The key to any restaurant’s success is consistency, the ability to reliably turn out first-rate food. One reason I continually return to Nirvana Indian restaurant, in Mississauga, Ont., is for that very reason: its consistent excellence.
In recent months, Nirvana’s kitchen, under the exacting eye of general manager Karan Bajwa, has added some dishes from its catering menu to the a la carte lineup.
In that delicious group are tandoori red snapper, smoky and quietly spicy from its yogurt-marinade; chili mushrooms, ordered ‘dry’ (coated with spice rub) rather than ‘wet’ (with sauce), and irresistibly good; and chili fish, also ordered dry, and also excellent.
Aloo gobhi — a favourite of mine at Nirvana, it’s the classic dish of cauliflower and potatoes in masala gravy zapped with slivered fresh ginger — was, on this occasion, the best it’s ever been.
In fact, I could easily make a meal of Nirvana’s stellar vegetable dishes: the aloo gobhi; bhindi masala, the GTA’s best okra dish, the vegetable perfectly textured and tossed with tomatoes, onions and ginger; a sumptuous preparation of peas and cubes of mild paneer (cottage cheese) bathed in creamy gravy; and the baingan bhartha, silky smooth mashed eggplant jazzed with green peas, onions, tomatoes and green chiles.
Elsewhere, there’s chicken parwana, featuring pieces of breast meat enrobed in a thick, tomato-based sauce loaded with diced green peppers, onions and tomatoes.
For dessert, we opt for mango lassi, that thick, blended yogurt drink that ends off a spicy, rich Nirvana feast in the best possible way. There’s also kulfi, Indian-style frozen dessert that is denser, creamier and richer than ice cream. In this case, the kulfi is flavoured with betel leaf, which lends an intriguing flavour that’s faintly bitter and herbal.
A glassed-in tandoor kitchen highlights 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 1,400 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.