Dec 28: The 287th Wine Dinner at the Kiara Soul Kitchen, the new all-vegetarian restaurant in Greater Kailash 2 Delhi, known for special flavours and presentation with a strong Asian accent matched with Greek wines from Vaeni Naoussa, a co-operative in the Macedonian city of Naousa, was a historical dinner, writes Aruna Chawla, a young lawyer non-vegetarian member of the Delhi Wine Club, who enjoyed the unique gourmet experience
Photos By:: Adil Arora
I’m big on the food-for-soul trend. To be fair, growing up in Bangalore during college, made me immune to instagrammability of food. All I needed was for it to taste good, and be healthy so that a college-goer’s health was not damaged beyond repair. If it looked good, even better!
Having moved back to Delhi a few months ago, I’ve been uncomfortable with the options I have for good food. The usual marketing gimmicks of influence don’t work on me. The core of the product should blow me away - rest is just a cherry on the top, and while I love cherries, they’re an embellishment and not the final product.
The 287th wine dinner of Delhi Wine Club was at Kiara - Food for Soul, a new all-vegetarian restaurant. The first all-vegetarian dinner of Delhi Wine Club, coming after 16 years of the Club in action, and that too served with Greek wines, was a splendid affair of actual food for soul. I know I’ve given my verdict already, but Manav and Madhav Windlass, the brother owners and founders of Kiara, really left no room for the suspense. The dinner was clubbed with Greek Wines brought to Delhi by Pashupati Wines from the Vaeni Naoussa winery of which Malay Kumar is the Brand Ambassador.
From the get go, the decor is tasteful, and yet not Delhi-taste. It’s simple, not over done, and lets the food do the talking. This is wonderful, because you will go for second helping, and if you’re as shameless as I am, maybe even a third. (Don’t blame me. The glaze on the walnut was really that good.)
The group of diners was unique this time - a few old faces, but a lot of new faces owing to two reasons. One, that the dinner was purely vegetarian. A lot of our regulars didn’t want to indulge in a ‘wine’ dinner that was vegetarian. The space was honoured by many guests and Rotarians belonging to the Rotary Club of Delhi Chanakyapuri in which our President Subhash Arora used to be a member for 25 years!. They had joined us for a gala time and many became members of the club right there!
This holds true for all the courses we were served. The servers were attentive. The cutlery was clean. The food was a delight to look at. Highly instagrammable! Kiara runs on the concept of soul food. A fine-dining restaurant that is completely vegetarian, and *drumroll* goes beyond the regular staples of dal-chawal, veg Manchurian, or veg pizzas, they serve world cuisine with strong Asian accents. The menu is all vegetarian, 60% vegan, 100% innovative, yet, nutritionally sound cuisine. They base their brand story around the three pillars of purity, mindfulness and innovation. The fresh, healthy, and preservative free ingredients are sourced locally from farms. The food innovation is experimental, but does not falsify the value and goodness of the food served. All of this comes together to serve a menu with nutrition and well-being inbuilt into its core.
For Appetizers, we were served Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Galette, Kiara Minced Flower Galette and Vietnamese Rolls. These were paired with a Retsina Chryssanthi Wine. I was slightly late to the dinner and had the appetizers after my salads, therefore my opinion might be a little biased. The flavours were unique and well-blended, but what was interesting was how well vegetarian food was put together, this coming from a hard-core non-vegetarian. This was the first Greek wine I’ve ever tried. This particular wine is prepared by adding pine resin before the fermentation takes place. The flavours were simple but bold, telling of the chalkey and clayey soil the grape is grown in. The makers suggest it goes best with grilled meats, but honestly, with food so good, this wine took a backseat.
For Salads, we were served the Arabic Date Salad and Kiara Flower Pot Quinoa Salad, paired with Makedonikos White 2017-interestingly made from the red Naoussa Xinomavro grape. This was my favourite part of the entire menu. The menu and serving sizes were specially curated for the Delhi Wine Club Dinner. The Arabic Date Salad had 4 distinct flavours - each of which was very unique and strong, but somehow went well together without overpowering the others. The Arabic Date was filled with a cream, the orange piece was fresh, and the walnut was glazed with yet another amazing layer - all of this bedded on a small bed of fresh leaves. The leaves left a sort of bitter taste in my mouth in the end, but the topping of the salad blew my mind away, so much so that I asked for multiple helpings of it.
The Quinoa Salad was a beautiful mix of colours and flavours. I like quinoa anyway, not for its recent trendiness, but because it was one of the easiest and healthiest dishes for me to cook back in college. The beauty of this dish was that it felt like comfort food, something that made me think I could make it too. But the truth is that the preparation and plating both were the job of an expert. Simple home food made to feel fine-dining, and living up to the jazz. The wine was a nice dry wine with balanced acidity. It stood strong amongst such great salads, and I found it to be the more likable of the two whites served. It made me think of white flowers, a very nice floral aroma on the nose, but a unique (also floral) taste. This is a wine I’d like to stock up on for a summer day book-reading session.
A Nasi goreng with Soya Satay was our Entree paired with Makedonikos Red 2016. Served on a bed of rice, the satay definitely didn’t taste like the ‘soya chaap’ that we Delhites are used to. It tasted bang-on from the menu of a restaurant serving global cuisine, again with well-balanced flavours with a complexity that made me feel I was tasting luxury but not overpowering me with it. My introduction to Greek reds was a little underwhelming for a red. It was a simple wine, with not much happening in it. I wouldn’t recommend this wine for beginners either, for fear of being put off Greek wines for good. It was paired well with the dish, and letting the dish take the lead.
For Mains, we were served Teppan Grilled Cauliflower Rolls and Mushroom Overload. Both the last reds were served together (to make sure the desserts were unaccompanied). These were the Naoussa Xinomavro and the Grand Reserva Xinomavro 2013. Honestly, if my mother ever asks me to eat ‘gobhi’, I run away or Swiggy something, but this Teppan Grilled dish is to this menu what my mom’s pizzas with brinjal and gourd used to be when we were younger and didn’t know any better. I barely knew I was eating cauliflower, and what’s cool is that it was done really well with an Asian style of preparation. The mushroom overload was a lot of mushroom that didn’t taste like mushroom at all. As a mushroom lover, I was looking forward to tasting one of my favourite vegetables in a new avatar. The avatar was great, but the vegetable went missing (for me). This is the course where I found my kind of Greek red. Having the two wines together enabled us to appreciate what good aging can do for a wine. The same grape in two different ages displayed pronouncement of aromas and flavours in the second one. Not trying to sound like a snob at all, but the Grand Reserva was my preferred choice of this ‘sour black’ grape.
For Desserts, we were served Apple Crumble and Baked Yoghurt with Blueberry Compote. This serving redefined the definition of Apple Crumble for me. I’m not a big dessert fan and expansive dessert dishes don’t break the charts for me. Both of these desserts were enough for a good taste, and left me wanting for just a spoon more - like any good dessert should!
The food at Kiara was the star of the show for me, hands down. I did find two Greek wines I’d want to go back to, but none that made me stop and re-position my favourites. However, it’s a wonderful start for the introduction of Greek wines in India. Maybe next time, a better thing to do would be to try the wines with Greek food and accurate pairing!
Until then, Jai Ho!