Nksha: Mumbai’s Art Deco & North Indian Culinary Gem

A spread of classic north Indian dishes served on a thali at Nksha, the recently opened fine-dining restaurant in South Mumbai

Art Deco interiors, North Indian comfort food and about 70 wines by the glass make dining at Nksha memorable

Nksha is all about comfort food. It is a place to enjoy traditional North Indian food with interesting cocktails and mocktails, and great wines. “About 80% of the menu has authentic, traditional preparations. The rest of the menu, mainly in the appetizer section, has traditional preparations with a slight tweak in the ingredients,” says Chef Vikram Arora. He and Pranav M Rungta are co-founders of Nksha, a recently opened fine dining restaurant in South Mumbai. Located opposite Churchgate Station and a short distance from many of Mumbai’s popular tourist sites, heritage precincts and cultural spots, Nksha is an easy place to access and retreat to after a spot of sightseeing or cultural explorations. On stepping in, one is welcomed by the calming coral and forest green tones of the walls and upholstery; the artistic Art Deco details; the soothing natural light from the large windows; the warm yellow light from the recessed lights and pendant lamps; and tables invitingly set with wine glasses. Catching the eye is a compact bar with a display of spirits on the shelves and wines in refrigerated coolers, with Anurag Godbole, Sommelier and Head of Beverage, mixing a cocktail for a diner.

Mouth-watering dishes are beautifully presented, including lobster tikka on the shell

The three menus – food, beverage and wine – presented to diners reveal a good choice of food and drink. The food menu features a fairly extensive variety of North Indian preparations under headings like Gourmet Kulcha, Soup, Chaat, Appetizers, Mains, Rice, Sides, Bread and Dessert. As Chef Arora mentions, several of the appetizers come with interesting tweaks: the cheese kulcha is a ‘Truffle Essence, Mushroom, Cheese Kulcha. Instead of pesto, there is a ‘Tulsi Chutney, Sooke Tamatar, Cheddar & Mozzarella Kulcha’; berries take the place of pomegranate seeds in ‘Chandni Chowk Dahi Bhalla Papri Chaat’; and salmon appears in the Norwegian Raw Salmon Chaat with Jamun Sirka, Mirchi, Peanut Crunch, Nimbu Cheel.

The main course features traditional favourites from North India like Tandoori Palak Paneer, Gucchi Matar Methi Malai, Kacchi Mirch Ka Paneer (a Rajasthani dish), Amritsari Cholé, Dal Nksha (their version of Dal Makhani), Dhaba Meat Dahiwala, Smoked Laal Maas and Nalli Nihari.

The beverage menu has Classic, Signature and zero-proof (non-alcohol) Cocktails created by mixologist Varun Sudhakar using ingredients sourced from different local markets in North India and drawing inspiration from iconic places. The signature cocktails like Churchgate, Bollywood, Khari Baoli, Hawa Mahal and Gourdon & Co, among others – evoke a sense of place and time with their names and a unique taste in their flavours.

But it’s the wine menu that steals the show offering, as it does, about 70 wines served by the glass. The listing is easy and approachable with the wines being presented under White, Red, Rosé, Sparkling and Champagne. The whites and reds are further listed in three sub-categories each according to style, with the wine region and country mentioned alongside the wine’s name. The whites are listed as Light and crisp, medium-bodied and rounded, Rich and complex. The reds are listed as Light Bodied, Medium Bodied and Full Bodied.

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As diners peruse the menus, Anurag comes across to interact and introduce Nksha’s wines, serving tastings of wine according to the diner’s choice. “Nksha means map in Hindi. Our aim is to place Nksha on the culinary map of India and of the world as a place to enjoy North Indian food with wine. Each wine on the list is special and represents an interesting aspect of winemaking. They have
been selected by grape variety, region and style to ensure there are wines for every palate. The wine list was drawn up in consultation with Nikhil Agarwal, Sommelier and CEO of All Things Nice.”

Nksha interior with coral and forest green walls and upholstery

The restaurant has a Coravin Timeless Wine Preservation System that allows wines to be poured without the cork being removed and with the wine remaining unaffected. This helps in offering diners tasting portions of wines. And if they wish, they are free to select a wine-by-the-glass after the tasting. If a guest opts for an entire bottle of wine, a fresh bottle is presented at the table.

We enjoyed tastings spanning Jacky Marteau Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Touraine, France and Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2021, South Australia to Gran Sello Tempranillo-Syrah 2019, Castilla La Mancha, Spain; as well as J’NOON Red 2021, Fratelli Vineyards, Akluj, India (a premium wine produced in small batches); Dehesa Gago 2016, 100% Tinta de Toro from Castilla y León, Spain; and Neil Ellis Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 from South Africa.

I particularly enjoyed the Gran Sello Tempranillo-Syrah 2019, which was intense with aromas of ripe red fruits. It went well with the food we had, from the amuse-bouche, a tiny kachori on tamarind chutney to soft, melt-in-the-mouth Tulsi Chutney, Sooke Tamatar, Cheddar & Mozzarella Kulcha to Langarwali Subziyaan, a light and tasty preparation of seasonal vegetables; Dal Nksha, a satiating nicely-mushy preparation of whole black lentils; soft Laccha Parantha (layered Indian bread), and Nalli Nihari, whose succulent meat slipped off the bone. We opted for Paan Ice Cream, made in-house, for dessert. Infused with the flavour of betel leaf with a touch of fennel and cardamom, it was a thick, dense treat and the perfect way to wrap up a flavourful meal with great wines!