By Daniel Adler (with files by Nikki Nashen)
With its refined and intimate atmosphere, unique cocktails, and delicious selection of classic Indian and fusion dishes, India Rosa is undoubtedly an amazing spot to impress a date, catch up with friends, or network with colleagues. Recently, I was lucky enough to dine at India Rosa along with my girlfriend Nikki. We were impressed by the expertise of our wonderful server Emilie, who handpicked our cocktails and tapas selection and recommended main dishes and desserts based on our preferences and dietary restrictions.
Cocktails & Tapas
With an extensive list of cocktails, we let Emilie surprise us with drinks based on our preferred flavour profiles. Nikki requested something sweet and fruity, while I asked for a drink that was gin based and on the sour side. This was not a problem for Emilie, who knew exactly what to choose, bringing the Guru for Nikki and Rosa’s Elixir for myself.
Nikki commented that “the fruit flavours come together and complement each other well, with no one element overpowering the others.” Emilie was spot on with my Rosa’s Elixir, which had the perfect blend of gin and sour citrus and a hint of cardamom, giving the cocktail a perfect Indian-inspired twist.
Emilie chose three tapas starters, which included Shrimp Malai, Dahi Puri, and Lamb Chops. Nikki loved the Dahi Puri, especially the contrast between the crunchy exterior and its sweet soft potato interior. She also felt the pomegranate seeds gave the dish an extra “pop,” while the yogurt sauce added a refreshing and light quality. I loved the Shrimp Malai, which featured perfectly cooked and plump jumbo shrimp in a light and creamy sauce. This dish was spicier than the other two, but it was not overpowering.
The lamb chops were also delicious and perfectly cooked. The lamb fell right off the bone and melted easily in the mouth. The sauce had hints of citrus and felt incredibly fresh, and Nikki and I both felt that it was the perfect example of the Indian fusion that India Rosa hopes to accomplish with their menu.
With our plates freshly cleaned and an eagerness to see what else India Rosa’s menu had to offer, we took this opportunity to speak with Emilie about the restaurant, its history, and its ownership. She told us that India Rosa is the brainchild of renowned Montreal Chef Sandhu, who is originally from the Punjab region of India, and his two sons, Hapi and Goppy, who were both born and raised in Montreal. She explained that the restaurant’s menu elegantly reflects the influence of the family’s Indian heritage, featuring classic dishes such as chana masala, biryanis, paneer, and freshly made naans while paying tribute to the family’s new home in Montreal. The restaurant creatively combines Quebec’s familiar cuts of meat, fish, and seafood with Indian spices and techniques, resulting in unique flavour profiles that are both innovative and familiar.
For the main course, we focused on more traditional Indian dishes, including cheesy naan, saag paneer, and chana masala. These were served family-style with a side of basmati rice. Nikki felt the paneer and mozzarella cheese mix that coated the bread popped and didn’t take away from the light, fluffy, and airy bread. The saag paneer had a strong flavour of ginger which paired perfectly with the garlic and ginger in the sauce. We both loved how the light paneer complemented the other main courses. The chana masala, one of our favourite traditional Indian dishes, was excellent. The spice and tang, coupled with the chickpeas balanced perfectly, making for an incredible dish.
Dessert & Tea
Of course, we couldn’t leave without dessert, which featured Crème Brulé, Gulab Samum, and Chai. The Crème Brulé was beautifully plated with a crispy top layer and a garnish of berries. The berries paired well with the cardamom flavour of the Crème Brulé, invoking a strong adherence to the fusion in India Rosa’s cuisine. Additionally, the Gulab Samum was perfectly fluffy and moist, providing a wonderful sweet ending to a delicious meal. As a Chai lover, I felt the tea was perfectly creamy and not too overpowering, pairing great with both desserts.
A cherished culinary journey
Dining at India Rosa was an unforgettable experience that gave us a lasting impression of Punjab-fusion culinary excellence. From the moment we entered, the refined and intimate atmosphere, the expertly crafted cocktails, the tapas, the delightful main courses, and the desserts were thoughtfully curated to impress and delight. The passion and knowledge of our server, Emilie, played a significant role in guiding us through the menu, ensuring each dish and cocktail suited our preferences and dietary needs.
The restaurant’s fusion concept, creatively combined Indian traditions with Quebec’s local ingredients, showcasing the culinary expertise of Chef Sandhu and his sons. These unique flavour profiles successfully bridged tradition and innovation. Moreover, India Rosa’s commitment to bringing people of different backgrounds together through food resonated deeply with me and Nikki, as we appreciated their efforts to make the menu approachable and enjoyable for everyone.
In addition, Emilie felt that regardless of one’s familiarity with Indian cuisine, one is sure to find something they will enjoy on the menu, as the staff takes pride in their ability to make recommendations and find a dish that suits everyone’s tastes.
Overall, India Rosa stands out as a remarkable establishment, offering a culinary journey that we will cherish and eagerly recommend to others.
India Rosa has two trendy locations: In Griffintown at 1050 Wellington – for reservations, call 514-360-3236 and in Plateau Mont-Royal at 1241 Mount Royal East, call 514-543-1880, or reserve online here. Brunch is also available on weekends.
Photo credits: India Rosa