Indian national Manjinder “James” Kumar and his wife Bianca open an exciting Indian restaurant at the heart of the metro in Eastwood City—part of their commitment to help promote Indian culture in the Philippines. And what best way to do it best than through food, and the many traditions that come with it.
Swaadisht, which translates to “delicious” in Hindi, is youngish at only over a year old, but it’s easy to understand why it immediately got a good following. Surprisingly, the crowd it’s attracted are a balance mix of Indian nationals, expats, and Filipinos.
Here’s a rundown on why Swaadisht Cuisine & Bar is the place to be if you want to be transported to India even for a couple of hours.
Swaadisht’s maiden branch in Eastwood is a two-storey edifice with an easy breezy al fresco area and an alluring skyline on the second floor offering a view of the neighboring towers at day, and a dramatic starry sky at night. These are complemented by the restaurant’s predominant brown and earthen tones, Indian-inspired accents like swirls on walls, framed Indian-theme prints and sculptures, and a façade with curvy lintel.
Occasional events showcase bangra and belly dancing performances; cricket matches are aired live in cricket season; and on weekends, Indian pop music vis-à-vis famous continental music play in the background.
Authentic Indian cuisine at heart
Authentic Indian cuisine is the piece ‘de resistance of Swaadisht. Aside from having an Indian-trained kitchen crew led by Nepalese chef Bishnu Khatri, the food served to guests are made using traditional cooking methods and ingredients flown in from India.
A bestseller at Swaadisht is the Tandoori—meat and vegetable skewers cooked using a tandoor, India’s brick oven counterpart. It brings forth some nuant smokiness in the Indian spice-marinated chicken or prawn, which is easily enjoyed with basmati rice, Indian bread (try garlic naan, also cooked in a tandoor), and beer or red wine.
Curries are another favored main. If there’s one thing to understand about Indian cooking, it’s the consistent generous presence of key ingredients tomato, onion, garlic, ginger and gram masala. The stars of Swaadisht’s curry category are rogan josh, a Kashmiri cuisine of slow cooked mutton; and murg makhani (buttered chicken), chicken slowly cooked in spiced tomato, butter and cream. The homemade chicken curry is like what you’re served if you’re invited in an Indian household: curried chicken in spices with lots of ginger—hearty and filling at once. Most of Swaadisht’s curries have fish, prawn and vegetarian varieties.
Swaadisht also prides itself for its topnotch vegetarian—perfecting the category is brought forth by the main market’s demand, since many Indians adhere to plant-based diet because of their beliefs and culture. Swaadisht bestsellers are adas soup (adas is lentil), dal tadka (lentil curry), rajma (kidney beans in tomato and spice sauce), aloo gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower in Indian spices), and paneer or Indian cottage cheese, which can be serve curried, grilled, or batter-fried.
An Indian lunch or dinner is not complete without eating it with traditional Indian bread (naans, chapatti); biryani rice (meat- and spice-infused basmati rice); lassi (yoghurt drink, which at Swaadisht is made from scratch); and masala tea.
Indian festivals and festivities at center stage
A handful of important Indian festivals are celebrated at Swaadisht. This year, forthcoming festivals to take center stage are Karwa Chauth (November 4), a romantic festival that celebrates the life of husbands through the wives’ sacrifice and prayer. This is followed by the Diwali Festival on November 14. Diwali, which is pretty much like Filipino Christmas and New Year’s Day combined, is also called Festival of Lights, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness. In March this year, Swaadisht celebrated the Holi Festival, a Hindu fun festivity centered on love, and embodied through colorful executions.
Watch out for the opening of Swaadisht at Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Follow Swaadisht on www.facebook.com/SwaadishtManila.