Mrs. Komal Khanchandani arrived in Manila from India
with her husband Sanjay and family eight years ago.
At first, she missed the spicy victuals and vegetables
of her native land. She decided to do something about
it. She went to the best markets and groceries in the
city and hunted up the spices then approximated those
she had always been used to. Her search was not in vain.
She was soon busy in the family kitchen whipping up
the best of Indian cuisine. The aroma and flavor of
her culinary efforts soon gave her the idea to open
a restaurant in Makati.
After experimenting with a small canteen, she took the
bold step of opening a restaurant that exclusively specialized
on Indian cuisine. The result was Swagat, a word which
means "Welcome" in the Hindi language.
Swagat restaurant has the ambience of a big but cozy
dining room in a suburban home in India. Paintings with
Indian settings adorn the walls and the soft strains
of native music that Mahatma Gandhi must have enjoyed
filled the air.
is great to start the meal with a generous serving of
Dal or thick lentil soup along with a piece of Roti
or wheat bread that may be dipped in sauce. One can
choose from different kinds of spicy rice mixed with
Murgh or chicken, Anda or scrambled egg, Sangam or lean
pieces of chicken and lamb, Mutton or goat meat. The
main course may be varieties of vegetable, fish, mutton
lamb, or chicken.
What's On & Expat March 7-13, 2004
are the key to Indian cooking, and masala is the foundation.
A masala is an intricate combination of freshly ground
spices and herbs, each combination devised to suit a
makes her own masalas
she also makes her own yogurt
and paneer (a type of homemade cheese), cooks all the
dishes from scratch, and serves various Indian breads
baked fresh in her own oven. She loves to cook, and
learned the techniques of true Indian cooking from her
mother - as is usual in India. At the restaurant, she
cooks all the meals herself.
menu is extensive and very reasonably priced, running
the gamut from a large selection of deep fried appetizers
to biryanis, mutton, chicken, and seafood, breads, desserts,
and a whole plethora of vegetarian dishes. Komal is
vegetarian, and her touch with these dishes is excellent.
Manila Standard, Foodaholic, CJ Juntereal, May 2004
"Learning how to cook right is important,"
she says, "as I come from a big family."
had virtually given up on the local Indian food scene
and was simply happy to putter
around her kitchen, until Sanjay's expatriate Indian
friends noticed her cooking.
most of them were bachelors with no wives-and mothers-to
cook for them, they would crave Komal's home-cooked
meals. So they bugged her endlessly about putting up
her own Indian restaurant.
relented by opening Sangam, a hole-in-the-wall Indian
carinderia at the basement of an office building in
Makati, a few years ago. The couple's Indian friends
-- and a growing Filipino clientele -- welcomed such
a place but, as expected, they weren't totally placated.
for those who held office in the building, many found
it inaccessible," says Komal. "They kept on
nagging me to move to a bigger, more accessible place
did just that last year with the opening of Swagat Indian
Cuisine. Located at FCC Building on Rada Street, Legaspi
Village, Makati (tel. 752-5669), the eatery is a clean,
well-lit place devoid of frills.
keeping with her own standards, Komal cooks the meals
herself. Almost everything is sourced locally except
for hard-to-find Indian spices. In the name of authenticity,
Komal's relatives in India send these spices to her
haven't had a vacation since this place opened,"
she sighs. "I'm the owner, cook and manager all
rolled into one. But I love to cook-that's the problem."
Swagat offers a substantial list of vegetarian and rice
specialties from various parts of India. Its biryani
(rice) dishes, for instance, are India's version of
the Spanish paella, mixed with chicken, mutton, shrimps,
boneless fish or egg.
item on the menu happens to be our favorite," says
Komal, who hails from the southern Indian state of Andra
Pradesh. "I didn't include anything that's not."
can search our ref and see for yourself," she says
with a broad grin. "There's nothing there to reheat,
as I cook everything right after a customer makes an
meal is best capped with either the coconut burfi or
the kulfi, Komal's signature ice cream.
Inq7.net Thursday Jul. 29, 2004, Philippines
homemade ice cream is to die for.. "If you taste
my ice cream, you'll forget the others," she says
COOK, Culinary Lifestyle Magazine, June 2004
from: "A Culinary Trip to India"
by Ruth Lincoln
you've been searching for authentic Indian cuisine
in Manila, and don't have any personal connections
with the Indian community or embassy here, perhaps
you've found the local scene rather disappointingly
lacking. Sure there are the old traditional standbys
- fine if you don't mind Philippine-influenced Indian
food that can boast only a passing acquaintance with
the real thing. Newcomers on the Indian food scene,
while bearing a closer resemblance in taste and texture
to authentic Indian food, will charge you for their
upscale location, chandeliers and silverware, not
to mention the purple leather sofas at the entrance.
Alas! All is not lost. While taking a taxi through
Legaspi Village recently, I spotted an Indian restaurant
that I had not previously heard of called Swagat (meaning
welcome). Located on Rada Street (also known as Thailand
Street) this little known café was opened by
a Philippine resident of ten years who hails from
Andhra Pradesh in India. (Andhra is known for having
some of the spiciest cuisine in all of India). Apparently
the owner ran a canteen elsewhere in the city and
was urged by friends to open a larger establishment.
visited Swagat for lunch one Saturday. I found a clean,
cozy space modestly and neatly decorated. The menu
was surprisingly extensive, offering a range of appetizers,
from paneer pakoras to a variety of chaats, as well
as curries, kebabs, Indian breads (including my personal
favorite, puris) and rice dishes. The Philippine wait
staff was pleasant and efficient. More impressive
was the fact that the owner, Komal S.K. was on the
premises to answer questions and to ensure that the
food and service is kept up to standards. While I
was there, another expatriate walked in and inquired
how long the restaurant had been open.
was pleasantly surprised to find all of the dishes
fresh, individually spiced, and ungreasy. There were
no firestarters and I didn't have to find myself having
to remove whole spices from any of the offerings as
one finds doing in some other Indian restaurants.
This is simple, home-cooked Indian food at its best.
- worth a visit!
© Swagat Indian Cuisine . 2005 . All Rights Reserved