Tasting India inside Manila : Ponggal
It's a sunday afternoon and I'm in the middle of nowhere as I count the buttons of a snug fabric but not skin tight red and blue chekered polo. The time is idle, nevertheless it's also a perfect timing to make the day less predictable. Everything is set and ready to go for somewhere else.
Sun is brightly shining around two o' clock with some raindrops showering from the sky. I didn't get the chance to count how many times this sweet phenomenon has taken the rain down to moisturize the humid air. The long road lined with old sasafras trees , the faded letters of delectable street signages and loud honking from rushing people driving their cars have fed my eyes a busy, yet a graceful and lovely afternoon.
After around 30 minutes of travel, it seems like forever before I noticed that the car has stopped already. We finally arrived at our destination. As I grab my legs to move out of the car, I easily recognized an attractive dining set-up covered by glass. The signage iluminates a lively color hanging around 12 foot above the floor.
We has arrived already at Ponggal Kitchen and Bar!
PONGGAL KITCHEN AND BAR
Pongal is a popular rice dish in Tamil Nadu. In Tamil the root "pongal" or in Telugu "pongu" means to " boil over" or "spill over". In Kannada it is called Huggi (ಹುಗ್ಗಿ).
Front photo of Ponggal
Lies within the busy street of Aurora Boulevard, not far from the famous market of Blumentritt, you can find an Indian restaurant that serves authentically handcrafted signature dishes both from the rich culture of India and Philippines.
The restaurant brews up primarily because of their passion to bring scrumptious taste of India served along with our very own Filipino goodness on plate. The place is owned by an Indian national who is happened to be married with Mrs. Violeta Aragon Raj. The restaurant, to say the least is comforting and extraordinary.
Flashing back few steps away from the door, I already assumed great dining place. The door is made up of clear glass with shinny brass covering its knob. Inside, lives a delightful mariage of modern designs and european classics that passionately sets the atmosphere with elegance and pride. There are stuffed bears sitting tremendously on some corners. You can even see changes on your skin tone once the rays from the illuminating bulbs is observed.
My friends have chosen to sit on the couch with wooden tables and chairs. Next to us stands around ten foot high is a lavish bricked wall showcasing elegance and sophistication. The ceiling hold series of opulent lightning giving a perfect ilumination to our table. From a distance, you can also find delectable colors of sunrise covering the other side of the wall.
If you will saunter the whole place you may notice familliar pictures printed on walls. There are iconic cartoons that became very popular during 90's. It brings a lot of memory as it seems like taking me back to an old wooden floor where I used to sit and spend good two hours facing our black and white television. The pictures are like time capsule helping me recall stories of my childhood.
An elegant atmosphere inside Ponggal
The Late Lunch
The arms of the clock is setting into right angle position already. I know very well that its pretty late to have our lunch but still we proceed.
For no more than five minutes of sitting, a crew approached us to serve the menu with steaming bowls of soup. The menu holds plethoras of option that will surely trigger your excitement.
The famous Pork Binagoongan
An indulgence from their smoothie
We tried some of the Fililpino dishes they serve. The sweet smell of spices tickles your nose as you wait the food to arrive. Finally around twenty minutes of waiting, whole Ponggal Chicken came. There is also karekare, a filipino dish with simmered oxtail paired with vegetables and peanut sauce.
Feeling hungry, I went straight for the chicken. It was so tender and tasty. Then I tried their Binagoongan, a filipino cuisine made of pork and eggplant cooked with shrimp paste. The flavors are like lip warriors setting new standards to our buds.
As being recommended, we tried one of their indian dish that composed of potato and peas lies perfectly on a brown, reddish sauce. The flavor is a bit sour, and the potato is well cooked. At first, I expect some spicy notes but I was wrong. The taste is a bit sweet and more on being approachable for some people with less tolerance for spicy food.
After some scrumtious bites, I decided to take a glass from a nice looking pitcher filled with cucumber lemonade. The taste is refreshing and satisfying. I really enjoyed every bites.
Recommendation : Ponggal Chicken and Kare kare.
Price : 3 out of 5. But very deserving.
HOW TO GET THERE
OPTION 1 COMMUTE :
- First you need to find your way going to Quiapo. From there, you can ride a jeep with signage going to "Blumentritt-Dimasalang". Ponggal is just around five-minute walking distance from the drop off point.
-From any point of Lrt line 1, you need to drop by Blumentritt station. From there you can choose either a 10-minute walk or a ride by a tricycle towards the destination.
GRAB / UBER / PRIVATE CAR
- To support a fast and hassle-free ride, using googlemap and waze is highly recommended especially if you are not familliar about the area.
Visiting Ponggal is a highly satisfying experience.
From the atmosphere, you get in love real quick.
All the ingredients are fresh and ethically sourced bringing smile as you savor every bites.
( Especially when spent with friends )
Spending quality time with friends is exhilerating as they become special ingredients completing the recipe of our life.
So when do you plan to visit?
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Thank you !