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Cinnamon Indian Cuisine: A world of flavor

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Papadum Chips at Cinnamon.


Christina Ruotolo

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We are a world of foodies, and most of us are quite gastronomically adventurous. We flock to our favorite restaurants, try new dishes and flavors, take photos, tell our friends — and that is how loyal foodies are born. Why not grab a group of friends and take a trip to India tonight? Go beyond steak and potatoes, dive into a new culture, expand your food album, and you’ll be sure to add Cinnamon Indian Cuisine to your Instagram posts. Owners Tirath Singh and his wife, Jasvir Kaur, are your loyal and trusted food guides who will help you find the perfect dish to love.

Open seven days a week, Cinnamon offers customers a variety of Indian dishes with unique flavor combinations. There are more than 90 choices including chicken, seafood, vegetarian options, lamb, clay-oven specialties, appetizers, soups, salads and desserts. Traditional food from India is prepared using an assortment of both familiar and exotic spices including turmeric, earthy cumin, nutty coriander for its aid in digestion, warm cinnamon and nutmeg, and saffron for its rich golden yellow hue. Garam masala, a traditional spice blend from India, adds a richness to many dishes. The dishes are vibrant in color and each has its own tantalizing aroma and flavor. Prices range from $2.99-$25.99, with the majority of items priced between $11 and $17.

All guests who dine in are served Papadum Chips. They are made with lentil flour mixed with black pepper. The dough is dried, then fried and served with a spicy bright green sauce made with mint, cilantro, jalapeno and onion. The texture is light and crunchy, and you get a spicy pepper kick on the front of your tongue. The spicy dipping sauce adds more heat, so keep that water handy if you are spice-challenged. They were quite enjoyable and unlike anything I have ever tasted. If you want to order some for take-out, the cost is $1.99.

Next, I tried the Chicken Tikka, which is one of the clay-oven specialties and a crowd favorite. Boneless cubes of chicken are marinated in yogurt and spices and roasted in the clay oven. The coolest thing is it comes out sizzling with steam rising up and smelling just like a backyard barbecue. The meat has that bright orange hue with hints of grill char, and it was nestled in a variety of fresh vegetables including cabbage, white and red onion and green pepper. The meat was tender, the veggies fresh and vibrant with a bit of crunch, and it tasted the way I imaged an Indian fajita would taste. This dish comes with a flavorful rich tikka sauce that is thick like a gravy and made with tomatoes, onions, yogurt and fenugreek leaves, a traditional Indian spice that has both a sweet and cool flavor. Drizzle as little or as much of the sauce as you like. This delightful dish costs $13.99.

I tried another chicken dish that packs another great palate punch, the Chicken Curry. Cubes of the same tender chicken are cooked in an onion-based, rich gravy made with traditional Indian spices. It’s served with a large helping of the sweet, fragrant basmati rice. The dish was dense and rich with a slight heat in the first bite. The flavor was robust and had a touch of cool sweetness again from the fenugreek leaves, which taste like parsley and mint. The two flavors of warm and sweet mingled together in the sauce to balance each other. When you add all this robust flavor on top of clean, white rice, the flavor pops in your mouth more and has an enjoyable, lingering effect. The one thing to note is this dish is made with curry, but it’s not overpowering at all; it blends nicely with the other spices. This dish costs $11.99.

Instead of ending my dinner with a sweet finish, I decided to end it on a cheesy note. I sampled the popular Cheese Naan, which is a traditional Indian flatbread that is cooked in a clay oven. It looks like a large circle of pizza dough, glossy with oil and topped with ribbons of white cheese. It has a touch of salt on the top and tasted fresh and airy, but with a nice bit of chew to it. It was not too cheesy and was the perfect palate cleanser for my Indian food tour. Of course, if you need sweet at the end, the restaurant has a variety of desserts like Gulab Jamun, reduced milk balls served in rose-flavored syrup and cardamom, or Kheer, a spiced rice pudding garnished with pistachios.

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine is at 419 Evans St. It offers a lunch buffet from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. Price is $9 ($7 for students with valid ID). Discounts are offered for police, EMT and firefighters. The buffet from noon-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays is $13 and comes with a mimosa or soda. Cinnamon offers catering for small and large events. The restaurant is paired with Takeout Pros, so customers can order from home and have food delivered. For more information, call 551-3253 or visit www.cinnamon419.com.

Fish stew

Jarvis Memorial United Methodist Church, 510 S. Washington St., will host its second annual fish stew and vegetable stew event from 4-7 p.m. Friday in the Taft Christian Life Center. The menu also includes macaroni and cheese, cornbread and rolls. Donations will be accepted for hurricane recovery efforts in the Southeast, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Call 752-3101.

Coming soon

Newk’s Eatery, an American chain of fast-casual cafés, will open soon at 518 S.E. Greenville Blvd., the former location of Panera Bread. Newk’s Eatery serves a varied menu including soups, sandwiches, pizza and salads. For more information, visit www.newks.com.