Dinner at NRI - It's Not Really Indian

I often hear people talk about how the Indian food in restaurants abroad isn’t quite “Indian” in the true sense. Much like the contentious Cold Play video that is allegedly a cultural appropriation, as viewed by the urban Indians. That’s because the “Indian” food served abroad is more India- inspired, but catered to suit local tastes, and prepared with local ingredients. The newly launched NRI, which wittily stands for “Not Really Indian” reveals in its very name the inspiration for the menu created by Chef Atul Kochhar – his own interpretation of the food that Indian diasporas across the world have brought to the table. Chef Kochhar, who led two London restaurants to their first Michelin stars, has brought home their recipes, given a further twist with local ingredients. 

The restaurant’s being talked about, and the jury seems to be in a limbo over what Mumbai foodies seem to think of the food. Personally, I feel that’s a good sign. When a restaurant serves something different, a debate usually follows, and last week, I dropped by to see what the fuss was all about.

NRI wears a desi-inspired d├ęcor, with a relaxed vibe, plenty of natural light, and lots of whites and browns all over. The staff are a friendly lot, and trained well to explain each dish you might choose to order.

We started with the Dilam Shakarkandi, a roasted sweet potato and pomegranate chaat, with fresh yogurt, and tangy tamarind chutney - delightfully flavourful, and one of the best chaats I have had in a while. From the Robata (grill) menu, we ordered the Mamak Lamb Chops. The meat was perfectly grilled, with a zesty mix of soy, honey and kaffir lime juice. Again, unusual and delightful. The Chicken Pie came with a beautifully unbroken crust, with a filling reminiscent of the Amritsaru chhole masala. 

Among the mains, the Chicken Bunny Chow, a South African comfort food is a must have. It’s a hearty dish of scooped-out bread loaf, filled with a warm curry. The bread soaks up the curry, becoming moist and taking on the flavor. 

Our other main was the vegetarian Sri Lankan Potli, a spicy green tomato relish with slow cooked vegetables, that we had with the Buss Up Shut Roti, a popular Trinidad roti, so called because it looks like a burst shirt.

Desserts were wheeled to our table, and we picked up Raspberry verrine, and the Marcaibu Orange, both a beautiful way to end a rather pleasant meal. 

There is still a lot I’d like to try from the menu, but there is only so much one can eat for dinner. I love the fact that this “India inspired” cuisine is just as it’s intended to be – Not Really Indian, remotely familiar, but bursting at seams with flavours from far-away lands. It’s such a lovely match! If you’ve been to NRI, and tried any dishes apart from the ones I did, I’d love to hear from you. What did you think of the place? What, in particular, would make you go back? For me, it’s the chaat and the Bunny Chow for sure, but also the other strangers on the menu I’d like to make an acquaintance with.

1 comment:

  1. love the name...Not Really Indian. What a lovely, tongue-in-cheek twist to the NRI acronym:)


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