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Opinion

Don Appetit! Nirvana — The True Flavours of India


Don Douloff, Food WriterTime and again, I return to Nirvana restaurant, in Mississauga, Ont., for a true taste of Indian cooking, and time and again, I’m delighted to discover new edible treasures.

Credit for this belongs to general manager Karan Bajwa, who ensures that the menu continues to evolve in exciting ways, and who works tirelessly to maintain the restaurant’s high standards.

Koliwada fish.

On my most recent visit, those new discoveries focused on fish. From the appetizer section, there’s koliwada fish, moist fillets expertly shallow-fried, Bombay-style, and cloaked in a spicy, razor-thin battered exterior.

Main course offerings bring two superior dishes, each delivering moist, delicate fish, one in a rich, aromatic curry, and the other in a complex, tomato-inflected gravy jazzed with onions, tomatoes, coriander and ginger.

Green peas in Mughlai gravy.

Vegetable dishes are always a high point of my visits to Nirvana, and on this night, there were earthy mushrooms do pyaza, in an onion-scented gravy (another new discovery for me); tender okra sautéed with onions, tomatoes and a hint of ginger; my favourite masala-perfumed cauliflower; and green peas simmered in a creamy Mughlai sauce.

Coconut kulfi.

After all this spicy, richly satisfying food, kulfi (the Indian kitchen’s richer, more decadent version of ice cream), deeply flavoured with coconut, is just the ticket.

Manned by a multitasking chef, the glassed-in tandoor kitchen punctuates Nirvana’s spacious, high-ceilinged room.

The restaurant, which seats 220 people, is available for group buyout. A private room seats 40.

Nirvana also offers meeting and event catering (featuring a portable, charcoal-fired tandoor oven) for up to 1,000 people.

— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,500 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.