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Madrid City in English
Monday 19th of November 2018
Jeff Wiseman 1302 4th of February 2013 by editor 4th of February 2013
Hindú heaven

Jeff Wiseman pays a visit to the Swagat Indian
restaurant in barrio Salamanca

Curiously, the first thing that draws a visitor’s attention to Madrid’s Swagat Indian restaurant is its shiny brass doors. They suggest a hidden elegance may await, and in fact the interior décor of Swagat certainly provides a visual treat. The restaurant is designed in two bright colours—a lower part in pink, and then at the back, at the top of a small stairway, an upper part in blue. One might imagine they conflict, but instead they complement each other well, and give the whole space a warm and lush atmosphere.
    We are greeted by the owner, Shibani Saigal, and on her recommendation, opt to try the menu degustación, which offers a wide selection of Indian, or more specifically Hindú, specialties over three courses. Three sauces—picante, mint and mango—accompany the starters, and the distinct flavour of each points towards the quality of what is to follow. The mint sauce has a notable, tangy flavour, and the picante manages to be stunningly hot yet equally agreeable.   
    The starters are crispy vegetable samosas, sizzling onion bhajis, portions of Malai tikka (pieces of chicken breast marinated in a creamy cheese sauce with almonds and cashews), and Chicken tikka (tandoori with ginger, lemon and yogurt). All four are deliciously succulent and fresh, and with the sauces plus a delicious semi-sweet peshwari naan (pistachio bread with mixed nuts and fruit), it’s hard to distinguish a favourite dish. My partner gets more than enthusiastic about the flavour of the Malai tikka, whilst I slowly enjoy the samosas and bhajis, as the quality of both is exceptional. Carved carrots and cucumber add to the presentation.
     From past experience it becomes very easy with Indian food for the stomach to fill up too soon, but at Swagat’s the portions are perfectly balanced, with enough to satisfy the palate but never too much so that any dish presents more of a challenge than a pleasure. The main courses, served in dishes placed above small table candles to maintain their temperature, are Murgh Makhani (butter chicken—pieces of chicken breast in a butter, tomato and cream sauce), Ghost Rogan Josh (pieces of lamb with onion, tomato and aromatic spices) and Swagat Malai Kofta (fresh cheeseballs, with a herb centre, served in a house sauce), together with basmati rice. We are also presented with a naan, light and thin, yet filled with a delicious melted cheese. Quality is maintained throughout, with the smooth and creamy butter chicken walking the line perfectly between looking almost too rich, but tasting wonderfully light. The cheeseballs, a house speciality, offer a melt-in-the-mouth experience, with pleasantly strong but never overwhelming flavour, whilst the lamb, my partner’s favourite, has its fine texture brought out by the sauce. The key here is that the sauces rightly never preside over the dish, but enhance its quality.
         Having enjoyed the balance of quality and quantity, enough appetite remains for the desserts to be an appreciated delight rather than squeezed in. There’s a boleta de leche frita (fried milk ball), helado de pistacio con sabor naranja (orange-flavoured pistachio ice cream) and cubes of mango ice cream too. The pistachio holds a firm, creamy texture, not too sweet, which ends the meal well. With white wine, Cobra Indian beer, and coffee, we leave, to face a cold Madrid day, feeling warm and satisfied.

Swagat Indian Restaurant, C/Núñez de Balboa, 29 (Metro: Velazquez/Goya). Tel: 91 577 95 66. Starters around €6, main courses €12-16. Lunchtime menu del día, €13; menu degustación, €30. Open daily, 1-4pm, 8-12pm. Take away service also available.

Further information & Map: Swagat Indian Restaurant

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