Mira’s Cafe: Plant-Based Fusion Fare with an Indian-Asian Focus

Rahul and Pia Bharadhaj, owners of Mira’s Cafe in Fairfield

Mira’s Cafe, opened by husband and wife team Rahul and Pia Bharadwaj in Fairfield, offers an exciting array of fusion cuisine, drawing inspiration from traditional Indian-Asian fare, as well as flavors from all over the world.

The Bharadwajs are widely traveled Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. 20 years ago. Tired of big city life, they moved to Fairfield from Louisville, Kentucky, after viewing a YouTube video of Jim Carrey’s 2014 commencement address at MIU. Immediately intrigued, they arranged to visit Fairfield, and when they found out Betsy Howland was selling the Revelations Cafe space, it seemed serendipitous.

Menu offerings at Mira’s Café range from plant-based versions of classic North Indian dishes such as malai kofta and tikka masala to South Indian dosas and idlis, to seasonal curries, chow mein street noodles, soups, salads, and a variety of pizzas. They inherited the pizza oven when they bought Revelations and were excited by the opportunity to try fusion pizzas. All dishes are plant-based and delicious.

The cafe is the fulfillment of Rahul’s longtime dream to start a restaurant. A chemical engineer with a Ph.D., Rahul has “always wanted to do something in the culinary world.” Growing up, he was passionate about both engineering and cooking. Although he chose to pursue degrees in engineering over going to culinary school, Rahul continued to refine his culinary skills at home. Frequent trips to Europe exposed him to an assortment of flavors he would replicate and experiment with on his return, creating the best taste combinations.

Pia, an HR specialist practiced in recognizing how talent can be developed and fulfilled, saw her husband’s culinary genius and wanted to do whatever she could to bring his talents to a wider audience. “I ate his food all day, being his wife. So I knew that there was great potential.” Over the years, they discussed how to realize his restaurant dream, and had been actively looking for a space for the last five years.

Rahul and his family became vegan in 2020 to help him manage a chronic health issue. Using his formidable expertise in culinary experimentation, he successfully mimicked the flavor and mouthfeel of all their favorite meat-based dishes. He says embarking on a plant-based diet, like any lifestyle change, can feel daunting and restricting, because it requires eliminating so many familiar ingredients.

“If you explore alternative grains and other ingredients,” he says, “you’ll find so many ways to help you recreate dishes, and you do not even miss what you had.” Rahul says they use recipes that are naturally plant-based or can easily be made with a plant-based source, and strive to make dishes that no one can tell are free of meat, dairy, or cheese.

Mira’s Cafe is committed to using real, clean food. Their ingredients are non-GMO, organic, and as unprocessed as possible. “We don’t compromise on quality,” Rahul explains. “Food is the fuel that you’re using to make new cells to build your body. Clean food elevates that to the next level.”

The dosa and idli batter are made the traditional way—naturally fermented and specially ground in-house. Rahul has also created the non-dairy lassi base, cashew cheese, and chicken-style tofu they use. “Anytime we have to process food, we try to do it ourselves. We don’t use any preservatives or artificial food colors or flavors. We want to keep the food real.”

All the Indian dishes are naturally gluten-free, and there are gluten-free options for the pizza. Instead of refined white sugar, they use unrefined, low-glycemic sweeteners.

An important aspect of café management for the Bharadwajs is keeping the kitchen as stress-free as possible. Their philosophy is to “become the employer of choice,” which involves not being understaffed so as to avoid unnecessary pressure in the kitchen, treating the entire team with respect, and creating a positive atmosphere in the kitchen. “We’ll do whatever we can so that cooking is a pleasant experience,” Pia explains. “And we want to be open to innovation.”

Mira’s Cafe may have a slightly higher price point than other area restaurants, but this is because of their commitment to clean ingredients and having a full staff.

Café Mira’s Cafe gets its name from a combination of syllables—“Mitu” from Pia’s nickname, and “Ra” from Rahul. “Mira” also references famous 16th-*century Hindu mystic poet Mirabai, a devotee of Krishna. Rahul likes this callback to devotion in their name, and feels it establishes their desire to be of service through their food. “Let food be thy medicine,” Pia quotes.

Mira’s Cafe is located at 112 N. Main St. in Fairfield. For more information, visit Miras-Cafe.com.