Chingari: Grand Hyatt’s Indian Attempt
restaurant Chingari is perfect for someone seeking an introduction to Indian cuisine,
but doesn’t want to be thrown taste-bud-first into the experience. Chingari is,
in a word, unauthentic.
It’s not that
the cuisine at Chingari is not good; in fact, the high quality of ingredients
is obvious, but it just doesn’t properly represent the dynamic cuisine of India.
The food is also not quite luxurious enough to warrant the high prices or its location
in one of Cairo’s premier hotels.
samosas (50LE) are four to an order. The potato and pea-filled pastries are
sizeable, but there is little in the way of spice. If you like heat, apply the
accompanying tamarind chutney liberally. The heavy garnish of sliced red onions
also adds a nice fresh kick to this appetiser.
skipping on the butter chicken (130LE). While the boneless chicken cubes are cooked just fine, the curry sauce
tasted of sweet tomato soup and suddenly had this reviewer craving a grilled
cheese sandwich. For more Indian flavour, go for the cumin heavy chicken curry (130LE).
The chicken falls off the bone and with minimal stirring the curry sauce
remains intact. You might be better off eating this dish with basmati rice
(35LE); as the garlic and coriander naan (20LE) is rather flavourless and a
little too doughy for our liking.
lamb chops (150LE) are tender and well-charred. The dish is served on a
sizzling plate to keep the meat hot throughout the meal, yet it was devoid of
the classic pink hue that tandoori meats often gain from the marinade. We were surprised, not only by the fact that
only half of the six pieces of meat were actually lamb chops; but also that the
dish was served without yogurt or chutney, which was additionally nowhere to be
found on the menu.
mango lassi, combining yogurt and mango juice, is more sweet than tangy but is
creamy and satisfying. This and the salty lassi are the only two drinks
specific to the Chingari menu; and oddly enough, are listed with the
desserts. Juices and mocktails are also available,
but you may need to request a beverage menu specifically to see their listing.
selection is scant, but kaser kheer (50LE) is a fine option that maintains the
kitchen’s status quo of nearly Indian cuisine. The bowl of rice pudding was
sinfully creamy, yet it lacked the punch of the promised cardamom and saffron. Almost wary of the large amount of saffron strewn
across the bowl; we quickly realised that the threads of spice had almost no
flavour at all and only provided a bit of colour to the sweet dessert.
It is worth repeating
that none of the food sampled at Chingari was particularly bad; it was just not
particularly Indian (nor particularly worth the price). Chingari does get points for its service; as
the servers were both skilled and friendly.
The atmosphere is fine as well, with the option of Nile-view tables as
well as an undisturbed corner of booths, where the grand piano in the hotel’s
lobby can be heard. The experience is a
pleasant one, but the next time that we crave Indian food; we’ll go elsewhere.