As its name suggests, Mandi Plov is a mandi restaurant with an Uzbek twist. How cool is that? Cooler still, it also serves biryani. Located at ground level of Building W09 in the Russia Cluster of International City, the interior of Mandi Plov includes a typical floor seating area in addition to its table/chair seating. It’s smaller than its signboard suggests but its entrance side glass wall lets in a lot of light giving it an airy ambience. Patterned stone wallpaper makes the place look…a little more modern than it actually is. There are TV’s on two of the three remaining walls which play Hindi movies, to which everyone in the restaurant is glued to – even the non-Indians. Interestingly, this is the first mandi restaurant I have been to which is not overbearingly Arabic – there is a much wider appeal to this place.
One of the chefs at Mandi Plov is Uzbek and boy-o-boy can he cook. We started our meal with piping hot bowls of soup, Pelmeni for me and Uzbek Shurpa for my companion. Pelmeni, as your Russian friends will tell you, are dumplings filled with meat, usually pork, or fish. Traditionally a dish native to the Urals, you can find these little meat parcels everywhere in Russia. Introduced to Ural cuisine by indigenous people of the region, it is suggested they started off as an adaptation of the Chinese wonton, brought into Siberia and the Urals by the Mongols. Historically, they were a way of keeping meat through the winter, as they could be prepared and then frozen in the snow and cold.
Shurpa (also spelled shourpa, shorwa, shorpo, сhorba, shorba, shorpa, shorpo, sorpa) is a rich and hearty meat and vegetable-based soup (usually made with Lamb) which is very much a meal on its own. Although it is indigenous to Uzbekistan it is now common throughout the region. Both soups were excellent, particularly the Pelmeni.
Our next order was for a portion of fried chuchvara, small dumplings of unleavened dough filled with meat, typical of Uzbek cuisine. Originally from Persia where they were known as Joshpara, these dumplings are now popular throughout Central Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines where they have become the famous Shishbarak. Mandi Plov’s chuchvara is served with thick, Greek-style yoghurt (sour cream would better) and is really good – worth a try.
We couldn’t leave without trying something from their mandi section. So, we tried a Chicken Madfoon. Portions are big, flavours are even bigger. I found the rice a little shorter and dumpier, suggesting a lower grade, but the taste was spot on. The chicken was spiced perfectly and fall off the bone tender. I am trying to reduce my triglycerides and cholesterol levels and am therefore off red meat for the time being, hence the chicken.
Biren is the super friendly, Nepalese new owner of Mandi Plov.
While we were there, he manned the till, took our orders and served us our meal. Young and full of energy, he is the life and soul of this surprisingly good little restaurant. I have been to many restaurants in International City. This is easily one of the best and well worth a visit.
Waste NOT. Want NOT.