Swagat Indian Cuisine: A Taste of Incredible India

India, an exotic sub-continent in South Asian country, boasts of a thousand-year old diverse cultural heritage. And while its cuisine is among the most-sought after in the world, it is still very foreign to most Filipinos and yet capture local taste buds.

So when Indian migrant Komal Khanchandani opened her restaurant 17 years ago in Makati, little did she expect that it will help break many myths against Indian food and make it a byword in the heart of the country’s financial district.

The unassuming restaurant is named Swagat Indian Cuisine, which literally means “welcome” in the Hindi language.

It has no banghra musicians, belly dancers, oor ornate interiors. The only Indian-inspired design motifs are a couple of framed hand weaves, a few brass sculptures, Bollywood music videos, and its waitresses dressed occasionally in traditional sari dresses.

What it lacks in the frills department, it more than compensates with its tasty and healthful dishes, home-style cooking and the personal touch of its solicitous proprietress which have made Swagat hold its own against the fancier restaurants of its time.

Guests can start off with bhel puri and sev puff rice appetizers, 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. 

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Among its bestsellers is the sangam biryani or flavored spicy Indian rice with lean, tender pieces of chicken, and lamb cooked in herbs and spices. Other biryani variants are murgh (chicken), mutton, anda (scrambled egg), and shrimp.

Other entrees 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; and mutton masala, goat meat cooked in onions, tomatoes, and Indian spices.

All orders are done to customer’s liking of mild, medium, hot or extra hot. Despite its vast offerings, the menu continues to evolve to always offer a fresh twist to all-too familiar fare. 

For refreshments, there is lassi yoghurt drinks with milk and flavored with strawberry, mango, or rose petals.

Swagat has also positioned itself as a vegetarian and “halal” restaurant to cater to Muslim customers, and vegan diners, which includes Indian residents in the metro.

The restaurant occasionally brings in fresh ingredients, authentic implements, and paraphernalia, and food concepts from Andra Pradesh state.

Its home-style cooking and affordable pricing has made it one of metro’s top restaurants in the annual lists of Esquire Magazine, Summit Media Publishing, and Master Card. It also bagged the best Indian Restaurant Award in the Philippine Quality Awards for Business Excellence, the Global Brands Awards, and was nominated in the Manila-Best Kept Secret Restaurants.

For foodies in various parts of the big city craving for Indian food, it delivers via Honest Bee, Food Panda, and Lala Food.

For almost two decades, Swagat still brims with confidence and poses the same dare to diners since Day 1: “Don’t pay if you are not satisfied with the food.”

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