Indian cuisine wears many hats in Mississauga. It can be a quick pre-movie or pre-drinking mini-feast that comes in under $20. It can also be an exotic date night outing, made more romantic by the restaurant’s use of deep reds and elegant golds and crisp linen tablecloths. It’s hard to determine what Mississauga restos are the best (there are lots to choose from), but we’re going to try to recommend a list of restos that sit at the middle and high ends of the Indian food spectrum.
5 – The Host
The Host, centrally located on City Centre Drive off of Robert Speck Parkway, is a finer dining establishment, though still relatively affordable (two can expect to eat for $30-$40 with drinks and tip). The intimate and darkly lit resto is romantically atmospheric, and the colourful bangles that almost act as crown moulding are an especially nice touch. The service is good and food, served a la carte, is varied in its selection and satisfying in both taste and portion. The samosa starter is smaller than one might expect, with three or four bite-sized curried potato or chicken pastries sitting atop a plate attractively adorned with sweet and savory sauces. The Indian piece de la resistance, the butter chicken, is smooth, tender and conservatively spiced. One of the nicest touches is the Afgani naan, a traditional naan infused with dried fruit and coconut shavings – perfect for those who like to mix sweet and spicy.
4 – Nirvana
Nirvana the Flavors of India matches its beautiful food with its equally enticing atmosphere. Spacious and elegant, the earth-toned resto welcomes diners to an open-concept (but with some separate rooms) establishment that showcases classic Indian sculptures, white marble pillars, and artfully decorated glass windows and embellishments. The resto is perfect for quick lunches, large parties and long dinners, and the food does not disappoint. Two exceptional dishes — both chef specials — are the lamb or goat Rogan Josh (lamb $15 and goat $16) and the Nirvana Dal ($12). The Rogan Josh, a Kashmir dish, showcases tender meat simmered in gravy and spices. The Nirvana Dal features five Indian lentils simmered overnight in rich spices. The resto is centrally located at Hurontario and Brunel, and is easy enough to find. A little on the pricier side, two can expect to eat for $40-$45 with drinks and tip.
You’d be forgiven if you said you’d never heard of this tucked-away gem on Enfield Place, right behind the Sussex Centre. It’s not visible from the street, but its central location and unique menu brimming with Southern Indian vegetarian cuisine puts this pleasant finding high on our list of must-visit Indian restos. The cafe, intimate and decorated in dark, rich hues, offers diners the chance to sample medu vada (a sort of savory doughnut), various dosas (crepe-like wraps) and South Indian Thali, a mini five-course meal served with a pickle, pappad, yogurt, buttermilk, sambar, rasam, poriyal, dal or kootu, gravy, rice of the day, white rice, chapati or poori and the dessert of the day. The Thali is served on a round platter with rice in the center and, despite sounding overwhelming, isn’t too much for one person to finish. Diners looking for an even more authentic experience can enjoy a masala chai (tea) after their meal. The fair price point, attentive service and highly customizable menu (you can specify spice, oil and texture level for dosas) makes this inconspicuous vegetarian resto more than worth the search.
2 – Avani
Avani, located at Mavis and Matheson, gets extra points for being a unique Indian and Asian cuisine fusion restaurant. Spacious and elegant with its use of deep colours and linen tablecloths, its extensive menu offers a pakora platter ($10), spring rolls ($8), samosa rolls ($8), butter chicken ($14), chicken haryali ($14) and pad Thai ($13). Seeing the exquisitely prepared chicken haryali was probably the most joyous part of the meal. The savory, tender chicken dish — known for its electric green colour, thanks to its coriander marinade — was exceptional. The presentation was also top notch, with a thin layer of cream adorning the slightly tough butter chicken. The aforementioned samosa rolls were also a hit, fusing Indian and Asian cuisine by stuffing a spring roll wrapper with samosa filling. Now, I must say that the talented menu developers at Avani are not the first innovators to come up with such an idea. I’ve been making samosa with spring roll wrappers for some time. It’s easier — and almost as tasty as the real thing. Try it sometime. As far as prices go, Avani is finer dining, so two can expect to eat for $50 or more with tax and tip.
1 – Maharaja
The Maharaja is an incredibly stunning boutique restaurant inspired by the regal beauty of India’s diverse landscape of architecture and flavours. The concept offers a visual and culinary journey through three magnificent palaces of India and a menu featuring cuisine from four different regions in India. The storybook menu is divided into four regional cuisines found in India which have been influenced by various ingredients and flavours of a variety of countries including Greece, West and Central Asia and Persia. There are a number of shareable dishes and entrees highlighting the unique flavours of each region through Awadhi cuisine, classic Hyderabadi cuisine, Punjabi cuisine and Rajputana cuisine. The extensive menu caters to all palates and features distinct regional dishes presented on fine dishes such as copper bowls, slate boards, and copper table top grill.