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For the Feast post the fast

From regular platters to nutritious innovative dishes, three new restaurants cater to all those who prefer vegetarian food

“I turn vegetarian for a few days in the year and we thought of trying this new place,” smiles a diner at Kiara, a vegan restaurant located in the plush Greater Kailash II market. While for many like him, turning vegetarian for a couple of weeks is related to Pitra Paksha and Navratras, for others it’s a way of life. Maybe this is why Kiara isn’t the only restaurant which has opened in the recent months in the capital. There’s Swad Desh Videsh Ka and Burma Burma opened its third outlet in Noida’s DLF Mall of India.

Traditionally, Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chains such as Bikanerwala, Haldiram’s and BTW have ruled the vegetarian market in India. But a report, on the growing Food and Beverage (F&B) segment, ‘Food for Thought’ (April 2018) , states.

“Indian cuisine is evolving with restaurants specialising in Oriya, Bengali, North Eastern, Tibetan, Chettinad and Awadhi cuisine. A couple of years ago, such cuisines were restricted to their region/city of origin”.

In December 2017, Charlotte Pointing had predicted the rise of plant-based food in a blog post on livekindly.co: “It seems chefs in 2018 will be serving up more vegan food, which will provide healthier options for customers…. The trend has been labelled ‘Meatless is Going Mainstream’ and the chefs from around the globe believe it will be in the top six food trends for 2018.”
While we weren’t looking for any particular cuisine or trend, we did find some interesting plant-based and meatless offerings in these three restaurants.

Kiara: The Soul Kitchen
A passion project started by two enthusiastic siblings—Manav and Madhav Windlass—Kiara’s dishes centre around the mantra ‘purity, mindfulness and innovation’. “Farm fresh produce, locally sourced ingredients and ample nutritional value,” Manav explains the concept. Comprising around 50 dishes, the menu has been inspired by Asian dishes. So, there’s a burst of flavours from the vast region and the entire meal is as light as a pea. While there are some exotic ingredients, most of the dishes are regular vegetables turned into delicious pieces of edible art such as Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Galette or Teppan Grilled Cauliflower Rolls with Pumpkin Curry. While the galette (pancake) comes on a bed of tangy tamarind sauce, the rolls are inspired by gobhi paratha.

On crafting an innovative menu, Chef Siddharth Chogle says, “I began by checking things closer home. I am from Maharashtra, so the Bao Bhaji was inspired by that.” With three kinds of bao, the bhaji is minus the potatoes, has coconut froth and a dash of lemon butter and caramelised onions. A specialist in continental cuisine and having worked on a cruise liner, Chef Siddharth says he used all that experience to come up with the menu.

The menu has an innovative twist to many Asian dishes. Kiara offers gluten-free and vegan food, as they use more coconut milk than creams or butter. For the die-hard veggies who like to avoid garlic and onion, the restaurant can offer that too on request. And to top that, there are seasonal offerings.

Address: M 30, first floor, Greater Kailash II, New Delhi
Timings: 11 am – 11 pm
Meal for two: Rs 2,500 plus taxes

Burma Burma
Childhood memories dictate lifelong choices. And this is how the speciality restaurant came into being in May 2014. Co-founder Ankit Gupta’s family migrated to India from erstwhile Burma, now Myanmar, in the 1960s, and ‘mom’ cooked many Burmese dishes. “We began working on the menu in 2012 and travelled to Yangon to get a taste of the food there. As we keep working on the menu, we keep travelling to the interiors to study more dishes,” says Chef Ansab Khan, Culinary Head.

If you want to know what the neighbouring country’s cuisine is like, Burma Burma can give you a good introduction. “We didn’t have much trouble in deciding the flavours, as the palate is quite similar. They also like spicy food; there is ample use of turmeric, onion and garlic.”

With roasted sunflower seeds as starters, it sure is a healthy opening to a delectable meal here. A version of the samosa that is tangy and soupy it does taste good as Samuza Hincho. The menu is vast, its success lying in its unique offerings such as Mandalay Laphet Thoke which is a tea leaf salad unique to Burma. This is a fresh mix of fermented tea leaves, fried garlic, nuts, sesame seeds, tomato and lettuce. And those who keep yearning for their slice of meat, there’s a mock meat salad too.

Among the popular dishes are steamed buns or Paukse and sticky grilled rice or Kowni Ghin. But the crown really goes to the Burma Burma Oh No Khowsuey. The signature bowl meal of coconut milk stirred with lemongrass, tamarind and diced Asian vegetables, served with an array of toppings is what makes this a hotspot.

Among the desserts is Durian Ice-Cream. The forbidden Asian fruit, Durian, is churned into handmade ice-cream and is only available here. And it comes with a frozen rose.

But what takes us back in time, to the old black and white movies, are the teas. The signature orange infusion in white tea is an experience in itself. As the tea boils right on your table in a special kettle, the aromas float around for a long while. The restaurant also sells wares such as colourful tea canisters, glass kettles and more.

Address: DLF Mall of India, Sector 18, Noida
Meal for two: Rs 1,500 plus taxes

Swad Desh Videsh Ka
With a menu comprising 162 dishes and beverages, the colours here pep you up instantly. Catering to a popular and time-tested palate, the platters here are the most delectable ones. There’s just about everything that appeals to the consumer on the menu — from pizzas, pastas, burgers, dosas, noodles and fried rice to north Indian curries and dals. “People come in groups here,” says co-founder Gaurav Wasan. Along with founder Dinesh Arora, he says that while designing the menu, they felt that platters are a good way of giving everyeone a taste of everything.

A lot has been aligned for street food lovers such as the Chaat platter. This has a bit of everything such as golgappas, bhelpuri, tikki, ram ladoo and bhalla.

A plate of veg starters comprising paneer tikka, dahi kebabs, soya seekh and more is another way of experiencing Swad. But the dessert platter is a good way to experience Indian sweets in one go.It is laden with four favourites of kulfi, moong dal halwa, rabri with jalebi and gulab jamun, making it the sweetest end to a good old veg meal.

“We have tweaked the recipes to suit the current tastes” says Wasan. So, pan-fried noodles for the mains are perhaps what the Delhi foodies will like. Dal-e-Swad or dal makhani here is said to wow die-hard dal fans.

Address: Chiranjivi Tower, Nehru Place, New Delhi
Meal for two: Rs 750 plus taxes