I thoroughly expect to see you there the second Saturday in November – “you” being you, and “there” being the ever-creative Kiran’s Indian restaurant, which stages a British-traditioned high tea with Indian flavors only once a month. Chef-owner Kiran Verma wonders if the British didn’t get the idea for an afternoon repaste from their adventures in India in the first place.
Kiran says that in the beginning of her restaurant’s six-year success story on Westheimer between Highland Village and the Galleria, she served high tea every day. After a while, she moved it to once a week, and finally to once a month – where it has developed a faithful following of Indians and non-Indians alike.
High tea has never made much sense to me. Since I don’t have dinner at 10 o’clock at night, I always wondered how or why it was logical to eat an extra meal at 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Kiran’s high tea is light and bright and full of her subcontinent’s trademark bold flavors. It’s a set menu, starting with these wonderful crispy samosas, accompanied by mint and tamarind chutney and a cup of Kiran’s “Masala chai” – tea and milk taken on a long journey with ginger and spices.
If you’ve ever been subjected to tea service in England or anywhere trying to be like England, you know the key to authenticity is flavorless finger sandwiches. This is not acceptable to Kiran, who gives you a selection of open-faced combinations on brioche that include tandoori salmon, chicken salad with mango chutney, egg salad, and goat cheese and watercress. She even makes English cucumber with cream cheese and mint taste like something.
For this high tea’s double-barrelled finale, you are brought that dessert plate pictured at the top – a rainbow of pastries, tarts, cookies and the like – followed by a couple of incredibly crumbly scones with traditional clotted cream and raspberry jam. I particularly enjoyed the tea that showed up with these sweet bits of closure, Earl Gray with a splash of Grand Marnier. Hands across the Channel indeed!