It’s been more than two years since Khazana opened its doors in Brampton, Ont., northwest of Toronto, and in that time, the upscale, already stellar food has climbed to another level.
The driving force behind the restaurant is Sanjeev Kapoor. Among the most celebrated faces of Indian cuisine today, chef Kapoor is a TV show host, cookbook author, restaurant consultant and creator of a line of food products.
Leading off the meal are two apps that show the kitchen’s skill with the tandoor oven. There’s Lawrence Road chicken cooked to smoky, juicy tenderness. Similarly smoky are tiger prawns animated by brightly flavoured mint chutney and pickle yogurt dip.
Onion cashew yogurt gravy, fragrant with spice, amps up chunks of moist chicken, while fragrant coconut curry flatters tender, mild fish.
As at many Indian restaurants, however, the vegetables are perhaps the meal’s highlights. Roasted eggplant mashed with onions, tomatoes and herbs — silky smooth and adroitly spiced — and black lentils cooked for 24 hours with butter and spices are the best versions of this dish I’ve encountered in the Toronto area.
And then comes a vegetable biryani that is a revelation. This rice casserole is perfumed with saffron and studded with tender cauliflower, but taking the dish to another level are intensely caramelized onion that adds deep, wholly unexpected and utterly divine sweetness.
Like everything that preceded them, desserts are a notch or two above the norm.. There’s gajrela, shredded carrot enriched with steamed milk, nuts and spices; delicate gulab jamun, those irresistible balls of fried milk dough in syrup; and ultra-rich saffron-scented rice pudding.
Outfitted with modern fixtures, a palette of understated grey, hardwood floors and padded booths, the tranquil and stylish 7,000-sq. ft. white-tablecloth room provides the perfect setting for the kitchen’s sumptuous dishes.
Group options include a private dining room seating 22 people, and two semi-private areas, each seating 75. Full buyouts will be considered for the restaurant, which seats 250-plus.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,400 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.