What makes Indian food exciting is the medley of spices that seduce the palate.
More than chilies and curries, Indian dishes are also infused with aromatics such as saffron and cardamom, turmeric, coriander, mint and mace.
Dry rose petals and black stone flower add color and make the food extra fragrant.
At Spiral, Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s popular buffet restaurant, Indian cuisine will be showcased on Sept. 11-17 in line with the hotel’s Flavors of the World series (P2,600 for lunch; P3,100 for dinner).
At a recent lunch, Sofitel chef de cuisine Halim Ali Khan showed how Indian food fuses spices into delectable flavors—even in the desserts.
Khan grew up in Odisha, a state in Eastern India, where he picked up traditional Indian recipes handed down from villages and families.
He worked in several hotels in India before cooking for Sofitel Manila, where he serves an array of regional items in Spiral’s North Indian Atelier (one of the buffet’s 21 food stations).
He’s particularly proud of the starters and sweets.
Sev Puri is a popular bite-size Indian street snack. At Spiral, it is a DIY spectacle with its own corner of fillings and condiments (like make-your-own tacos).
To assemble, get a puri or a puffy, hollow crispy round shell. Crack the top open and fill with what you fancy: potatoes, onions, lentils, yogurt, chili, chutney—but don’t forget to top with the sev or sprinkles of fried chickpea noodles.
Cheese gets a twist through Palak Paneer, a green bowl of cubed fresh cheese in a sauce of pureed spinach and spices.
For dessert, Khan suggests having a ball or two of Gulab Jamun or “bite-size sweets made by mixing milk and flour into a dough, then deep-frying them into fritters.” Usually called “Indian doughnuts,” Gulab Jamun is served swimming in a bowl of rose-flavored syrup.
Other desserts are Gajar Ka Halwa or sweet carrot pudding, and the Semiyankheer, sweet and milky vermicelli noodles.
The Lamb Rogan Josh is a delectable dish of lamb braised in yoghurt, shallots and spices until tender. It is best with hot naan bread served toasty off the griddle.
The Masala Fried Fish is done savory crispy, and may be paired with the Yellow Dal Tadka, a popular Punjabi lentil dish made rich with ghee.
Biryani rice-friendly Indian dishes such as Buttered Chicken, Chiken Tikka, Shrimp Tandoori, Prawn Curry will also be available on rotation.
For cooking enthusiasts, Khan will be holding an Indian cooking class (P1,500 per person) on Sept. 12, 4 p.m., at Sofitel’s Davao and Boracay Show Kitchens. He will teach how to prepare two Indian dishes: Onion Pakora with Tamarind Chutney, and Chicken Korma.
Gourmands who prefer intimate dining may join the Chef’s Table lunch (P2,600 per person) on Sept. 14 with a three-course menu: Kebab Platter; Indian Thali (dal, paneer, chicken, lamb and chapati); and Gajar Ka Alwa.
The Sofitel Indian festival is co-presented by the Indian Embassy in celebration of India’s 70th year of independence.