Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kashmir: The Best Indian Food in Manila

Jericho had bought a Groupon for Kashmir and was nice enough to share it with me! Woo hoo! For authentic Indian food, Kashmir is the only place that qualifies (at least in my book), all their other counterparts are put to shame. I know they say they're Persian-Indian, but nowadays they're more Indian-Malaysian. We hit up the branch along Pasay Road on a late Sunday afternoon, and were pleasantly surprised that there was only one other customer there.

You know the Indian restaurant has good taste when they don't go overboard with the tacky ginormous chairs and tables, the staff is dressed in professional Indian garb (not in saris with their bellies hanging out), are well-mannered and know their Indian cuisine (most Filipinos who work at Indian restaurants here have no clue about the food being served). My bar for a classy Indian restaurant is the lack of campy Indian music blaring, or worse, TVs scattered around the restaurant with Bollywood videos on loop.

We walked in and were shown to our table, with the bluesy drawl of Andy Williams singing Moon River in the background. The waitstaff gave us space to look through their menu, and I recommended a few new dishes for Jericho to try along with my staple - the Chicken Tikka Masala!

Opting to try something other than Samosas (P140), or the "Indian Empanadas" as J calls it, we had two orders of Papadam (P35) instead - two toasted crisp lentil wafers, pressed with mild spices. J was hooked on the stuff and wanted more, I suggested that we drop by Assam by Bel Air and buy packets to toast or fry at home.

I ordered Chai Milk Tea to go with the meal, confident it wouldn't disappoint (it is Kashmir after all). The traditional Indian tea was pretty strong, and I could taste hits of the crushed cloves, cinnamon, fresh ginger, whole black pepper, and cardamon pods with every sip. Ah, I missed this!

Everybody is familiar with Britain's "national dish", the Chicken Tikka Masala (P450). The spicy boneless chicken pieces were be coated in curry made out of a medley of spices and coconut cream. The waitstaff advised that we stick to the mild version of this (poor sod doesn't know about my love affair with chili), but we asked for the masala dish to be served how they would to their Indian clientele - really spicy. We were not disappointed. The first bite was an explosion of spice (chilies and actual Indian spices), with more spice slowly creeping in and settling on the tongue. It was rich, creamy, and just marvelous!

Palak Paneer (P300) was something new for Jericho, and I was initially a bit wary on whether or not he'd take to the vegetarian dish. It may not be the most photogenic meal of the bunch, but that shiz was good! Comprised of fresh cottage cheese and spinach that is simmered in a tangy, creamy gravy, Palak Paneer is like an Indian version of your regular spinach dip, except that this is an actual meal, and is way better than plain old dip. Of course Jericho loved it, and was sopping up the dish with bread, savoring every piece of crumbly cheese and spinach-y gravy.

Their biryani dishes were good for at least four people, which was too much for just me and J. Well, no, that would be lying - we just weren't into rice that day. Since our two entrées were quite saucy, we got an order of Naan (P120), and it's Malay counterpart, Roti Chanai (P90), to sop up all the goodness at the bottom of the bowls. It would be such a shame to let such good things go to waste!

For dessert, out came another order of Chai Milk Tea and Gulab Jammu - a dough made mainly of milk solids, rolled into a ball together with a bit of flour, deep fried at a low temperature, and then rolled in a sugar syrup flavored with cardamom seeds and rosewater before being sprinkled with ground up pistachios. You could really taste the rosewater that seeped into the dough balls. It was so good, I wanted more. A bit of self restraint, woman!

By the end of the meal, we were happily stuffed, with a bit left for takeaway. Kashmir is definitely one of those restaurants we'll keep coming back to when we're mucking around Makati. I've still to find an Indian restaurant that would best them in terms of the quality of the food and the service.

Festejo Building,
816 Pasay Road, Makati City
+63 2 844 4924
Open Daily: 10 am - 9 pm