Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Get curried away

FRAGRANT and colorful, the breathtakingly diverse Indian cuisine is as much a feast to the eyes and nose as it is to the palate. Each dish comprises a medley of spices that yield bold flavors and intoxicating aromas, which can at times be overwhelming to some. As Indian cuisine greatly varies from region to region, it is not all gravy-based meat and vegetable stews.

This is what Bharat Spice is slowly introducing to Cebu. A 35-seat restaurant in Cebu IT Park, it is a laid-back venue that has already gained a dedicated following among Indians, Japanese, Koreans and Filipinos because of its authentic traditional and regional Indian dishes.

Here, there is no Bollywood music blasting through speakers, no Bollywood movie posters plastered on walls, and no belly dancers. “We wanted a restaurant where you can tell it’s Indian by its food, not by a sort of caricature of what our culture is,” said Vijay Vasandani II, proprietor of Bharat Spice.

We also learned that every Indian dish has at least seven different ingredients, each of which brings a unique flavor. “There are no shortcuts to genuine Indian food. You must get the right kinds of spices in the right ratios, not replace one with something else and try to get away with it,” he added.

Some of the dishes that Vijay recommends are the Masala Papad, a mung bean crisp topped with onions, tomatoes, and spices; Masala Dosa, made from mung bean batter and cooked on the back of a wok; Butter Chicken, shredded chicken (dark meat) in a tomato and butter-based gravy; Palak Paneer, cottage cheese, which they make themselves, in a spinach-based gravy; Onion Pakoda, the Indian version of onion rings, served with mint chutney; and the Vegetable Manchurian, fried vegetable balls in a sweet and tangy sauce. Naan is best for scooping up the rich gravies.

Masala Chai, brewed with spices, makes for a perfect ending to a filling meal. If that is not your cup of tea, there’s lassi, the yogurt base of which is also homemade.

Bharat Spice has VIP rooms on the second level, which can seat an additional 35 to 40 persons. It is open every day from 11 a.m. to midnight. Find it at the CJRS Bldg., Cebu IT Park, right beside Chibori.

Did you know?

“Bharat” is how the Indians refer to their country, with that sense of pride similar to what Filipinos have when they say, “Ang bayan kong Pilipinas.”
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