Indian cuisine under the mango tree
Anuradha Samarajiva checks out the latest addition to Colombo's restaurant scene
The Mango Tree's taupe coloured walls and stylised sign are prominently visible on Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 3 and it's already become a familiar name in the nightly "where do we go for dinner?" debate. But the restaurant has only been open since May 2004. So what's the secret behind its popularity?

The first guess is its North Indian recipes. Sukhvinder Singh, director of operations, describing the restaurant as "not typical Indian but more modern", makes it clear though that "of course, the recipes are secret". The modern touch is seen in the décor, done in cool black and grey with yellow walls, neon-coloured paintings, and bright cushions adding warmth.

The menu is classic Indian.There's a variety of dishes: salads, soups, kebabs, tandoori, seafood, Indian breads, all kinds of meat dishes, and says Mr. Singh, "a good range of vegetarian meals".

Popular dishes are the Kofta Shyam Savera, made of spinach and cottage cheese dumplings in gravy, and the Nawabi Gosht Biryani , a mutton dish. For the sweet tooth, there are drinks like rose-flavoured lassi and rich Gulab Jamun dumplings. Tribute is paid to the establishment's name with Aam Ras, a mango dessert.

The restaurant derives its name from the two mango trees growing outside the building and also according to Mr. Singh the fact that "Mango is the most popular fruit in both Sri Lanka and India". His partner, Viraj Panchal, the restaurant's chairman and managing director, had the initial idea for the restaurant. They both realized a simple truth: "Sri Lankans like Indian food". Mr. Singh explains, their goal is to "offer the personal touch to everyone and good food always".

The Mango Tree also has a bar and lounge. In the lounge, separated from the dining area one can relax and enjoy the shisha: tobacco in flavours like strawberry and apple. The bar's signature offering is a drink with rum, mango and coconut cream, naturally called "The Shade of the Mango Tree".

Asked if he expects to continue seeing an average of 100 diners a day, Mr. Singh replied with a smile, "I can only hope for the best".

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