Take in a generous slurp of simplicity as you walk into Ekaa, head chef and partner Niyati Rao’s labour of love, that arrives quietly near Azad Maidan in South Bombay. It is the fierce freedom that stuns here—as it threads through the dishes on the menu, both in fine-dining as well as at the bar, touching upon every flavour, taste and emotion that you could possibly experience. There is the freshness of seasonal ingredients, mating the fresh and local, playing up contrasts and textures, and the plating of creations with hushed reverence in front of you that builds up the natural narrative.
The earthy essence suffuses the soul of Ekaa, from the quiet décor and the neatly-arranged plant pods and khus jars, dry herbs, and twigs dotting the shelves on the walls to the unpretentious food that savours the hero ingredient in every recipe created by her.
Putting ingredients first
At 27, Niyati forms the tour de force at Ekaa. She is the creative heart, driving the culinary coup in the interactive kitchen—her “place of worship”—letting guests walk in and chat with the chefs. Ekaa is an expression of her passion for travel, cooking, and experimenting with different cuisines. She fuses traditional techniques and avant-garde methods to create a menu that gives you a chance to explore and taste something different, each time you walk into the restaurant. Blame the premium she places on R&D – a secret she learnt during her years spent in the kitchens at Zodiac Grill, and Wasabi by Morimoto (in Mumbai), A Reverie (in Goa) and Noma (the world’s best restaurant, in Copenhagen). Her experience of working with acclaimed chefs, love for all that is Indian, and fetish for travel and serendipity compose the ditty called Ekaa.
Shilpi Madan for Zee Zest