No matter how many times I visit Nirvana Indian restaurant, in Mississauga, Ont., the menu continues to surprise me and offer up new and exotic culinary gems.
On my most recent visit, those gems took the form of Hakka-style chili chicken (ordered ‘with sauce’), greaseless, succulent nuggets, stir-fried with chilies, bell peppers, garlic and onions, that are properly spicy, with good depth of flavour. More exotic still, and visually arresting, is noorani seekh. Fire-grilled in the tandoor oven, it’s a kebab of moist, perfectly spiced ground lamb wrapped in minced chicken, a combination made in culinary heaven.
Redolent of pickled spices, achari mutton is superbly tender and animated by a thick, tangy sauce perfumed with ginger. A sumptuously rich curry bathes melt-in-the-mouth fish.
Beyond the peerless proteins, Nirvana’s kitchen also turns out superb vegetable dishes that, on their own, could make a deeply satisfying meal. Sophisticated sweet and sour sauce coats chunks of firm cauliflower. Cubes of mild and fresh charbroiled paneer cheese luxuriate in a tomato-based mughlai curry. Onions, tomatoes and a touch of ginger kick-up perfectly sautéed okra. A classic Punjabi dish, long-simmered black lentils and red kidney beans, finished with butter, personify luxury.
As reliable as the food is the genial and polished service delivered by a professional staff overseen by general manager Karan Bajwa, who is always available to suggest new and interesting dishes from Nirvana’s extensive menu.
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 almost 1,000 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.