Inside the upscale Crowne Plaza Hotel is Kohinoor, an elegant but relaxed Indian restaurant serving authentic cuisine from the Persian-influenced northern subcontinent.
Rina Pushkarna, Kohinoor's co-owner and head chef, was born in Delhi to a Jewish family and married into a Brahmin family at age 16. Her husband was a captain in the Merchant Marines, so for nine years, she traveled the world and began cooking. The couple moved to Israel some three decades ago and soon opened the Tandoori restaurant in Tel Aviv. Following the success of a second branch in Eilat, Pushkarna built on her childhood experiences cooking kosher Indian cuisine and opened Kohinoor in Jerusalem, the first Indian kosher restaurant in the world. Today, Pushkarna's food empire includes regular TV appearances, her own factory for exporting packaged foods, and restaurants in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Herzlia and Eilat.
Kohinoor is available for private events of up to 100 people, and smaller parties of up to 14 people can reserve a private side room. The daily business lunch buffet, available on weekdays, is a virtual steal at 69 NIS per patron.
At the heart of Pushkarna's kitchen is the tandoor, an extra-hot ceramic fire oven used for meat skewers and flatbreads. The menu features nine varieties of flavored breads, a wide variety of curried meats, several rice pilafs and stewed vegetable dishes. Highlights include the chicken tikka, lamb samosas, ginger and beef-stuffed naan and the less traditional merlot-marinated liver with potatoes.
But overall, Kohinoor sticks to traditional Indian meat fare. "Authenticity is very important," Pushkarna recently told the press. "When business travelers come back from China, they say that we don't have real Chinese food [in Israel]. That's not the way with Indian food - I am making the real thing, and people tell me that over and over."
Lunch: Sunday to Friday, 12:00 to 15:30; Dinner: Sunday to Thursday 18:00 to 24:00; Saturday, one hour after sunset to 24:00
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