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Cinnamon: International taste, no passport required

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Tikka Masala is the most popular dish served at Cinnamon Indian Cuisine.

081617hotdish
081617hotdish
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine, 419 Evans St., offers customers a transcontinental culinary journey with no passport required. The menu, prepared with a northern Indian influence, features more than 90 choices including chicken, seafood, vegetarian options, lamb, clay-oven specialties, appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. Prices range from $2.99 to $25.99, with the majority of items priced between $11 and $17.

Traditional food from India is prepared in various ways utilizing clay ovens and handmade techniques. An assortment of both familiar and exotic spices are used, including turmeric, which gives many of the dishes their vivid color; earthy cumin; coriander for its nutty flavor and aid in digestion; cinnamon for its sweet depth; warm nutmeg; and saffron for its rich golden yellow hue. Garam Masala, a traditional spice blend from India, adds a richness to the dishes. One thing is for sure: when you eat Indian food, you get to go on a flavor journey from spicy to sweet to tangy and beyond. The dishes are vibrant in color, and each has its own tantalizing aroma and flavor.

Let’s start with Chicken Tikka Masala, which is the restaurant’s most popular dish. Chunks of chicken are roasted in the clay oven and folded into a spiced creamy tomato and onion sauce. It’s served with a side of bright, white basmati rice. The rice is fluffy and soft, making it the perfect palate cleanser for your Indian food journey. The sauce is hearty, rich, sweet and smooth. The chicken is fork-tender, nestled in the flavorful bath of sauce. The turmeric and tomatoes give it a rich color, and you get a sweet flavor finish of a mix between parsley and mint, which is from fenugreek leaves — another traditional ingredient. Although Chicken Tikka Masala has multiple Middle Eastern spices at its core, they all work together in harmony with no spice overpowering the other. It is a wonderful dish with great flavor, priced at $14.99.

Next, I tried the Lamb Biryani. This dish is a baked casserole of basmati rice and lamb richly flavored with saffron, nuts and raisins served with a side of yogurt sauce. It’s a colorful flavor explosion and starts with a heap of perfectly luscious rice, then adding in layers and dimensions of flavors, chunks of seasoned lamb with sliced almonds, cashews and raisins. This dish also uses saffron, so it has beautiful colors throughout and tastes somewhat spicy. For those of you who have never tried lamb, it tastes like beef roast. It’s velvety and pulls away from the fork easily just like a 12-hour pot roast would. You get hearty flavors from the meat, a crunch and nuttiness from the almonds and cashews, sweetness from the raisins, and heat from the light Indian sauce. Mix in a spoonful of the cool yogurt that tastes like a cross between Greek-style yogurt and sour cream, and it smooths out the spice. It is a myriad of textures that delights your taste buds and feeds your need for crunchy, spicy and sweet, all in one dish. There is enough for two people to share. Price is $13.99.

No meal would be complete without a sweet ending. The Peshwari Naan ($4.99) is the perfect treat and ending to this transcontinental journey. The uniquely prepared side dish is an Indian tradition. It features Naan bread, a traditional Indian flatbread that is cooked in a clay oven. For Peshwari Naan, one layer is spread with melted butter, chopped coconut and maraschino cherries and then topped with another piece of bread and served like a sweet quesadilla. It has familiar flavors many people love hidden between two layers of tradition. It’s sweet and buttery but not so sweet that it makes your teeth hurt.

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine is open seven days a week. There is a lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Dinner is served from 5-10 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 5-8 p.m. Sundays. Cinnamon also offers brunch from noon-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Call 551-3253 or visit www.cinnamon419.com.

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme is giving its signature glazed doughnuts a chocolate sheen for the first time in honor of the Aug. 21 eclipse, where the moon will pass in front of the sun.

The doughnuts will be available in participating stores on Monday as well as during evening “Hot Light” hours on Saturday and Sunday.

Krispy Kreme is at 300 E. 10th St. Call 830-1525.

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