came across this excellent website! can i be your makankaki? lol! *drooling*


 

Ivan commented on May 13, 2007 at 7:59 pm


@oz new visitor: Thanks! Pork jellies are a Good Thing. Wanna join in the Makankaki fun? Sign up here: http://www.makansutra.com/forums/singapore/viewforum.php?f=2

or

http://slowfoodsingapore.com/?page_id=22


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