While in Davenport, Iowa earlier this week, we were able to visit Mantra Indian Cuisine & Spirits. I’d heard they have a lot of vegan options, and I’d been meaning to check them out for a while. Mantra is located in downtown Davenport, just a couple of blocks from the Mississippi River.
When we were handed the menu, I was happy to see lots of clearly listed vegan options, including several vegan appetizers. I have always loved the finger food fun aspect of appetizers, but so often at non-vegan restaurants, appetizers are slim pickings where vegans are concerned.
There was one starter in particular that drew our interest right away – Mirchi Pakoras. These pakoras are stuffed jalapeños that have been filled with samosa-style potatoes. They are then battered in what tastes like a chickpea flour coating and deep-fried. The fresh jalapeños still had some of their crunch and plenty of heat. As we ate, I watched little bubbles of sweat appear around David’s nose. Those babies were good and spicy! Luckily, the staff kept our water glasses filled.
I’d never seen anything like that on an Indian restaurant menu. They were like an Indian take on jalapeño poppers. It had me thinking about ways that I could recreate it at home.
They served the Mirchi Pakoras with a tray of house made chutneys – cilantro, tamarind, and onion. All of the chutneys tasted vibrant, crisp, and freshly made.
For our entrees, we ordered aloo gobhi made with cauliflower and potatoes and chana masala made with chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes in a Punjabi sauce. They both had bold flavors that were denser and richer than I typically experience in those dishes.
The tandoori roti (whole wheat flatbread baked in the tandoor oven) is not listed on the menu as being vegan. However, when requested without ghee (clarified butter), it is vegan.Davenport continues to surprise with its high quality of vegan options. I look forward to going back and exploring more of the menu on a future visit and having another round of those spicy Mirchi Pakoras.