Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated throughout India and among the Indian diaspora across the world, coinciding with the Hindu New Year. This year the celebration of Diwali (Deepavali in South India) extends from Saturday, October 22 to Wednesday, October 26, with its biggest day of celebration falling on Monday, October 24. The holiday is celebrated with the lighting of diyas, traditional performances, and fireworks, but is also a time to gather for a meal with family and friends (usually featuring the traditional sweet jalebi). Here are some sit-down New Orleans restaurants at which to celebrate Diwali in 2022, all accepting reservations for groups.
3116 S I-10 Service Road, Metairie
Bright and welcoming, Mantra is the two-year-old restaurant from the talented chef Bansi “Neeta” Lal, who hails from Jammu and Kashmir. Though his restaurant, named in honor of the chef he trained under in California, Manjinder Singh, and the chef’s former restaurant of the same name, opened at the height of the pandemic in 2020, it quickly became known as one of the best Indian restaurants in the city. Mantra is closed Mondays but accepts reservations the rest of the week and also has a catering option.
Nirvana Indian Cuisine
4308 Magazine Street, Uptown
Founded by Har and Anila Keswani family way back in 1982, Nirvana is one of Uptown’s original destinations for Indian cuisine. Find traditional specialties like the lamb Goa, a coconut-forward curry from the region on India’s tropical western coast. The interior is celebratory and elegant, with deep blue walls and throne-like chairs, and though it’s closed on Mondays, Nirvana takes reservations for up to eight the rest of the week and will accommodate more if you give them a call. A special Diwali menu will be available through the weekend.
4128 Magazine Street, Uptown
This James Beard-nominated restaurant and Eater New Orleans 2017 Restaurant of the Year deserves all those accolades. Against an incredibly stylish backdrop, diners can sample a feast of sophisticated dishes that marry regional Indian gastronomy with local ingredients. For Diwali 2022, the restaurant is offering a special menu Friday, October 21, and Saturday, October 22.
Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine
923 Metairie Road, Metairie
Taj Mahal was also founded by the Keswani family, and this pretty yellow storefront in Metairie is run by son Anjay. The menu touches down all around the Indian table, from curries to tandoor roasted meats along with a slew of vegetarian options. Expect authentic flavors, reasonable prices, and a setting that is warm and inviting. It’s open Monday and accepts reservations of up to nine.
1025 Westbank Expressway, Gretna
Turmeric is another newish standout Indian restaurant, a casual, family-friendly restaurant that opened in 2019 on the West Bank. Celebrate Diwali with the restaurants popular Sunday night buffet, or from the vast menu covering a full range of Indian specialties, from kebabs to biriyani to galub jamun. It’s affordable and great for a group dinner, and open on Monday.