The female figure of the Buddha, an expression of wisdom, Cittamani is a word loaded with meaning that gives its name to one of Milan‘s landmark restaurants for Indian cuisine, suggesting a place of culinary harmony and enlightenment. A gastronomic temple, Cittamani, a crossroads that blends the culinary richness of modern India with that of contemporary Italy, with evocations and references to international flavors, strongly reflects the spirit of its founder Ritu Dalmia. A world-renowned chef with innovative talent, Cittamani is the summa of her professional journey, during which she has been able to interpret the international languages of cuisine and blend them harmoniously with the roots of Indian tradition. Her experiences in the various countries where she has worked converge here, devoting herself to exploring and appreciating the different nuances of cosmopolitan cuisine.

Cittamani, the landmark of Indian cuisine in Milan by Ritu Dalmia

Located in the heart of the historic Brera district inside a twentieth-century building, Cittamani is an elegant, design-driven restaurant where fine materials such as brass, marble, sucupira, and then leather and mirrors blend harmoniously with the complements and to the furniture handcrafted in India. Characterized by an elegant and refined interior, but at the same time warm and welcoming that, thanks to the large windows, opens to the outside creating a continuum with the city that hosts it and with which it has a strong bond. In fact, Milan is the place chosen by Ritu Dalmia to launch her first European adventure (the chef already runs in Delhi the Diva Italian restaurant, The Cafe at ICC, Latitude 28 and another Café Diva inside the Sangam Mall in New Delhi).

Chef Ritu Dalmia, founder of the restaurant Cittamani
Chef Ritu Dalmia, founder of the restaurant Cittamani

What led her to this venture was her great love for the Bel Paese, coupled with a deep knowledge of the gastronomic specialties of our land, which gave her an intuition: to offer Italians a never-before-seen view of India’s millenary culinary tradition with a privileged perspective, through the eyes of the forward-thinking chef. The restaurant project, which fits perfectly into a changing and ever-changing city context, took shape thanks to support in the South African company Leeu Collection and its founder, Indian-born entrepreneur Mr. Analjit Singh, who immediately believed in Dalmia’s intuition.

One of Cittamani restaurant's culinary creations
One of Cittamani restaurant’s culinary creations

The menu of Cittamani Indian restaurant between culture and innovation

Cittamani’s menu offers authentic, home-style Indian cuisine with delicate flavors, in which spices are used as tradition dictates, but in a measured manner so as to satisfy local tastes. The culinary proposal draws heavily on Indian gastronomic culture, particularly its ancient vegetarian tradition, resulting in a modern and balanced cuisine, with inspirations from typical regional dishes of the Peninsula. Not surprisingly, the ingredients used are mostly from Italy, personally selected by Ritu Dalmia during her extensive travels, during which she came into contact with small local producers. Ça va sans dire, “Not the spices”, says the celebrity chef, who assures, “those come strictly from India”.

The wine list has about sixty labels of which seventy percent are Italian. The central theme of Cittamani’s food and wine offerings is the concept of sharing: it is possible to choose from a wide variety of dishes in both small and large versions, so as to taste, experience and, indeed, share a varied and multisensory experience, in which the scents and flavors of India mingle with those familiar to us.

Interview with chef Bishnu Prasad Dhakal, who leads the Indian restaurant Cittamani

Cittamani’s multi-ethnic and highly skilled team consists of more than ten professionals with international work backgrounds. Leading the kitchen at Ritu Dalmia’s restaurant is Chef Bishnu Prasad Dhakal originally from Nepal. A professional with a culinary background in hospitality, the chef had the opportunity to train under Dalmia starting in 2004 at Diva Restaurants. In his journey, he has undertaken several significant experiences in India and abroad, which have allowed him to broaden his horizons by drawing from different culinary backgrounds and further deepening his passion for the art of food.

«Cittamani’s culinary philosophy revolves around a harmonious balance of flavors, respecting the integrity of each ingredient»

You are originally from Nuwakot, a village in Nepal. Today you are a renowned chef with an international culinary background. How has your culinary journey evolved from your beginnings and how do your country’s culinary traditions and culture come alive in your dishes?

My culinary journey has been a fascinating evolution from my roots in Nuwakot, Nepal. I draw inspiration from the rich traditions and food culture of my homeland, infusing them into my dishes to create a unique blend of flavors that reflect my heritage.

What is Cittamani’s culinary philosophy and how is it reflected in your culinary offerings?

Cittamani’s culinary philosophy revolves around a harmonious balance of flavors, respecting the integrity of each ingredient. This philosophy is evident in our dishes, in which we strive to offer a sensory experience that transcends cultural boundaries.

«Balancing Indian regional traditions with local Italian flavors at Cittamani is an art»

Cittamani is known for its regional variety of Indian dishes. How do you balance regional tradition with adaptation to local tastes? What is your approach in integrating local Italian ingredients without compromising the authenticity of Indian dishes?

Balancing regional Indian traditions with local Italian flavors at Cittamani is an art. We carefully integrate local Italian ingredients without compromising the authenticity of our Indian dishes. It is a delicate process that involves understanding the essence of both culinary worlds.

What ingredients and spices do you consider key to create high-quality Indian dishes? What are the key ingredients that define your cuisine and how do you select them?

Key ingredients and spices play a vital role in the preparation of high-quality Indian dishes. At Cittamani we prioritize ingredients such as aromatic spices, fresh herbs and quality proteins, carefully selected to define the unique character of our cuisine.

«Cittamani is committed to sustainability, which is reflected in our choice of high-quality, ethically sourced ingredients»

Cittamani is committed to sustainability and the use of high quality ingredients. What initiatives have you undertaken in this regard?

Cittamani is committed to sustainability, which is reflected in our choice of high-quality, ethically sourced ingredients. We have implemented initiatives to reduce food waste, embrace local suppliers, and contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious culinary practice.

What are the challenges and opportunities you face in bringing Indian cuisine to Milan, considering the city’s gastronomic diversity and Milan’s vibrant culinary scene?

Bringing Indian cuisine to Milan brings challenges and opportunities. Navigating Milan’s diverse culinary scene requires a thoughtful approach to stand out. We see the city’s diversity as an opportunity to showcase the richness of Indian flavors, creating a unique space for Cittamani in Milan’s vibrant culinary scene.


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