In a nutshell:
A tiny beautifully done restaurant that serves good (but short of wow) Kashmiri curries & some pretty average reheated snacks / starters. For non foodies / those not much exposed to Kasmiri cuisine / non Indian Guests, the curries might b very enjoyable as it is.
Address & other details: Kashmiri Kitchen
Meal for 2: Rs. 500 onwards
Cuisine type: vegetarian & predominantly nonvegetarian
Short Description – in case u r in a hurry:
As per the website of this restaurant, ‘Kashmiri Kitchen is run by a Kashmiri mother-daughter duo… a paradox in their tastes and personalities, however bonded by their love for Kashmiri food and culture.’ Says the Daughter about herself – ‘I gave up a lucrative career in public relations to begin this venture ‘& about the mother ‘A wonderful cook and a seasoned businesswoman, Kashmiri Kitchen is Mrs Khan’s vision and delight’.
Now that I have read this, I realize that we met Mrs. Khan last evening – She herself was present at the restaurant & had come to discuss our meal preferences for the evening. Needless to say that interaction was very warm & personal – as if we had gone to meet our aunt at her house. This experience was way beyond all ‘professional white gloved service’ & stuff like that.
The interiors of the restaurant are beautifully done. On one wall hangs press coverage of the restaurant & on the other wall Kashmiri traditional artefacts r hung. A traditional Kashmiri tea kettle was kept & on a table was placed a tarami (traditional Kashmiri vessel for serving food).
The lone guy waiting on us & on all the tables was good to talk to, non intrusive & good at his job.
The menu card is interesting. It has 2 pages of ‘ready to eat at the restaurant’ menu. The rest of the pages r for ‘made on order’ menu. This menu has listing of different items from the famed 30+ course feast named Wazwan. People can come & pick it up / get that delivered / even eat it at the restaurant at a day’s notice.
The kitchen of the restaurant is in a different area – so everything is reheated & served. Curries usually r served that way everywhere. Curries were good but for some or the other reason, it was short of wow. Read about that in the section below. The starter was not good for the same reason – fried stuff / kababs / hot starters r best enjoyed freshly made.
Detailed description – In case u have the time to njoy reading:
We started dinner with Tabak Maaz. This turned out to b a complete disaster. One – It was reheated & logically cud not b as good as a freshly made one. It lacked salt. There was no salt & pepper cellar on the table. I got up. Looked around on all tables & also on the ‘counter’ – no salt & pepper cellar. No one from the restaurant on the floor for previous 2 minutes & none till next 4 minutes. Decided to chew on as it is.
Taste was good assuming salt is correct. However, in tabak maaz texture plays a huge role – ‘Two flat pieces of meat that is slightly crispy on the outside but soft otherwise & a enjoyable layer of fat within.’ At Kashmiri Kitchen, the Tabak Maaz was crispy outside, the meat fibrous, no soft layer of fat inside. I wud give this a 2.5/5.
Post this arrived Haaq. For the uninitiated, Haaq is ‘leaves of a particular Kashmiri spinach cooked in its own juice’. The taste of haaq is so unique, so simple, so non spicy yet so good to taste that even the hardcore carnivore in me takes a deep bow when it comes to haaq. We super love the haaq at Wazwan & also the one at Chor Bizarre & make sure we order this irrespective of the rest of the items.
The Haaq at Kashmiri Kitchen was very good as well but it had a bit less of wow factor as compared to the other two eateries mentioned above. I wud rate this a 3.75/5. The haaq at Kashmiri Kitchen is surely much better than the one at Tarami, Hauz Khas.
Post Haaq came Lahradar Kabab. ‘Minced mutton shaped into big chunks cooked in curd based mild spicy gravy’ reads the description on menu card. The mutton mince kabab (chunk) was not smooth like the usual packed sausages but a bit uneven inside & that is what made it nice. The taste of the meat cud be felt. The kabab was soft, somewhat porous (that allowed the gravy & flavours to flow in), somewhat uneven in texture & tasty.
The gravy of the dish was thick, orangish colored, mildly spiced & smooth. Presence of the curd cud b surely felt without making the gravy too sour. Taste was very good but I guess a pinch more salt in my bowl wud have perfected the equilibrium of salt & sour – I guess it wud have made the dish wow. My rating for this again is 3.75/5.
The next dish we ordered was Gushtaba. It is finely pounded goat meat balls cooked in curd gravy flavoured in dried mint powder. The gravy of Gushtaba here was of very good texture – thicker & creamier than the one at Wazwan. The meatball was soft & good. However, the meatball of Gushtaba in Chor Bizarre was surely better.
This is what I had written about Gushtaba in Chor Bizarre – ‘ The meatball was soft, juicy within (u actually see drops of juice as u cut it to a half) , mild & immensely tasty & flavorful. The meatball was whitish towards the outer & still pinkish within’. I wud again rate the one at Kashmiri Kitchen 4/5.
Last dish for the evening was the famous Roganjosh – a name that has been grossly misused to sell a almost any reddish colored mutton curry across the world. The roganjosh at Kashmiri Kitchen was good – the meats were melt in the mouth & the gravy was good but not rustic / robust. I had written this about roganjosh at Chor Bizarre – ‘The gravy had the flavor of saunf (fennel), was robust, spicy, non-smooth, not overtly hot like in most other places & awesome’. The texture & tenderness of meat was much better at Kashmiri Kitchen than at Chor Bizarre. I wud rate this at 4/5 again.
We enjoyed all this with a bowl of rice.
My overall observations on the curries – Kasmiri Kitchen is very good at tendering the meats & giving them a perfect texture. The curries lack punch / rustic-ness e.g. the roganjosh wud have been better if the saunf wud have been more roughly powdered, similarly for lahradar kabab the spices were too smooth. For non foodies / those not much exposed to Kasmiri cuisine / non Indian Guests, the curries might b very enjoyable as it is.
The seasoning is also not perfect in quite a few dishes & there is sure scope of improvement. A perfect balance of salt / sweet / sour can bring about magical results in a simple dish & an imbalance in the same can spoil a very complicated/ multi flavoured dish. To start with, I wud suggest – pls keep salt cellars on all tables.
For dessert we had Phirni. Unlike in almost all other places, phirni was not set & served in a burbt clay pot. The phirni was mildy sweet, slightly grainy & had decent density. It was good. I rate this a 3.5/5.
Overall rating for food at Kashmiri Kitchen adds up to 3.6/5 (simple average of all above scores).
I think I will give this place another try in a few months. Pls share ur views if u hv already been here.