Monday, September 20, 2010

Hot Stuff, Baby

Eating and writing had to take a backseat for a few months. Food has become but a mere necessity, something that I needed to keep me alive and energized as I run about my daily routine. It’s almost like my world got a bit dreary, almost black and white. I miss the excitement of holding the menu of a new restaurant in my hand, scanning the items and feeling my heart leap out of my chest when I discover a dish with promise. I long for the well-loved dishes at my favorite restaurants, chatting with the servers and owners that I am friendly with and sharing a good laugh with my foodie buddies. Food and writing are two of my greatest loves, and my grown-up responsibilities forced me to neglect them.

One weekend, I made a conscious effort to get back into the business of eating for fun and writing about it. After accompanying Matt at Saturday service, we decided to check out Burgos Circle at Bonifacio Global City. I saw some interesting places that I saved for dinner with friends or family, but Matt and I wanted a meal that was casual, quick and- most importantly- good. We venture to the quieter side of Burgos Circle and found two small restaurants at the ground floor of a residential building- one was Japanese, and the other, Indian. The Indian menu captured our attention, so we settled into a corner table in their small dining room.

Namaste (which is a spoken salutation which originated from Bhuddist India and Nepal) India is owned and operated by the owners of Swagat in Legaspi Village, Makati. The menu boasts of authentic Indian cuisine which consists of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Their dining room is simple and cozy, like a neighborhood eatery, but trimmed with a few Indian tapestries and ornaments.

We ordered our lunch from the friendly server (complete with the musical jingling of her coin belt) and requested that the spice level be “medium”. We were forewarned by the menu that all dishes would take 15-20 minutes to prepare, since everything is cooked-to-order, so we patiently waited despite our rumbling tummies. The wait was not unbearable though, as soon we were served our appetizer- Harhabhara Kabab. One look at that dish and I automatically whip out my camera for the first time in months. This starter of vegetarian patties is made of mashed potato and spinach, flavored with coriander, chilies and other spices. The contrast in texture is excellent- from the smoothness of the mashed potato to the subtle crunch of the fried crust and whole almonds. The flavors are so distinctly Indian, and the spice level is perfect for us. This dish is a great alternative to the usual Crispy Papad and Samosas.

With the Naan bread and fluffy Basmati rice, out came our two main dishes- Chicken Tikka Masala and Mutton Kofta.

We love ordering Chicken Tikka Masala at Indian restaurants because of the rich, flavorful sauce. Namaste’s version is just as good as its fine-dining counterparts. What I noticed, though, was that it had a sweetish, tangy, kiamoy-like finish. Not really an Indian food expert, I don’t know if that was a good thing. I liked it, though, and was happy to scoop up the sauce and small chunks of chicken with the Naan bread.

Matt and I also shared the Mutton Kofta, which we were hesitant to order because we have never tried this before. Luckily, the goat meatballs in a thick brown curry were delicious. The meatballs were juicy and perfectly-flavored, while the heady, aromatic sauce was meaty and robust. We will surely order this again when we return with a healthy heap of Basmati rice.

To cleanse our palate of the strong and piquant flavors, we shared a scoop of Kulfi or homemade Indian ice cream. The only flavor available was pistachio, and we did not mind. The kulfi was served in a beautiful copper goblet, and upon closer inspection, had tiny flecks of ground pistachio in it. This is definitely not the seafoam green concoctions you would often find in ice cream stands at malls. Although the consistency could be smoother, I appreciated the authentic flavors of pistachio and moderate sweetness. Matt-who once finished 48 scoops of ice cream in the middle of a harsh German winter- proclaims this to be a winner.

We will surely return to try more of their specialties, and we will definitely order the Mutton Kofta and Harhabhara Kabab again. Our only issue with Namaste is the small portions, but I suppose that is their way of keeping their price point lower. In any case, their hot and sexy Indian spices got me writing again, and that I truly appreciate.

Namaste India
Unit 1A Kensington Place
1st Ave. cor. 29th St., Burgos Circle
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Tel. no. (632) 4036088