Heeding the Mantra call.

Alright, alright. I think it is about time to redeem myself, (not even knowing I got a reputation to keep in the first place anyway), from all the posts on hot models and whale saving. You guys must be confused what has gotten into this small time traveller for straying so far from home. Heh.

So, here, I return with my usual tempt of food galore and hopefully, in the foreseeable future, something more hitting-the-mark of travelling.

My ex-colleague, Pamela V, has been (kind of) bugging me for the longest time to check out Mantra over at Sunway Pyramid. So, a few weeks back I was able to heed the chants from the Vedic tradition in India and visit their humble abode to try out their food and be transformed by its art of Northern Indian culinary.

If this is your first time trying out Northern Indian cuisine, or eating at Mantra, may I suggest the Mantra Platter, an Indian tapas with a great combination of Murg Malai Tikka, Tandoori Salmon and Tandoori Leg of Lamb. The platter is also accompanied with Chutney, a famous dip made out of yoghurt and mint.

I thought it was a perfect start for a meal. The spices were not too heavy till it blinded my taste palettes, and the meats – oh, the meats – were cooked to the right tenderness. It would be impossible to have a piece and then said you are done for the day. It is a good way to sample all three main courses available in the restaurant, as well as to kick start the engine in your tummy for a more scrumptious meal to come.

Usually, for an Indian cuisine, a party of up to four may order about two or three main dishes with some rice or roti (bread) to go with the curries. Here, we ordered Butter Chicken and Lamb Rogan Josh.

The Butter Chicken is usually a favourite in the Northern Indian cuisine menu, and for Mantra it is not so different as well. Bathed in smooth tomato gravy that is spotted with swirls of yoghurt and blessed with the redolent of kassori methi. Once the heavily-coated chicken piece touches your tongue, it is an understatement why it is an all-time favourite: the zest from the Insian spices, the sourness derived from the tomatoes, and the hint of buttery taste that laps on the poultry… it is convincingly delicious enough to make you want to dip your spoon in the gravy again and again, even when the meats are all long gone.

Another must-try is the Lamb Rogan Josh, marinated in an array of Indian spices, cooked with cardamom-tinged juice, and finally, a marrow finish anointed with saffron shreds. For the teeth, the meat is tender and delicate. For the tongue, the marvellous gravy made to a perfect balance of sugar and spice.

Also to try out at Mantra is the Rumali Roti. It means ‘handkerchief bread’, deriving from the Hindi word Rumal, which means handkerchief. The bread is extremely thin, and is served folded like the handkerchief. Usually, they come in scarce slices because of its complexity in making them; the dough is to be spun in midair without it breaking.

Like the more common Roti Naan, Rumali Roti is soft and thinner. Not too oily, and not too much coated in flour. The best way to have your handkerchief bread is to dip them in the curries.

Other than the breads, rices are good to go with the curries too. The Ultimate Murg Bryani is a fair serving of Bryani rice cooked with chicken seasoned in dum spice and other traditional Indian herbs. The rice is cooked as if by the grain, as you could taste each grain individually.

Mantra also serves other Asian dishes, and we were offered a couple too that day. But we were so full from the ones above we barely paid attention to the other two:

The Pomelo Salad, which was the first on the table but we were instantly diverted when the curries came. It is a fruity Thai delight with the choice of duck, tossed in a generous drench of orange sauce to provide a tangy taste to the dish, as well as the pomelo cubes to lighten the weight from the duck meat.

And also the Spicy Crab Spaghettini, a bloating plate of pasta sieved straight from the pot, tossed with roasted cherry tomatoes and arugula, and sprinkled with crunchy pine nut. I like it that the sauce was not too much; that it was just enough to coat the pasta and give it a Asianic look to it.

For drinks, look no further and just go straight for the Mango Lassi – or the other flavours available under the lassi umbrella. Made from yoghurt and water with sprinkles of cumin, salt and pepper, and then blended till frothy. It would definitely quench your tongue from all the curries you had earlier. The best Mango Lassi I had was still the one I had in Brisbane’s Indian Kitchen, but Mantra did a pretty good job anyway with their lassi.

For desserts, opt for the Mantra Special, made out of three scoops of vanilla ice cream, crunchy peanuts and chocolate sauce – three layers of these all compressed into the glass to fill up as much of the space as possible, before topping it off with strawberry wedges. I bet all dessert lovers would love that. Alas, I could only stomach the strawberries – can’t get enough of them, especially at this side of the world. But hey, with a hearty meal like that, I would have to come back for a second round to name this meal complete!

Here, you can expect mouthwatering authentic Northern Indian cuisine attainable at an affordable price. It gets crowded during dinnertime, so if you would like some quiet time with your food, I would suggest you swing by during daytime; it is almost deserted then.

I also like their customer service. I noticed that the bosses did not let the waiters miss out on any single customer coming their way. From the moment they greet you at the door while you check out their menu, to the moment you sit down to order and have your meal, and to the moment you walk languidly out of the restaurant.

++
Mantra
Lot 3, Lot G1.42
Ground Floor
Sunway Pyramid
3, Jalan PJS 11/15
Bandar Sunway
46150 Petaling Jaya
Selangor
Malaysia
T: +6 03 7492 0488
F: +6 03 7492 0477
W: http://www.mantrasunway.com

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