3 Fleur
Average check per person $15-$25
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayNo Lunch MondayLunch TuesdayLunch WednesdayLunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayNo Dinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Nirvana

Uptown 2: Washington To Napoleon: 4308 Magazine. 504-894-9797. Map.
Casual
AE DC DS MC V
Website

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Mainstream New Orleans has not embraced Indian food, and Indian food has returned the indifference. Nirvana is the best Indian restaurant we have. By ordering carefully an eminently delicious meal will land before you. Its flavors, along with the built-in addictive qualities of Indian spices, will be good enough to bring you back again. The strong vegetarian component of Indian menus will please those of that dietary persuasion, as well as those who aren’t.

WHAT’S GOOD
The kitchen works with a tremendous menu, covering all the major styles of Norther Indian cookery, and some from the south, too. Those who are new to Indian dining will find the tandoori dishes a good starting point. The tandoor, a clay-pot oven with temperatures of 800 degrees or so, roast skewers of chicken, lamb, and seafood. Also here are dozens of isotopes of curry (enough to demonstrate that curry is not a single flavor). The sauces range from mild and buttery to flamethrowing. The ingredients are of good quality and the cooking usually skillful enough.

BACKSTORY
Nirvana is the fifth in a series of Indian restaurants from the Keswani family, who introduced Indian food to New Orleans in 1982. This one is the more ambitious and atmospheric of their two current venues, managed by Anjay Keswani, the son of the founder. The unusual space dates back to the late 1800s, and was once part of a large Woolworth’s store.

DINING ROOM
The spacious, antique dining room offers a lot of rooms room for the aromas to spread. The 100-year-old pressed-tin ceiling that seems to have been made to support an otherwise very Indian decor. Like every other Indian restaurant in the world, lunch and two dinners a week (Thursday and Sunday) are offered from a buffet. (The a la carte menu is always available.)

ESSENTIAL DISHES
Starters
»Veggie samosa (turnovers stuffed with potatoes and peas)
Onion pakoras (Indian style onion rings)
Veggie kathiroll (Indian veggie wrap)
Chicken pakoras (fried in a lentil batter)
»Seenkh kebab (lamb sausage served sizzling)
Rugda pati (potato cakes, curried garbanzos)
Chat papri (potatoes and vegetables)
Chicken chat (shredded chicken and vegetables)
Bombay wings
»Mulligatawny chicken or lentil soup
Garam chicken soup
Tomato soup
Entrees
Tandoori dishes (roasted over charcoal in the tandoor oven)
Tandoori chicken
»Chicken tikka (chicken breast tandoori style)
Malai kebab (chicken breast, cashews)
»Boti kebab (lamb, marinated and roasted)
Macchi tikka (fish, marinated and roasted)
»Tandoori shrimp
Malai jhinga kebab (prawns, cheese and cashew marinade)
»Mixed tandoori grill
Curries, with chicken, lamb, shrimp, fish, or vegetables in the following styles:
»Tikka masala (classic tomato and onion curry)
»Vindaloo (spicy hot with potatoes)
»Saag (creamed spinach)
»Korma (almonds and cashews)
Manchurian (stir-fried, garlic sauce)
Khatha metha teekha (sweet and spicy)
Curry variations:
»Chicken patia (sweet mango curry)
Chicken tikka masala (breast, bell peppers, creamy sauce)
»Butter chicken (breast, tomato-butter sauce)
Chicken chatnad (spicy chicken, coconut paste)
Ginger chicken
Murgh sonya (ground chicken, dried fruit, farmer’s cheese, cream sauce) new!
Shrimp tikka masala (vegetables, tomato, cream)
»Goan shrimp curry (spicy coconut and vegetable sauce)
Shrimp jal frezi (sweet and sour, vegetables)
»Kali-milch shrimp (sweet black pepper cream sauce)
Fish tikka masala (tomato butter sauce, vegetables)
Fish min curry (in a coconut stew)
Fish patia (sweet mango curry)
Lamb achari (very spicy, tart pickle curry)
Lamb jal frezi (sweet and sour, vegetables)
»Lamb goa (coconut sauce)
Lamb sikander (sliced, onions and tomatoes)
»Lamb rogan josh (spiced oil and yogurt)
»Lamb ghosht (coriander and spices)
Vegetarian dishes
»Dal makhani (seven kinds of lentils)
Cholle (curried garbanzo beans)
Alu gobi (sautéed potatoes and cauliflower)
»Saag paneer (curried spinach, homemade cheese)
»Navrattan korma (nine vegetables, homemade cheese, cream sauce
Vegetable jal frezi (sweet and sour)
»Mattar paneer (peas, homemade cheese, tomato sauce)
Bhindhi (okra with spices, onions and tomatoes)
Mushroom masala (tomato-onion cream sauce)
»Malai kofta (vegetable dumplings)
Sabji kali milch (sweet, black peppery cream sauce)
Kadhai paneer (homemade cheese, vegetables and spices)
Bhenghan bhartha (pureed eggplant, tomatoes, onions)
Tandoori roasted sabji (medley of marinated roasted vegetables)
»Paneer seekh kebab (roasted farmer’s cheese)
Dal saag (lentils, creamed spinach)
Paneer makhani (homemade cheese, tomato and cream sauce)
Alu mattar (peas, potatoes, tomato sauce)
Alu saag (potatoes, curried spinach
»Paneer kali-milch (homemade cheese, spicy sweet black peppery cream sauce)
Biryani (“Indian jambalaya”), with chicken, lamb, shrimp, vegetables, or combinations with basmati rice and spices
Breads
»Naan (basic unleavened white dough, baked in the tandoor)
Lasuni (naan with roasted garlic)
Roti (whole-wheat naan)
Poori (deep fried naan)
»Aloo paratha (naan stuffed with potatoes)
Onion kulcha (naan stuffed with onions)
Keema (naan stuffed with lamb)
Paneer kulcha (stuffed with cheese)
»Nirvana naan (stuffed with chicken)
Paratha (layered wheat bread)
Mixed veggie paratha
Desserts
Rice pudding
Saffron kulfi (Indian style ice cream)
Gulab jamun (fried milk balls, rose syrup)

FOR BEST RESULTS
The price and all-you-can-eat aspects of the buffet are attractive, but resist. The cooked-to-order food is much better. It’s always best to come with four or more people, so you can order many dishes and pass them around.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
It must be noted–for the benefit of readers who come here from places with strong communities of Indian restaurants–that the food here stops well short of brilliance. The problem is one of consistency.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +1
  • Consistency
  • Service-1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude
  • Wine & Bar
  • Hipness +1
  • Local Color +1

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Sidewalk tables
  • Romantic
  • 8-25
  • Quick, good meal

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