Enjoy an amazing vegetarian dinner at Kohinoor Indian Restaurant & Lounge: Food & Drink: Smile Politely

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As is typical for me, I think about my dinner plans well before lunch. One Wednesday morning, I made my order at 11am and waited impatiently for Kohinoor to open for dinner at 4.30am. I chose one starter, four starters and a few sides because I was very hungry. As is also the case with me, I had to yell my order over the phone because of my 4 year old baby chatting and crying. Pissed off I forgot to order dessert, but luckily I ended up with so much food I wouldn’t have room anyway.

The starters at Kohinoor are accompanied by rice or naan, which were plentiful.





This photo shows a huge amount of naan.  The bread is typically oblong in shape but sown here folded over a sheet of aluminum foil.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

Also, I may have ordered some extra naan because I ended up with at least two pounds.

A photo of various styrofoam and foil containers on a wooden table with a white background.  There is a naan notch that bursts from the foil.  Some containers are labeled with content but the text cannot be read.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

Kohinoor has a large and descriptive menu. It is also easy to find online. This makes it easy to call up a take out order or plan your dinner on the spot. I love their large vegetarian menu and appreciate that there are many dishes that can be requested as vegans.

An open square, white, styrofoam take-out container is photographed up close.  Inside there are two plastic cups to take away.  One contains a green chutney, the other a red chutney.  On a sheet of baking paper there are six fried pakora.  The elements appear as amorphous brown masses.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

First, I had an order of vegetable pakora ($ 5.99) made with mashed potatoes and cauliflower breaded in a spicy, deep-fried chickpea paste. A healthy serving of six golden brown pieces was served with cilantro and tamarind chutney for dipping. The pakora bites were crisp and dense with a good level of spice. They’ve been improved a lot by dipping in tangy cilantro or sweet tamarind chutney.

On a previous order from Kohinoor, all of the food I received was way too hot for my liking, so in my selections for this item I specifically looked for milder items. This time everything had a reasonably mild level of spice. I was able to eat without soaking everything in the yogurt sauce and I was able to share the food with my children. This is a bit of a testament to the inconsistency in spice levels that I have found at other local restaurants as well.

Here's a close-up photo of the dish: vegetarian korma on a small bed of rice.  Large chunks of potatoes are sprinkled with green peas and the green beans are coated in a creamy red sauce.  IN the sauce you can see grains of spices.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

The vegetable korma ($ 11.99) included chunks of potato, green beans, and peas served in a creamy curry. It was my children’s favorite. It was marked sweet on the menu, and this order was very sweet but still had a nice garam masala flavor and was cooled by the coconut milk.

A close-up view of a spoonful of baingan bharta on rice with a piece of torn naan.  Large slices of onion appear in a thick red sauce of tomatoes and eggplant.  On the paingan bharta is a wad of green coriander.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

I’m a big fan of eggplants, so I ordered baingan bharta ($ 11.99). The menu described this dish as eggplant mixed with sautéed onion, tomato and peas. As a rule, eggplant is grilled over a fire, which gives the dish a slightly smoky flavor. To eat this dish, I picked it up with pieces of naan to shovel in my mouth. Although there are no peas in this dish, it was filled with onions and tomatoes.

This is a photo of a small portion of fried rice with mushrooms on a white plate.  The fried rice is brown in color with several large pieces of mushrooms, a pea and slices of green onion.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

The third vegan dish that I enjoyed was the Mushroom Fried Rice which included sautéed basmati rice with mushrooms, soy, vegetables and spices. It was a step above the usual fried rice fare. It had an excellent sweet soy flavor with a hint of acid and lots of veg as well. I don’t usually order fried rice, but I would definitely take this dish again.

A serving of tandori paneer tikka and torn naan on a white plate.  The naan bread has undertones of dark brown and light brown and is topped with a bit of wilted lettuce and a large rectangle of tandoori baked paneer.  There are several large pieces of green pepper and onion.  The whole thing is embellished with a bright orange tikka sauce and a little cilantro.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

The surprise of the evening was Kohinoor’s tikka tandoori paneer special ($ 13.99). Described as roasted tandoori cheese cubes marinated in mixed species, bell pepper and onion, this meal was gorgeous and brightly colored with lots of chunky paneer chunks, onions and green peppers. Confusingly, this was served on a small bed of lettuce. Guess this presentation looks nice in the restaurant but didn’t lend itself to take out. By the time I opened the take out container, there was only a slimy piece of lettuce underneath. I appreciate this vegetarian option for a dish that is usually not available without meat. Kohinoor makes his paneer, a common Indian cheese, on a daily basis. In this dish, the paneer held up well to grilling and was a great container for the tandoori spices and delicious sauce.

This is a photo of the paneer kulcha.  On the left side of this photo is a large circle of broken naan on foil against a wooden table background.  On the right side is a slice of the same bread on a white plate.  The naan is made up of different shades of brown and stuffed with paneer that can barely be seen as small chunks of white.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

I had a little disappointment with the paneer kulcha which is basically a naan stuffed with paneer and herbs. I ordered this dish based on the very delicious photo on the website of a round of nicely browned naan that separates to reveal a soft, stretchy cottage cheese. All shiny and bold. Kind of like an Indian grilled cheese sandwich.

Not sure if I actually ordered the same dish or not, but the resulting food did not live up to the picture on their website. The paneer isn’t known to melt well, so it ended up as small, grainy pieces of cheese layered between the naan. The flavor was good, but I totally wanted a cheesy and fudge mess.

A photo of a plate of food on a gray speckled counter.  The white plain contains naan and various Indian dishes discussed in the rice article.  Most of the food is brown with patches of green.  One item, the tikka tandori paneer, is bright orange with a piece of green pepper.  Photo by Sara Ressing.Photo by Sara Ressing.

Overall, each of these main dishes had a distinct flavor profile. With two other Indian restaurants in town, the competition is stiff. I think there is a reason Kohinoor is always rated highly. When it comes to vegan and vegetarian places to eat in CU, Kohinoor is absolutely one of the top choices. Definitely worth a visit or a take out order if you haven’t tried Kohinoor yet.

If you want to learn more about Kohinoor, you can see our interview with Kohinoor co-owner Ujjwal Ghimire here or read Alyssa’s love for the special thali lunch.

Kohinoor Indian Restaurant and Lounge
6 Columbia Avenue East
Champagne
T 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
M + Th 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
F + Sat 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. + 4.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sun noon to 3 p.m. + 4:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Top image by Sara Ressing.


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