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A Soft Intro to India

Anna Azarova
15 August 2018

So distant. So large. So complex. India is infused with rich history and culture. Its diverse traditions can both fascinate and put off travellers. However those eager to get a little more familiar with this ancient nation have the chance to do so right here in Kyiv.

Nestled on a downtown street near, yet hidden from, the hustle and bustle, Balu attracts guests of all ages. It is a place where you can eat during the day, drop by for an evening drink, or stay for a proper dinner.

Balu, Indian food & drinks
Velyka Zhytomyrska 27
11.00 – 23.00
balu.kiev
+380 (96) 052 0755

Soft Design

The restaurant adds something different to Ukraine’s food scene. Everything here – even the design – is a softer version of the world’s seventh largest and second-most populous land. A dark green and saffron palette evokes an association with India’s national flag and lends a sense of enveloping comfort. This homely warmth is enhanced with potted plants and distressed wooden tables, chairs, and benches that impart rustic charm to the overall décor. Walls are subtlety adorned with golden patterns, one of them symbolising Ganesha, the Hindu elephant-headed and most-worshipped god of success, wealth, and new beginnings. A cute rack boasts bric-a-brac including themed books, smart candlesticks, and three mystic “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys.

After soaking up the venue’s original atmosphere, we start exploring its delicacies.

Soft Menu

To those new to Indian food, an extensive list of unfamiliar dishes may sound a bit disconcerting. Therefore, Balu wisely offers a simplified menu sharply focused on two key ingredients, chicken and paneer – an unaged and unsalted farmer cheese homemade by 80% of families in India. The restaurant claims they prepare this cheese on their own, according to original recipes. Soft, light, and mild, its texture reminds me of tofu.

For an aperitif, we order a mango lassi – a savoury non-alcohol beverage based on sour milk and mango puree (specially transported from India), and accentuated with cardamom. Similar to yoghurt in its essence, yet unique by its taste, lassi is a good refreshing and nourishing option for a hot summer day. 

Edible Inventory

Paneer salad

75 UAH

Paneer with vegetables

75 UAH

Chicken in nut and tomato sauce 

110 UAH

Paneer in spinach sauce

110 UAH

Mango Lassi

75 UAH

Kashmir

120 UAH

Jasmine Sour

120 UAH

New Deli Breakfast

120 UAH

Bollywood banana

120 UAH
Total  925 UAH

Soft Spices

Indian cuisine is widely considered all spice and fire. This is not the case as Balu, as its dishes are softened and adapted to the tastebuds of Ukrainians. With this in mind, we order two salads. The first one is Italian-styled and contains delicate paneer cheese, bitter crunchy rucola, lush mangold leaves, and sweet mango sauce. The other is a warm snack consisting of the same paneer slightly baked with red bell peppers, sprinkled with spring onions, and toppled with soya and tomato sauce. The starter has a pleasantly piquant aftertaste to whet our appetite further.

The chicken in nut and tomato sauce comes just in time. We enjoy flavoured and reasonably spicy chunks of juicy meat with fresh aromas of cilantro and some other herbs. It is followed by paneer garnished with a gentle spinach sauce – a perfect choice for vegetarians.

Beautifully presented in bright ceramic bowls, both dishes are well balanced with boiled Basmati long-grain crispy rice delivered from India.

Make sure you try

Chicken curry  110 UAH

Mushroom soup 

65 UAH
Lemonade  55 UAH

Soft Drinks

The cocktail list is worth your while – Balu combines the latest global trends with Indian spices to produce unparalleled concoctions. We begin with a Jasmine Sour that has a multifaceted taste featuring gin and freshly squeezed lemon juice. We move on to Kashmir – a succulent aromatic blend of Jägermeister, egg whites, and distinctive notes of good old curry. New Deli Breakfast is stronger, heavier, and sweeter as it boasts legendary Old Monk seven-year rum and mango syrup. Luxurious Bollywood Banana wins our heart owing to its exquisite and intricate mix of BarSol Pisco Primero (grape brandy), magnificent banana liqueur, sugar syrup, lime juice, and the indispensable curry. It is like a vintage fragrance – challenging, inviting, memorable, and long-lasting.

The venue also serves its own homemade lemonades – grapefruit-ginger or lavender – another type of soft drink that never goes out of fashion.

Soft Prices

Unveiled just a few months ago, Balu has great potential to turn into one of Kyiv’s most posh dining spots. Its fabulous bar zone promises a positive buzz in the future and will play host to exciting events. So far, prices are reasonable enough to help you indulge in the amiable surroundings paired with Indian delicacies.   

The What’s On Check List

English Menu (partially)

+

English-speaking staff

+
Wi-fi +
Price

$$

WO Rating  ****

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