Nirvana, in Mississauga, Ont., just west of Toronto, consistently dishes up first-rate Northern Indian food.
Each time we visit, we sample some new dishes and revisit old favourites.
New discoveries on the appetizer front included chaat papri, a classic snack food consisting of white-flour wafers topped with diced potatoes and chickpeas and drizzled with yogurt and tamarind chutney. It’s a terrific blend of textures (crisp, soft, creamy) and sweet/sour flavours.
New-to-us mains included rara chicken, tender nuggets of minced bird in rich, deeply spiced gravy, and a vegetarian dish, shahi paneer (cubes of velvety cottage cheese in sumptuous tomato gravy).
From the tandoor comes delicate fish tikka, and smoky and moist jumbo prawns given an additional flavour boost from their marinade. Another deeply satisfying gravy, perfumed with coriander, onions and green peppers, enrobes cubes of tender lamb.
Tandoor-roasted eggplant cooked with green peas onions, tomatoes and green chiles arrives as silken vegetarian heaven. Punjabi spices enliven mushroom-studded masala gravy.
To finish, there’s mango lassi, the icy blended yogurt drink that’s the perfect end to all this rich, spicy fare.
All of this comes as the restaurant is looking for additional locations.
According to general manager Karan Bajwa, Nirvana is looking to franchise, concentrating in the Greater Toronto Area and surrounding cities (with the exception of Mississauga, where it already operates). The restaurant will also consider Southern Ontario cities outside Greater Toronto. Full-service restaurants will be considered, as will express units.
Along with the superb food, another constant at Nirvana is the genial and polished service delivered by a professional staff overseen by Karan.
A glassed-in tandoor kitchen highlights a 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 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,300 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.