Spice of Life

Robin Barr Sussman | March 1, 2017 | Feature Features National

With a stunning new restaurant in revitalized Levy Park, third time's a charm for Kiran Verma, Houston's godmother of Indian fine dining.
Chef Kiran Verma

When Kiran Verma moved to Houston from New Delhi 44 years ago, she wasn’t a chef. Her husband was studying engineering at UH and she spent a lot of time cooking at home. Eventually, friends and family convinced her to open a restaurant, so she launched Ashiana in Briar Forest. But it wasn’t like any Indian restaurant at the time. It was a white-tablecloth, fine dining Indian restaurant well before its time.

“My enterprise was a challenge because guests were always comparing us to Indian buffets,” says Verma. By the time she opened Kiran’s near Highland Village, she had won over the public with her vision, and guests were drawn to her genuine Indian cuisine with modern touches.

This year, with a move to a newly constructed 6,000-square-foot restaurant in the mixed-use development Kirby Grove, she takes her dream to an even more sophisticated level. Welcome to the new Kiran’s: Lofty ceilings dominate the modern bar, punctuated with mother-of-pearl and gold inlaid walls. Adjacent, there’s a community table and a gorgeous glass-ensconced wine cellar with private lockers. Beyond, the warmly elegant dining room is awash in earthy terra-cotta accents with rust-colored banquets, a wall of windows and, of course, white tablecloths.

The new menu melds classic northern Indian cuisine with Kiran’s signature upscale fusion. A starter of burrata gets heirloom tomatoes, curry leaf mustard vinaigrette and cumin tomato sorbet, while crabcakes are topped with ginger, avocado and orange rind from Panzarella Citrus in Lake Jackson. “From the citrus to the Gulf seafood, we’re obsessive about sourcing the freshest locally,” says executive sous-chef Dominick Lee, a John Besh alum.


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