Looking for your next food adventure in Austin?
Search no further than East 7th Street and the charming wooden house previously occupied by Casa Columbia. While that east side favorite has moved further down the street, Nasha India has taken its place with a bold attempt at a new food genre: Indian-Tex Mex fusion.
The restaurant’s interior has been refurbished and a polished wooden bar installed in the corner. While the neat colors add a friendly ambience inside, as always, I feel most at home on the square patio shaded entirely by a large, overhanging tree.
Drinks for the Sweet and Spicy
Nasha’s Curried Margarita introduces the idea that the spices used in each genre of food are complementary, not at odds. The drink was described by my server as a jalapeño margarita garnished with curry leaves.
I tried another of their six margaritas – the Tulsi Margarita. Tulsi is native to India, often referred to as “holy basil” and closely related to mint. Indeed, reminiscent of mint, the plant adds a refreshing coolness to the tart margarita.
One surprising drink is the Lassi, which visitors can order in mango or cardamom. It can either be a non-alcoholic drink or come spiked with bourbon (the latter is referred to as the Sassy Lassi). This is a creamy yogurt-based drink almost like a smoothie and is perfect for enjoying outside on a warm night. I recommend this drink if you need something to temper your spicy food.
Nosh on Tacos and Tikka
Don’t be deceived – Nasha is not lazy about its fusion menu. When you order chips and salsa, you won’t find tortilla chips and tomatillo sauce. Instead, two tall, unbroken lentil crackers are presented with mint chutney and a thick red salsa. Break off the pieces and start combining the flavors. The chutney is disconcerting at first because its texture and flavor are not at all like your typical green salsa. Pair it with the traditional salsa for a fuller taste you can grow accustomed to.
A more traditional appetizer, lamb samosas, are served with mint and tamarind chutney. The tamarind chutney is a sweet brown sauce perfectly matched to the savory golden pocket stuffed with lamb and curried sweet potato.
Instead of traditional curries like Tikka Masala and Shahi Korma, or the vegan selection I look forward to exploring later, I opted to go full fusion during my most recent visit. I ordered the Chicken Tandoori tacos on wheat tortillas, paired with Dal soup. The Dal, which is a lentil soup, was bright green and satisfyingly mushy—just like split pea soup.
The Chicken Tandoori tacos were innocently disguised as typical Tex Mex fare when they came out (aside from two unfamiliar sauces and a conspicuous cup of Dal). But the meat tasted distinctly like that found in traditional Indian tandoori.
Presented with onions and bell peppers like Tex Mex fajitas, the tacos were a pleasant mix of comfortable old flavors and interesting new ones.
Borrowing Traditions for Bold Fusion
The future of fusion is rife with potential and Nasha’s particular mix is something I’ve never seen before.
In a way, everything is fusion. Cultures have borrowed spices, flavors and ingredients from each other for as long as there has been human interaction, and people will continue to find innovative ways to create delicious food.
Nasha’s website describes the food as “all Indian and a little Tex-Mex,” but it’s interesting to note the other influences implied by the menu items. The lamb samosas are “Iranian influenced,” the Vindaloo described as “an old Portuguese potato dish” and the Indian plates have origins from all over the giant subcontinent.
Try this place out for an eating adventure and a lesson on what makes food good: bold new combinations and skilled preparation of old favorites.
1614 E 7th St – Website
@erinmayyyy wants to know:
Have you paid a visit to Nasha? What did you try?