On the strength of all the raves, I finally got myself to Kinara for dinner last night. It may be a case of too high of expectations, but I have to say I don't really see what all the fuss is about. It's generally agreed on this site that the Indian offereings in Brooklyn are pretty poor, and the raves here made me think Kinara was going to really stick out from the pack. It may have been an off night, and I will certainly give it another try, but it would have to be vastly improved to warrant any excitement at all on my part.
We started with the kachori, which was actually very good. People have commented on the lack of greasiness at Kinara and this was evident in this dish.
We then had chicken jalfrezie and saag paneer. I love jalfrezie and don't often see it on menus in NY. It was ok - the chicken had obviously been cooked with sauce for at least some short period of time (as opposed to the sauce being just thrown on the meat and allowed to simmer for a few minutes when you order, which is what I think is the problem with most inferior Indian restaurants - hence the runny sauces and lack of pervasive flavor in the meats). It had somehwat of the smoky, peppery flavor that a jalfrezie should have. But it was very sweet, nit very hot at all, and I believe had a considerable amount of cream or yogurt in the sauce, making it more like a peppery tikka masala. The chicken was of decent quality but did get a little gristly in spots. I would rather they just go ahead and use the bits of the chicken that tend to be less desirable to western palates but actually should be used in proper Indian cooking, such as thighs - the bones and fat, cooked from the beginning with the curry paste and sauce, are what give great Indian food it's amazing flavor. But I do acknowldege that people generally like to see fluffy pure white perfect cubes of chicken, and obviously that is the taste they are catering to at Kinara. So at least get that right and don't have surprise gristle throughout the chicken.
The saag paneer was a total letdown. This is my favorite dish and I use it as a yardstick when trying new Indian restaurants. At it's best, it's a thick, complex, layered dish of considerable spiciness and texture, with distinct spinach flavor but also distinct ginger and onion. At it's worst, it's barely distinguishable from creamed spinach at a very poor steakhouse. This was sadly of the latter variety. It was also completely runny. The paneer was of a good texture but once again, this is something that can be very bland but doesn't have to be.
WE had a paratha as well, also very disappointing. I recall one person remarked that the naan had a bisquick quality - same with the paratha. Pretty flavorless and floury.
I feel badly being so stern with this place because they were extremely nice and are obviously trying. It was almost full so hopefully they will be able to stick around long enough to make some improvements. Like I said, I will go back and try it again. If anyone has a dish they love there, please let me know.
I have to say, Joy on Flatbush does not get a whole lot of love on this board and it is in my opnion vastly superior to Kinara. Still not exactly knocking it out of the park, but much better.