I have travelled to London often over the last 30 years and have, on most occasions, dined at Indian restaurants because they served comfort food that I knew would please everyone in my family. During my most recent trip, I had the opportunity to dine at two outstanding restaurants specializing in contemporary Indian cuisine that don’t serve Indian food like Amma makes. With a fresh, exciting and fun approach, these restaurants have catapulted Indian cuisine to the top of the chart.

 

Quilon

Entrance to Quilon Restaurant in London.

Entrance to Quilon Restaurant in London.

 

My husband, son and I enjoyed a fantastic late lunch at Quilon during our most recent trip to London. Making selections from the set menu, we were able to enjoy several dishes plus desert as well as tasting each other’s selections. The contemporary atmosphere is fresh and new and the service is outstanding. Our waiter knew the menu in detail from top to bottom and was happy to share his recommendations with us. A delicious array of pickles, lemon, tamarind, and garlic were served with pappads. For starters we order the Cauliflower Chile Fry, The Coconut Cream Chicken and Pepper Shrimps; all were delicious.  A small cup of Tomato Rasam was served in a wine glass between courses. The Chicken Roast, Quilon Fish Curry and Manglorean Chicken were perfectly spiced and well prepared. The cuisine in this restaurant takes southwestern Indian food to a new level with its unique blend of spices, updated menu and attractive presentation. I can’t wait to try this restaurant again.

 

Delicious Indian cuisine from Quilon's menu in London.

Delicious Indian cuisine from Quilon’s menu in London.

 

 

Cinnamon Club

Entrance to The Cinnamon Club Restaurant in London.

Entrance to The Cinnamon Club Restaurant in London.

 

Without a doubt, this is the most amazing restaurant in London. With the chef’s fusion approach to cuisine, this food offers a celebration to the palate. If you want the same old Indian food, do not eat here. It is contemporary, fresh and exciting with presentation being as important as taste. The restaurant, located in an old library, is attractive and comfortable. The service is refined and polished and our waiter possessed a thorough knowledge of the menu and the chef’s vision of the food. I enjoyed this fantastic meal very much.

Delicious Indian entree from the menu at Cinnamon Club in London.

Delicious Indian entree from the menu at Cinnamon Club in London.

 

After our meal I met the Manager and Head Chef, Hari Nagaraj, who welcomed me to his restaurant. We briefly discussed the vision of Vivek Singh, Executive Chef and CEO, had when creating this heavenly restaurant. I was so excited by what they are already doing with Indian fusion cuisine that I knew I was on the right track.

 

If you have the opportunity to visit London, make it a point to visit both of these outstanding restaurants.

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

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Since I own about a half dozen of Sanjeev Kapoor’s cookbooks and have heard only rave reviews about his cooking, I thought his restaurant, Khazana, should be on my ‘To Do’ list while in Dubai.

 

Upon entering the nearly empty Khazana Restaurant, we were seated immediately at a table for two in the dining room that was subdivided into smaller, more intimate areas. When the waiter arrived we asked to see the wine menu. Since the waiter could not understand our English, we resorted to pointing to the wine we wanted. Since it wasn’t available, we made a few more attempts to order a wine that was in inventory. After two failed attempts, we received a bottle of wine. The poor waiter didn’t have a clue about wine or how to present and serve the wine. The wine list only offered wines with 2010 or younger vintages and were very expensive for what they were.

 

Ordering our meal was another experience. Because the waiter had a limited understanding of English, my husband had to speak to him in Hindi. In a country where most of the people are expats, I found this odd since English is the de facto common language. The waiter could not explain the menu to me so I could understand the preparation for the dishes. We ordered Dum Methi Murgh (chicken with fenugreek cooked dum style), Chemeen Purichathu (marinated shrimp fried with curry leaves and coconut) and Jeera Rice (plain rice with cumin seeds).

Dinner of Chicken with Fenugreek, Shrimp with Curry Leaves and rice at Khazana Dubai.

Dinner of Chicken with Fenugreek, Shrimp with Curry Leaves and rice at Khazana Dubai.

 

The dishes were tasty even though one was served on a chipped plate. The chicken in the Dum Methi Murgh was moist and perfectly cooked, not over done; it was all dark meat, though. The Chemeen Purichathu was prepared in the standard Kerala style and was quite tasty. There was too much oil in the Jeera Rice but I have to admit it was really good. The cuisine, in my opinion, was standard Indian cooking, not redefined, chef-inspired dishes.

 

The hostess and manager never asked us about the food or our experience at the restaurant. My rating of Khazana is that the food is good (not outstanding) but overrated. The front end of the restaurant operation needs significant training starting with the waiter to the hostess and the manger. Sadly, I was disappointed with this lackluster experience but am glad that I tasted Sanjeev Kapoor’s cuisine.

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

 

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Indian restaurants in the U.S. have given Indian food a bad reputation. Their recipes have been adapted to please the American palate for high levels of salt, sugar, oil and cream. I know it tastes delicious but unfortunately, all of the “bad” ingredients and poor portion control cause one’s waistline to expand. (I know this firsthand.) Athome Indians do not cook or eat food similar to what is served in restaurants.

 

Here are my guidelines that I follow when eating at Indian restaurants:

 

Smart picks:

      • tandoori chicken which is marinated in plain yogurt then baked and served without curry (sauce)
      • grilled dishes
      • vegetarian dishes with or without curries made from vegetables
      • whole grain breads

 

Items I avoid:

      • deep fried samosas and bhajia
      • cream based dishes like Malai Kofta, Chicken Tikka Masala
      • dishes with paneer (homemade cheese which is full of fat)
      • oily, fried breads like pooris and parathas
      • limit the amount of meat
      • avoid the buffet or ensure you make only one trip through the line
      • alcohol and soda (most Indians drink water with their meals)
      • rice and bread

 

Visit KachisKitchen.com for Indian recipes and cooking tips.

All text and photographic content are property of KachisKitchen.com and are not to be used without permission of the author.