An Answered Prayer To North Indian Cuisine: Mantra Bistro
If you’re on the search for genuine North Indian tandoori-inspired cuisine here in our fair city; the little mantra to chant under your breath, would be Mantra Bistro. Located at the rear of the Grand Midori building, entrance on Bolanos St., Legaspi Village, Makati, this unassuming eatery has been around for more than a year, quietly gaining avid followers. The enthusiasm it garners derives mainly from the fact that unlike other Indian restaurants that tone down on the spices and ingredients to gain wider acceptance from Filipino diners, Mantra’s Ranjit Chimni is out to be as authentic as possible, and gift us with the true richness of the flavours of his native cuisine.
Ranjit has spent more than 15 years in the BPO industry and over half of that tenure here in the Philippines; and Mantra is his longtime pipe dream come true. While specialising in North Indian cooking, the eatery is relatively neutral in terms of its’ interior - the throw pillows and bric-a-brac the major concession to what’s happening in the kitchen.
Perusing the menu the first time I ate at Mantra, the Tandoor Section is what immediately beguiled. In the Vegetarian Subsection, I opted for the Green Pea Tikki and they were like mini-stuffed grilled pancakes. The Tandoori Broccoli looked very enticing, Broccoli florets marinated with Cheese, Lemon & Grilled. The Maki Kebab are Sweet Corn Patties. The regular Tikkas and Kebabs are also found in this Tandoor Section.
Mantra’s Vegetarian Green Pea Tikki
The main course I can heartily recommend is the Chicken Makhani; boneless buttered filets of Chicken Roasted in the Tandoor, and mixed with Creamy Tomato and Cashew Nut Sauce. It’s got the right kind of kick, spice-wise. There are Chicken, Fish, and Prawn Curries, and a slew of Goat dishes that I’ll try on my next visit.
Chicken Makhani and Zeera Rice
Vegetarian Mains include a Kadai and a Palak Paneer. Dal (Lentils) dishes are also to be found. The Zeera Rice is a bountiful bowl, good for sharing; while the Tandoor Roti and Naan are freshly baked, and given a delicious, smoky flavour.
The Family-style serving of Salmon Fillets
Leave room for Dessert; as the Gulab Jamun, with Cardamom Syrup, is to die for. Ditto for the Kulfi, Indian Ice Cream with Pistachios.
The Gulab Jalum, in Cardamom Syrup
What clinched the deal for me and had me searching for Mantra is how discriminating Indian ex-pats, like Rahul Hora of AXA, gave me the proverbial thumbs up when we were conversing about their best Indian restaurants here in Manila, and Mantra Bistro was mentioned. This would be akin to patronising the Japanese restaurants frequented by Japanese ex-pats.
That Mantra Bistro is centrally located but found in a back street may have kept it off the beaten path, but it’s well worth the search!
Mantra Bistro, The Grand Midori , G-07, Bolanos Street, Legaspi Village, Makati Photos from @mantrabistro