The local foodie scene is teeming with restaurants serving different kinds of Asian cuisines. From Japanese and Chinese food to Peranakan cuisine, Metro Manila seems to have it all. But despite the growing number of Asian restaurants in the country, not many foodies are familiar with or are a fan of Indian food. In fact, there aren’t many restaurants in the metro that serve this cuisine.
We can blame it on whatever preconceived ideas we have about Indian food but fact of the matter is, there’s so much to learn and appreciate about this cuisine. So if you find yourself eager to discover Indian food or you just want to change your opinions about it, here are five Indian dishes you can start with!
1. Indian Curry
Despite being frequently associated to Thai cuisine, curry didn’t actually originate from Thailand. In fact, this aromatic and flavorful dish traces its beginnings to India! The word is derived from the Tamil word ‘kari’ which, when translated, means spiced sauce.
There are different kinds of curry and its preparation actually depends on the region it comes from! Regions in southern India, for example, makes use of lamb and chicken as the main protein of their curry, which are flavored with potatoes, coconut paste, and coconut milk!
An example of a popular curry dish is the Butter Chicken. Originally from Delhi, the chicken spends several hours in a marinade made up of yogurt, cream, and a spice mix that includes garam masala, ginger, garlic, and turmeric. The chicken is then cooked in a traditional clay oven called the tandoor and served in a mild curry sauce that has butter in it.
2. Tandoori Chicken
Speaking of the tandoor, another popular Indian dish cooked using this cylindrical oven is the Chicken Tandoori. It is said to be created in 1947 by Kundan Lal Gujral, who owned a restaurant in Delhi called Moti Mahal Delux.
To cook Chicken Tandoori, the chicken is first marinated in yogurt and a spice mix known as Tandoori Masala. To give it its signature color, there are high amounts of cayenne pepper, red chili powder, and turmeric which are included in this spice mix. The chicken is then placed on skewers before they’re lowered inside the tandoor.
Similar to the empanada and pierogie, a samosa is a deep-fried or baked pastry stuffed with a savory filling. It’s a famous snack or entree in different countries, particularly in India, whose version makes use of wheat flour.
The filling of an Indian samosa is usually made from mashed boiled potatoes, onions, green peas, and spices, although sweet fillings commonly made from fruits can also be used to make sweet samosas. Once it’s cooked, samosas are typically served with chutney at the side.
Like the samosa, naan is another food that is not exclusive to India but is very famous in the country. The naan is a type of oven-cooked flatbread that is made up of white flour, salt, yeast, and yogurt.
You can commonly find dishes such as the Butter chicken and other Indian curries served with naan, which is used to scoop up the remaining sauce. But naan can also be eaten on its own as a snack or dipped in some chutney or raita, a sauce that is composed of yogurt, cilantro, mint, and cumin, among other herbs.
5. Saag Paneer
Filipino foodies sure love creamy spinach dips, which are commonly found in Italian restaurants in the metro. But did you know that Indian cuisine has its own version? It’s called Saag Paneer!
Served with naan or roti, a Saag is made from spinach and any other leafy greens like mustard leaves. What makes a Saag a Saag Paneer is the inclusion of the paneer, a type of fresh farmer cheese made from milk, lemon juice, and vinegar.
Craving for Indian food? Here are some Indian restaurants in the metro
1. New Bombay
If there’s a restaurant that is most synonymous to Indian cuisine in the metro, it’s probably New Bombay. New Bombay’s menu features a wide array of Indian dishes, including a variety of tandoori specialties, paneer, as well as vegetarian dishes. Try the chicken tikka biryani, tandoori chicken, and mutton mirchi masala, which Paolo S. said he absolutely enjoyed in his looloo review.
New Bombay has branches all over the metro.
2. Royal Indian Curry House
As its name suggests, Royal Indian Curry House specializes in mouthwatering curry dishes that are full of flavor! Don’t miss out on the Laas Maas, which is made up of mutton, chili paste, and coriander. There’s also the Butter Chicken, whose combination of flavors is described by Reich T. as “assault on your palate — in a good way” in her looloo review, sharing that she “was wowed by the first bite.”
Looking for some naan to pair your curry with? Go for the Cheese Naan! “It is super cheesy,” Clarissa P. describes in her looloo review. “It’s best paired with any of the curry dishes because CHEESE! Makes everything taste better!”
Royal Indian Curry House is located at 5354 General Luna Street corner Makati Avenue, Poblacion, Makati, and at Seaside Boulevard, SM by The Bay, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay.
3. Om Indian Kitchen
Find yourself in the Pasig area and with an Indian food craving? Then head straight to Om Indian Kitchen! Often dubbed as the “best samosas in town,” Om Indian Kitchen’s take on the samosas are a hit among foodies. “The beef is perfectly seasoned,” Muffy T. says in her looloo review. “The pastry is crispy but light. Will be back for these.” For the maximum flavor, don’t forget to dip it in the provided sauce!
In his looloo review, AlwaysHungryPh P. praises the Vegetable Kofta, saying that it’s “not your ordinary meatball.” “It brings various vegetables and rounds it up with signature spices. Its sauce had a nice kick of chili and intense presence of tomato, a nice combination.”
Om Indian Kitchen is located at G/F The Grove by Rockwell, E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue, Pasig