That Indian cuisine continues to win over more and more followers is apparent in five-star hotels and resorts.
Last year, Shangri-La Mactan updated the Indian selection at Tides, its all-day dining outlet, as well as its in-room dining menu following the arrival of its Indian chef.
Over at Mandarin Oriental Manila, changes are also afoot since Indian sous chef Laxminarayan Ray came on board. The a la carte and buffet menus at Paseo Uno and the in-room dining menu will feature a wider selection by Ray.
“We see the growing number of Indian food lovers in the Philippines, and note that travelers from India are an emerging market,” executive chef Rene Ottlik said. “We will introduce something new and different to our guests while keeping the distinct taste of traditional Indian cuisine.”
Not for vegetarians only
During a recent food tasting, the chef prepared a vegetarian version of appetizers and main dishes. Although no one among the guests, which included Indian Ambassador Amit Dasgupta, was vegetarian, we still requested for this version so we could taste, savor and compare them with the meat dishes.
Ray’s minced vegetable skewers were as tasty but much healthier than his minced lamb skewers with bell pepper. His creamy tandoori broccoli also managed to hold its own against the tandoori prawns that were marinated with cheese and dill.
The paneer tikka (cottage cheese marinated with tandoori spices) was as filling as his tulsi murgh tikka (chicken marinated with basil leaves and cheese).
“With the arrival of Laxminarayan Ray, fans of Indian cuisine can look forward to authentic dishes. We have no intention of serving Indian fare that has been toned down, because we want our customers to experience the real flavors of India,” director of food and beverage Peter Pysk said.
Those who want to try Ray’s cooking but are wary of the spice level can choose from his other dishes—vegetable samosas, black lentils cooked with butter and cream, and braised lamb shanks cooked with onions and tomatoes.
One of the main dishes served that evening was braised lamb shanks topped with pastry shell. As one gingerly lifted the cover, the heady aroma of meat and spices wafted. This is best eaten with Raita (churned yoghurt with cumin), as the tartness of the yoghurt cuts the richness of the lamb.
We learned that after a heavy meal like the one we had, a cup of hot masala chai (spiced tea) was the perfect digestive. Still, the chef prepared a dessert plate consisting of pistachio kulfi (ice cream) and carrot-rich cake.
Ray, who goes by his nickname Laxmi, has worked in notable restaurants and five-star hotels in India. These include Oberoi Cecil in Shimla; Trident Banda Kurla in Mumbai; Movenpick Hotel and Spa in Bangalore; and Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa.
He joined Mandarin Oriental Manila in December 2012 and is excited to raise Indian cuisine to a new level in Manila.
The Indian a la carte menu is available daily at Paseo Uno and for guests’ in-room dining for lunch, 12 noon-2:30 p.m., and for dinner, 6:30-10 p.m. Selected dishes will be featured in the restaurant’s daily lunch and dinner buffets. Call 7508888.