Restaurant Review: Familiar South Indian Flavours Meet Interesting Textures At Avartana Mumbai

From familiar flavours catching you by surprise to interactive elements keeping you on your toes, Avartana is a dining experience that's hard to miss.

Published On Jan 31, 2024 | Updated On Mar 07, 2024


Bringing Avartana to Mumbai, a culinary haven renowned for its contemporary South Indian cuisine rooted in traditional flavours and Southern peninsula ingredients, has proven to be an exciting endeavour for ITC Hotels. The restaurant seamlessly combines innovation with the essence of the cuisine, presenting a captivating and inventive dining experience. Crafted cocktails and mocktails with extensive selection of wines and spirits add to the sublime dining experience. Each dish is curatively explained to the diner by the servers leaving the diner with memorable meal to write home. Which is why you can understand why I was stoked to dine at the up and coming restaurant at the ITC Maratha, Mumbai.

Experiencing the 10-course mean carefully curated by Chef Nikhil Nagpal, Executive Chef, Avartana ITC Grand Chola Chennai and Chef Deepti Jadhav, chef in charge - Avartana Mumbai & Senior Sous Chef, ITC Maratha Mumbai was a revelation. As someone who grew up eating South Indian food in tiny towns of Andhra Pradesh, the flavours felt instantly familiar. But, with a twist of innovative textures and charming presentations. Chefs Nikhil and Deepti reveal, “Avartana offers five unique culinary experiences where diners are taken through a culinary journey with the seven-course Maya in its glorious mysticism, nine-course Bela that demonstrates the beauty of masterful works of art, eleven-course chef-driven ‘Jiaa’ which warms your very soul, thirteen-course ‘Anika’ which is exquisitely curated with grace and elegance, and finally a thirteen-course menu 'Tara' offering the most indigenous coastal produce. With Tara predominantly offering seafood, the other menus showcase a star-studded cast of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights”.

I am in no way a seasoned foodie adept at sitting though a 10-course meal, but at Avartana I sure found my footing because at the root of it, the  food hits you with nostalgia of the simpler dishes you'll find at home and makes you marvel at the creative iterations brought to the table. 

Shrimp and Coriander Dumpling with Chili Coriander Jam

So how does Avartana succeed at eliciting familiar flavours that are instantly recognisable? Authentic ingredients! Chefs Nikhil and Deepti reveal, “ITC Hotels has a well-established supply chain across the nation. Avartana Chennai, now being in the business for the last six years has identified specific sourcing opportunities and the same gets leveraged for new openings. Ingredients like the Tellicherry pepper, chilies from Byadgi, Salem and Guntur, jaggery and tamarind from Chennai gets supplied to new opening destinations.” From the gondhoraaj lemon to crispy okra, the food had subtle nods to Bengali cuisine, which is what I grew up eating as well.

Distilled Rasam

Avartana is a multi-sensory experience, while the menus and dishes offer the best of culinary prowess at the table testament to the familiar flavours with modernist techniques, the diners get to see the culinary theatre unfold from the creative den of chefs with the glass clad show-kitchen which becomes an integral part of the dining ritual at the restaurant. Which is why when the service brought out a French Press with distillsed rasam early on in the course, I knew I was in for a surprise at each step of the way. FYI, you might fill up on the delicious and light but incredibly flavourful rasam a bit too much so we'll recommend capping it at two glasses at the max!

Uthukuli Butter Chicken Curry with Malabar Parotta & Beetroot Toffee

Nothing that is inedible makes it onto chef Deepti's plate, she revealed. So you can imagine my surprise when one of the heavier courses later in the meal came out with a butter-filled beetroot toffee which you're supposed to split open and mix with the dish. Another fine technique at display, chefs Nikhil and Deepti confess, “Traditional techniques like roasting of spices, hand pound cracked pepper and cumin for distilled tomato rasam, and pulled sugar for Fennel Panacotta form the essence of cooking at Avartana. Modern techniques like sous vide for cuttle fish and garlic, distillation for the liquid gold tomato rasam, dehydration of beetroot sheets for the Uthukuli chicken and morel dishes add a unique dimension to age old southern Indian ingredients," they elaborate. 

Raw Mango Pudding

If you're somebody who's looking to be mesmerised by the experience of a dining out in addition to flavours that tingle the taste buds, Avartana will have a few tricks up their sleeves. So while the Fennel Panacotta was one tasty dish, cracking it open to reveal the gooey insides that resemble an actual egg was a pleasant surprise. So was the service staff bringing out cigarette lighters to light the ghee candles in the raw mango pudding, which is supposed to melt into your dish and make for a yummy bite of raw mango delight. Chefs Nikhil and Deepti reveal, “Elements like the ghee candle in raw mango pudding and beetroot toffee are playful additions to the dishes which are merely not gimmicks but add value to the dish by showcasing an emotion of surprise and awe.”

For diners who get intimated by multiple courses, Avartana is a good place to start. With consciously prepared portions that fill you up but never overwhelms you, this culinary experience is hard to miss the next time you're in the city, 

Address: Avartana, Ground Floor ITC Maratha, Sahar Airport Road, Near International Airport, Andheri, Mumbai

Photo: Avartana