A Taste of Incredible India
Manila, Philippines — As the metropolis got quarantined for more than two months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a popular but unassuming restaurant quietly marked its 17th year of offering authentic Indian dishes.
Swagat Indian Cuisine was unable to extend its warm hospitality to its diners but continued to food reach its patrons in the comfort of their homes via Grab Food, Honest Bee, Food Panda, and Lala Food delivery service.
The unassuming restaurant was opened by Indian migrant Komal Khanchandani in the summer of 2003 in Rada St., Legazpi Village in Makati on a wing and prayer, at a fortuitous time of a Hindu religious feast.
Literally meaning “welcome” in the Hindi language, Swagat helped make Indian food a staple in the country’s financial district.
Now at its new home at The Columns at Amorsolo St. cor. Arnaiz Ave., it continues to tickle the local palate with its healthy, homestyle dishes and Khanchandani’s personal touch which has made Swagat hold its own against its fancier competitors.
For appetizers, there is bhel puri and sev puff rice, or methi aloo matter potatoes with green peas cooked with fenugreek leaves and flavored spices or palak pakora, deep-fried spinach and spices rolled in chickpea flour.
Main dishes worth trying are malai kofta, a North Indian dish of cheese and vegetable patties cooked in butter sauce; Chicken tikka, tender, skinless and boneless chicken marinated in ginger and garlic; fish palak, cooked in mild spices, with spinach and sauce; mutton masala, goat meat cooked in onions, tomatoes, and spices.
An all-time favorite is sangam biryani or flavored spicy Indian rice with lean, tender pieces of chicken, lamb, cooked in herbs and spices. It has variants such as murgh (chicken), mutton, anda (scrambled egg), and shrimp.
Lassi yoghurt drinks with milk and flavored with either strawberry, mango or rose petals is the standard refreshment.
For customer’s satisfaction, food is prepared based on their preference of mild, medium, hot or extra hot.
A resident of the Philippines for more than 20 years now, Swagat has captured the preferences of her regular guests, as well as the Filipino taste buds.
It is a “halal” restaurant ideal for Muslim diners and has a wide array of vegetable dishes for vegetarians, which include the metro’s Indian community.
The restaurant occasionally brings in ingredients, implements and paraphernalia, and food concepts from Andra Pradesh state where the owner hails.
And with the gradual opening up of restaurants for dine-in customers, guests can experience dining under quarantine health protocols.
Seventeen years and one pandemic later, Khanchandani still exudes with confidence and poses the same challenge to diners since day one: “Don’t pay if you are not satisfied with the food.”