A MAD DINNER by Simran Sivlani is the best vegetarian tasting menu we ever had in Manila. The flavors are bold and unapologetic, showcasing the diverse food cultures in Asia. The vegetarian dishes are curated from each of the 7 sections of A Spark of Madness, an Asian Vegetarian Cookbook by Simran.
Sharing with you our memorable vegetarian tasting menu experience together with the recipes.
About A Spark of Madness
Unconventional cookbook author and Le Cordon Bleu Paris alum Simran Savlani took over the kitchen of The Farm at San Benito’s newest restaurant, PRANA, for a special two-night-only seven-course dinner last September 1-2, 2022.
Notorious for not following recipes while melding a wealth of cuisines, flavors, and ingredients,
Savlani is known as an artist of sorts, with her recipes as her canvas. Savlani has launched a
series of restaurants across Asia and Africa, using her philosophy of making dishes three-
dimensional, bringing together elements of sugar, spice, and salt to create memorable culinary
Savlani is also known for having authored “A Spark of Madness,” an Asian-Vegetarian cookbook
with 116 recipes covering regions in Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Seoul, Singapore, and beyond.
7-Course Vegetarian Dinner
The meal started with these flaky pinwheels with scallions spiked with chili oil. In fact, we ordered a second serving of this to satisfy our craving.
Fat soba noodles, made from 100% buckwheat, with tasty Brussel sprouts. This has a meaty texture and a mad combination of roasted peaches. But it works—the fruity notes and herbs with a garlicky finish refresh the palate.
My favorite. The long cut of corn resembles a rib where you bite the corn kernels off. The corn is steamed then deep-fried and served with Korean Gochugaru chili spice.
What made this special was one of the best chimichurris we ever tasted! We asked for a tub of chimichurri, which is perfect with meats, to take out. Will try to recreate this at home.
I loved the thick peanut Spark Crack Sauce with diced tofu and red & yellow pepper petals. You have to add the zest of the lime to open up the flavors. Reminiscent of vegetarian kare kare.
I loved this South Indian inspired dish! This is a like a savory Norwegian rice porridge that makes use of a creamy yogurt sauce, dijon mustard and lots of Spark Crispy Chili instead.
A bit heavy but does not make you feel bloated.
This curry is made with beans, coconut milk, tamarind paste, and chunks of carrots served with hot garlic bread on the side. It was okay but we were a bit full already at this point.
The dessert, with berries and spiked with Cointreau, was a bit sweet. This was lost in translation.
Overall, I still can’t believe that vegetarian food can taste this good, especially when you use a lot of bold flavors, different sauces, and farm-sourced vegetables and herbs which made a lot of difference to the quality taste of the dishes.
I loved the Spark Chili Sauce, the Spark Crack Sauce (peanut), and the Chimichurri. The Scallion Pin Wheel, Corn Ribs and Curd Rice were the best, and I can’t wait to check out the other vegetarian dishes in the cook book.
Congrats Simran on your innovative mad cook book on Asian Vegetarian cuisine!
PRANA @ THE FARM AT SAN BENITO
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Disclosure: Thank you to our friends from The Farm at San Benito for the MAD Dinner experience! I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.
P.S. Hopefully, The Farm can collaborate with Simran Savlani to do A Mad Dinner inspired by Filipino cuisine that will also feature the other dishes in the cook book.