Out to Lunch with Tori: Cinnamon Indian Cuisine

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As I continued to search for warm, comforting food to eat during the cold winter months, my path led me to the second of two Indian restaurants in Midland: Cinnamon. This time I added some extra warmth by bringing along a friend.

Those who joined me on my visit to Idili Dosa will recall how it took me a while to try Indian food after being introduced to it at a relatively early age. It was Cinnamon’s cuisine that encouraged my tastebuds to be a little more adventurous in my mid-20s.

Fast forward to today where I had the chance to introduce my friend to Cinnamon’s culinary delights. Situated at 225 W. Wackerly St., Cinnamon is grouped with other eateries including a pizzeria and deli, both chain restaurants. However, diners who are bold enough to try this locally owned restaurant will be greatly rewarded.

My friend and I entered the cozy dining area to find that, apart from one other friendly duo of diners, we were the only ones eating in. A waitress invited us to take our pick of seats and brought over a couple of menus. I only opened mine briefly to check that my favorite dish, chicken biryani, was still available. My friend ordered the same thing but added a side of garlic naan at my suggestion.

Our waitress was friendly and eager to please, as it was her third day on the job. We briefly chatted about this and that between her trips to the kitchen, adding a bit of unexpected joy to our lunch. But we didn’t have to wait for our food for long.

The garlic naan came out first, steam rolling off the seasoned flatbread. My friend and I jumped at the bread before I realized I needed to take a picture of the breadbasket. The naan was soft, heavily garnished with bits of garlic and parsley. I recommend that future diners eat a little portion of the bread before their main course. This allows you to enjoy the side dish and saves the rest for mopping up any leftover sauces from your entrée. That being said, I had to exercise some restraint, as garlic bread is one of my many weaknesses.

Chicken biryani is essentially pieces of chicken hidden in basmati rice served with yogurt and tikka sauce. I like to drizzle both condiments onto my dish, as they complement each other well. The yogurt provided a cool, mild flavor while the tikka had just a hint of spice. On a side note, unless you can really stand the heat, I recommend getting mild, maybe medium levels of spice on any Indian dish, as their gages tend to be on the hotter side. While I’m unfamiliar with what kind of seasonings go into chicken biryani, I was enraptured by the flavors permeating the moist chicken and fluffy rice.

While the dish holding the chicken biryani seemed small, it held enough food for two, if not three, meals, depending on how hungry you are. On a side note, Cinnamon’s fares make wonderful leftovers, as my chicken and rice remained moist and tender even after spending a couple days in the fridge.

To finish off our meal, my friend ordered rice kheer for dessert. I heard it described as an Indian version of tapioca pudding. I’m not a fan of tapioca pudding, as I prefer my pudding to be smooth and free of lumps. Rice kheer is rice cooked in milk, topped with nuts, saffron and dried fruit. I was adventurous and had a taste, but let my friend have the rest; she enjoyed it, so I was happy. I’m sure it’s a nice dessert for people who eat rice or tapioca puddings as it was sweet but not heavy – it’s just not my thing. Sorry, rice kheer. It’s not you, it’s me.

Cinnamon is a great place to meet friends or order out from on your way back from work. If you choose to dine in, you’ll find the staff informative and friendly, offering their input for those who might be exploring new culinary territories. Perhaps next time I’ll be adventurous enough to find a new favorite dish there. Cheers!

Out to Lunch with Tori appears each Thursday in the Midland Daily News. Victoria (Tori) Ritter can be reached at [email protected]

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