Filipino culture, as many would say, is an amalgamation of varying influences, mostly from our early conquerors the Spanish and the Americans, and with a nice stream of immigrants from China, and to some extent, India.
Though most of our introduction to Indian culture was about myth and folklore to scare children and an unbelievably one-sided payment arrangement for incurred financial obligations, that ended there, fortunately. There is one part of Indian culture, their cuisine specifically, that may also have had a strong influence on the Filipino palate, especially when it involves the use of a wide array of spices. We Filipinos like our food salty, sour, or sweet, an incredibly vibrant tapestry of tastes that may also trace its roots to Indian food.
The Indians were undoubtedly virtuosos when it came to the accurate use of spices such as coriander seeds, mustard seeds, nutmeg, cumin, turmeric, and coriander, to name a few, that punctuated the characteristics of a unique cuisine that has captured the imagination of many food lovers around the world, the Philippines is one of them, and may have influenced Filipino cuisine, to some extent.
A fascination for Indian food
“THE fascination for Indian food among Filipinos may have begun perhaps due to Filipinos working overseas. Many of them got to taste Indian food and they loved it. It’s healthy and delicious, and that made it popular then, and even more popular now among the young generation of Filipinos,” says Rajan Veeranan, Indian Master Chef at Prana, the newest Indian restaurant in the city located at Novotel Manila Araneta City in Quezon City in an exclusive interview with BusinessMirror.
Chef Veeranan said many people now enjoy the kebabs, the biryanis, and essentially the curries, all cooked naturally, nothing deep-fried, no chemicals, just pure, unadulterated spices that some offer health benefits as well.
When it comes to spices in cooking his food, Chef Veeranan says there’s not much of a secret. “It’s in the use of spices, which sometimes may reach as high as 24 different kinds of spices in a single dish like in the biryani. That’s the secret,” the young-looking chef explains with a slight chuckle.
Prana brings life-giving force to the palate
THIS year, March 15, 2023 to be exact, was when Novotel Manila Araneta City opened the doors of Prana Indian Cuisine to Indian food-loving Pinoys. Prana, which means “breath” or “life force” in Sanskrit, is located in a medium-sized corner of the hotel that seeks to give every authentic Indian dish it offers a life-giving force to its guests’ palates.
Prana’s launching was nothing short of amazing, punctuated by a graceful inauguration and official ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by The Ambassador of India to the Philippines, His Excellency Shambhu Kumaran, who highlighted the strength of the partnership between India and the Philippines and how Prana can bridge both countries’ love for Indian food. The Indian envoy to the Philippines stood alongside Novotel Manila Araneta City General Manager Maria Manlulu-Garcia, the very first female GM for an Accor property in the country, and Araneta City, Inc. (ACI) Senior Consultant Rowell Recinto.
“It is targeted to those who keep coming back for Indian food and the hotel wishes to promote Indian cuisine not just to its guests and other diners but also for people to discover more of the flavors it can bring to the table as there is much more to Indian food than just the heat,” explains Erwin Doña III, Director of Marketing and Communication at Novotel Manila Araneta City.
“With Prana, it takes the palates on a flavorful journey to experience signature dishes full of strong flavors and mouthful bursts of spicy, sweet, smokey, and savory tastes,” adds Doña, who sat down with BusinessMirror together with Christiana June Mongaya, Novotel Manila Araneta City’s Marketing Communications Manager.
“It is with great honor to showcase the rich heritage of Indian cuisine here in the City of Firsts. Every mouthful of our Indian specialties brings awakening energy to your palate. I hope you enjoy this flavorful journey with us,“ Chef Veeranan shared.
Chef Veeranan pointed to some noteworthy dishes to try at Prana such as Pani Puri, Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken Masala), Hyderabadi Lamb Dum Biryani, and Lamb Seekh Kebab.
Prana Indian Cuisine has a la carte choices and a set menu with four-course or seven-course options. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday, lunch (11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and dinner (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.).