I’ve written time and again about the New Bombay Canteen and how consistently good its offerings have been over the years. However, I have never tried the set meals over at their Glorietta Food Choices stall.
Under ordinary circumstances, I only go there to grab a two-samosa snack and a strawberry lassi for the commute home. A few nights ago, the rain fell in sheets and there weren’t any Alabang / Muntinlupa-bound buses passing through the Ayala Ave. stop. This led to a decision to have dinner while I waited for the rain to stop and the buses to start coming in. Since I wasn’t in the mood for anything Oriental or anything off the grill, I opted to try the chicken-cheese kebab set.
Each of the meal sets comes with rice, a crisply-toasted pappadum, one’s curry of choice, a split kebab, tiny dishes of red tamarind and green coriander sambals, and a medium tumbler of iced tea. This particular set has the salty-savory chicken-and-cheese kebab: a rather savory meatball that’s rather dry, but is excellent when slathered with the coriander sambal.
Mild mutton curry
The counter staff will give you a choice of chicken or mutton curry or a vivid green palak paneer made with white cheese and pureed spinach. My choice was a mild-ish mutton curry that was, in itself, quite surprising.
One usually thinks of mutton as tough-textured and gamey. This particular mutton curry made me think that it was mislabeled: the meat was actually as soft, as tender as spring lamb! Plus, I believe the judicious addition of ginger and cinnamon – two of my favorite spices – toned down any potential gaminess and gave the dish a deliciously nutty, almost incense-like aroma.
I rounded out my meal with an additional order: gulab jamun (P 35.00 for two pieces). NBC’s gulab jamun is rather citrusy which leads me to suspect that either orange zest or orange-blossom water was used in the syrup as opposed to the traditional one made with rosewater. Nevertheless, this will remind people of really good custard cake or old-fashioned yema (the kind where custard balls are dipped in caramel – so much better and more luxurious than the kind available just about everywhere these days). It is the perfect foil to a spicy meal and is gorgeous for a cold and rainy night as it is deliciously warm and unctuous.
Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended in June 2016 These days, she works full time at Philippine Tatler as a features writer under the nom de guerre Marga Manlapig.
Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel. Follow her on Instagram at @midgekmanlapig.
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