Nasha’s Indian-Mexican is two scientists’ long-term experiment with cultural food fusion that has resulted in one of Austin’s most unique food spots.
In 2014, husband and wife duo Mahesh and Anusuih Shinde opened Nasha, their personal Tex-Mex spin on the Indian cuisine they know and love.
“I studied to be a chemist, so I like to mix things up even in the kitchen,” Anusuih Shinde said.
Anusuih Shinde said most of the dishes they came up with began in their own home. They often experimented with adding Mexican twists to original recipes from their sister restaurant, New India.
“Mexican and Indian spices just blend so well together,” Anusuih Shinde said. “It just felt natural when cooking.”
Alina Cardenas, UT alumna and head manager at Nasha, has worked for the Shinde family for five years. She began as a server and worked her way up.
“I’ve grown a lot, and I learned a lot about business because I’ve been here at Nasha since day one,” Cardenas said. “It’s kinda awesome to see how it’s grown and how it’s now becoming even
Cardenas said she has visited the Shinde household and watched the couple experiment with various spices and dishes. Some of the curries they make contain as many as 13 spices. Some drinks even include a mix of jalapeño seasoning and curry leaves.
“(The owners) had a curry leaf plant at their house,” Cardenas said. “We made margaritas and then we took some of the curry leaves (and) started making curry leaf margaritas. It’s one of the most popular drinks here.”
Apart from the distinct menu, Cardenas said Nasha’s location in East Austin adds a funky, late-night vibe unique to Austin’s always-evolving restaurant scene.
“Nowadays we have restaurants that are really new, like tapas,” Cardenas said. “They have really small portions — that’s how they’re executed — and are very pricey.”
By adding Tex-Mex influences to traditional Indian recipes, Anusuih Shinde said they hope to appeal to a younger audience.
“I know my culture,” Anusuih Shinde said. “The plan was bringing my culture to the younger generation with something they are familiar with.”
UT alumnus Harshil Modi’s family hails from Gujarat, India and said he often frequents Nasha for a traditional meal and appreciates the menu’s authenticity.
“They have roti — it’s like a tortilla,” Modi said. “They actually have that. A lot of Indian restaurants nowadays skimp out on that. That’s like one of the traditional things we eat.”
Modi knows a lot about the curry dishes at Nasha, including what type of base the sauce is made with. There was one dish in particular that stood out for him — the coconut curry.
“That one felt like somebody from India made that,” Modi said. “It was really good, and it felt like really authentic.”
It just so happens Anusuih Shinde’s favorite food served at Nasha is the coconut curry, a dish she only had on special occasions while growing up in Goa, India.
“Me and my family would travel to rural areas on the border of Goa, or to Bombay, just to eat dishes like that,” Anusuih Shinde said.
Anusuih Shinde has fond memories of learning to cook as a child and most of her recipes came from her mother. Today, she wants to pass on that knowledge and love of food to Austin’s booming
“That’s why it’s important what we do,” Anusuih said. “We want to give the young people a fun place, but we also want to nourish their minds.”