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Saturday, October 1, 2022
Aura On The Lake brings Indian cuisine to NOTL
aura _2
Molly Bowron

Authentic Indian cuisine has made its way to Niagara-on-the-Lake, bringing fresh spices and a new dining experience with the opening of Aura On The Lake.

The cozy restaurant at 223 King St. is owned by Nittin Sharma and his wife Anjna.

Sharma, 47, and his family have been coming to NOTL for almost 12 years and said this is his first restaurant venture.

“I always wanted to open one, so I said why not? If it’s not here, then where?”

The restaurant had a low-key soft opening on July 1.

“All in all, we had a very successful launch. Our team rose up to the challenge, the kitchen people, the service staff, and everybody came together,” he said.

“We are proud of what we achieved so far,” said Sharma, who studied at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering & Nutrition in India.

It’s a common misconception that Indian dishes are always spicy and hot, said Sharma.

“Many people think that they might not have the palate for it, but what we are doing here, is we are concentrating on the flavours (with) all the spices that I use.”

“If I cannot grow it, I’ll buy it. But when it comes to mixing it, I’m not buying any pre-mixes. I’m grinding everything fresh the way I want to present it.”

Aura aims to go beyond the usual perception of what Indian food is, he said, “and as our team grows, as they gain their confidence, as they come to know their own capabilities and they explore their own creativity, our menu is going to grow.”

Along with the aroma of spices and fresh ingredients, the mango shake made with white rum and triple sec adds a refreshing touch to the experience.

As a first-time restaurateur, Sharma said his biggest concern is striking “a balance between what I like personally and what is expected out of me as a food provider.”

With all the challenges that come with opening a restaurant, Sharma credited his wife with always having his back.

“She supported me throughout as I transitioned from being a chef in 2005 to being a taxi driver to being a nurse, to being a realtor, to being a chef again. She’s had my back every single moment.”

Sharma added, “She’s been the runner in this venture of ours. I’ve been here putting in hours, but she’s the one who listens to me when I get upset.”

“Even now her car is broken down, so she’s taken my dad’s car and gone to pick up stuff which we can only get in the GTA because there is not a single supply here who can provide me with those items.”

It’s the early days of the new venture and Sharma says they’re still learning.

“We are getting more efficient at doing it. My recipes are changing according to the feedback I’m receiving, so eventually we will get somewhere, where I think everybody will be glad to come here and try it.”