Allow me to introduce myself & my restaurant, NILGIRI’S…!!
Well, I started cooking in 1979 in a city called Hyderabad in South Central India. Since then I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with some true masters or ustaads (as we call them in India) who were kind enough to share their knowledge about a cuisine that is wrongly interpreted as ‘curry’ all over the world! I was taught that Indian food is a process-driven cuisine wherein the steps are more important than the quantities!! It is more important to learn about ‘kaise'(how) rather than ‘kitna’ (how much) as the fundamentals of this cuisine.
After finishing my training and having worked at the Taj group of hotels for a long time, I decided it was time to take my experiences and move to the land of opportunities – Australia! In 1992, Meera and I started our ‘spice journey’ in Australia with Malabar in Crows Nest, serving food from the Malabar Coast, a first for Sydney, which then was flooded with ‘curry houses’ selling, you guessed it right – curry in a hurry! Malabar was a great success as it brought back memories of a cuisine that was almost unheard of in this part of the world! It introduced Dosai, Biryani & other South Indian specialities to Sydney diners and you loved it!
In 1998, after the birth of our son Aniruddh, Meera and I opened Nilgiri’s in Crows Nest. This was the beginning of a dream! We wanted to showcase regional Indian cuisines with a difference. With an open kitchen, a new menu every month and cooking classes, our first few years were exciting & exhilarating, as Sydney-siders were introduced to a world of regional Indian food. With a boost from the SMH Award for ‘Best Indian’, we moved to a larger venue in St Leonards!! This was meant to be a destination restaurant, with private rooms named after the Vedic elements, Jal (water), Agni (fire), Bhoomi (earth), Vayu (wind) and Akash (sky), a cooking studio and a Tiffin Room. This was our dream for 13 years until it was time to move on.Meanwhile, we also started a small & intimate restaurant, called Tellicherry in Neutral Bay, serving Coastal & Southern Indian food. The feedback & success of Tellicherry gave us the courage to move Nilgiri’s to a different location in a new avataar.
Nilgiri’s turned 18 this year, and for our new home in Cremorne we feel it is the right time to do something different to suit the new premises & the kitchen…to interpret Indian food in my own way! So friends, at Cremorne, we will be cooking some classics from Indian cuisine, but with a twist. This is just my way of letting people know that every single dish from this beautiful land called India has many versions, interpretations or avatars. My aim is not to alter but add a bit of myself to the dish which is cooked with all the FURSAT & MOHABBAT!!
I invite you to come with an open mind to dine with us, and hopefully I can make a difference to your Indian food experience in Sydney!