Marut Sikka’s new restaurant has an extensive wine list and is a haven for lovers of Indian cuisine.
Somehow it is becoming a bit of a family tradition that I take my wife out on her birthday to one of food impresario Marut Sikka’s signature restaurants! The unique and enchanting Magique is always a very special experience, but this year after I heard about the opening of Kainoosh, Marut’s new offering on Indian cuising, we decided to check it out.
Kainoosh itself means cocoon in Persian and one is certainly cocooned in hospitality as soon as one enters. It is conveniently located in a prime spot in the ritzy new DLF Promenade Mall, which makes parking no problem. We were welcomed by the afffable Rajesh Chatterjee, the restaurant manager, and led immediately to the next door bar, Keya. The bar is a trendy place done up in black and white, and Rajesh insisted that we try the Kainoosh signature cocktail which is a paan mojito! We were initially dubious but the drink more than lived up to its billing – wih the refreshing and unique taste that tha paan leaf gives it.
Rajesh served us the starters at Keya, bringing us an appetizing trio of tandoori prawns in three different flavours: peri-peri, coriander/fennel and cumin and chargrilled chicken tikkas. The prawns were deliciously fresh, far and succulent and literally melted in one’s mouth leaving one craving for more. And more was forthcoming in the form of the main course, which we decided to have in the secluded outside dining area, the weather still being cool enough to enjoy and al fresco evening.
In its menu selections, Kainoosh presents an interesting choice between an a la carte menu and the more traditional thali concept. The a la carte menu portions are smaller than normal, the idea being to allow diners to sample a large selection of food, but I’m not sure it works since it also runs the rish of making one feel shortchanged. However, unable to do justice to the thali, we went the a la carte route and ordered the Papad Crusted Rawas with Radish Chutney and the Chicken Shammi Kababs flavoured with Cardamom along with a selection of Rotis. The food was cooked to perfection except for the fact that one could have done with an order of plain basmati rice. The menu has only biryani selections which is rather limiting.
I opted for wine by the glass and so got to sample the Astica Torrontes from Argentina and the Caliterra Chardonnay Reserva from Chile, finishing up with a glass of Shiraz from the uniquely named Accomplice vineyard in Australia. The Astica was a little too young and fresh for my liking but the other two were well-matured and enjoyable. The wine menu is diverse and allows for a fair amount of experimentation. After dinner, we enjoyed the trio of kulfi – Aam Panna, Fig and Pistachio.
The Kainoosh interiors are very elegant and stylish in hues of sliver grey and creamy white combining tradtional details in a contemporary way. Just off the main dining area is well-appointed private dining room, Izaara, which has its own exclusive entrance and can seat ten people. I particulary liked the ambience of this room with its casual lounge seating and its own bar and music selection. Now I just need to find someone who will invite me to a private party there!
122-124, DLF Promenade Mall
Nelson Mandela Marg
Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
Ph: +91 11 4106844-50
**This article has originally appeared in the July-August 2010 edition of “Sommelier India” magazine. Check the PDF version here.