Just on the edge of Covent Garden is the first yoghurt bar to arrive in London. Mandira has just celebrated its one year birthday so myself and Eni took a visit to the yoghurt bar to see what it was all about.
When you think of breakfasts, brunches and lunches in London, yoghurt isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s for desserts, right? Inspired by the Turkish way of life, Mandira seeks to change our view on fresh yoghurt; how and when we eat it.
Mandira’s cafe-style menu will introduce you to yoghurt with its array of savoury and sweet bowls. Whatever you are craving, Mandira will sort you out. The founders of Mandira came up with the concept of a yoghurt bar after seeing how popular eating savoury and sweet bowls of it is in both Turkey and the Middle East. It is a unique concept for sure – when we think of Turkish foods, more often than not, it’s the kebabs that spring to most people’s minds, and so they are introducing another side of Turkish cuisine to the London food scene.
‘Mandira’ comes from the Turkish language and means dairy farm – the yoghurt used in the cafe is locally-sourced from farms just outside of London, giving it a nice touch of merging British and Turkish cultures together. The yoghurt used is strained yoghurt, which is ultimately the same as Greek yoghurt, but without the branding.
This British touch can also be seen on the menu: if you aren’t quite ready to try the savoury bowls, the sweet menu includes a yoghurt bowl topped with the ever-so familiar combination of granola, slices of fresh, juicy strawberries, drizzled with honey and chia seeds sprinkled all over. The more adventurous person may want to try the Mango & Pineapple bowl, which includes a tropical mixture of mango, pineapple, basil, star anise and honey. These bowls can be eaten at any time of the day.
Whilst the sweet menu admittedly doesn’t feel very Turkish, the savoury menu certainly does bring in the Middle Eastern and Turkish tastes; bowls include Houmous + Za’atar and Roasted Aubergine & Tomato. These bowls are full of flavour (if you like garlic, you will love some of the bowls on the savoury menu). With the bowls, you are invited to have toasted slices of simit (a popular bread in Turkey). Dunking the simit into the yoghurt bowls and biting into them just adds to the flavours – especially the crunch of the toasted simit.
The beauty of these sweet and savoury bowls is that you can eat them at any time of the day and despite looking quite small, they are very light and filling. For vegans, Mandira has also started to introduce a vegan version, using coconut yoghurt. As well as the vast array of sweet and savoury yoghurt bowls, Mandira also has Turkish eggs available and Turkish coffee. The bar has collaborated with Another Space in Covent Garden and will be doing another collaboration with Another Space’s Bank location in the future.
Mandira has become one of my favourite breakfast and lunch spots at work, but it was Eni’s first time at Mandira. So, Eni over to you. What did you think of London’s first yoghurt bar?:
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I tried Mandira’s Turkish eggs. Being someone that is very picky with food, particularly dairy, so I was intrigued to find out more! I was first introduced to the Turkish egg dish, made from two poached eggs topped with freshly served and locally sourced yogurt. The Turkish eggs were accompanied by simits (dippers), to help you dig in! The flavour was surprisingly good and I liked it! I couldn’t get enough of the simit dippers lol! Although it is typically a breakfast dish, it can be had all day long. It was especially great for me as I had them post workout!
We then had the opportunity to try the small bowls; both savoury and sweet. My favourite of the savoury was the Hummus + Za’atar bowl. It was flavoursome, typically what you would expect from a well made hummus (garlicky and extra virgin olive oil). The bowl is assembled with bio-live yogurt, topped with the hummus, chickpeas, garlic and parsley. (Mara loved this bowl).
My personal favourites, due to my serial sweet tooth are the sweet bowls! There were so many flavours to choose from and I usually am so indecisive when it comes to this; but I tried them all! On the menu, you have options that are considered typically for breakfast; like the granola and strawberry pot, to bowls like the Quince Compote + Granola pot. My favourite of them all was the Quince Compote, as it was an original taste I had not had before; quince and orange topped with pomegranate seeds.
In addition to this, Mandira offers some amazing smoothies, juices and desserts. Whether it is a detox you are after something a bit more cheeky, Mandira has it all. The Raw Chocolate and Ricotta Mouse was like having a chocolate mousse! It was rich in flavour and definitely a treat after a workout or for a cheat day.
All in all, I would recommend Mandira for those that love to travel with their food, a taste of Turkey in London. Although, you don’t usually think to have yoghurt away from breakfast or snack time, Mandira has made yoghurt all day cool!
If you do want to experience another side to Turkish cuisine this summer, then here’s the lowdown on where to find Mandira:
Where: Covent Garden
Nearest tube station: Covent Garden (5 minutes walk) or Holborn (10 minutes walk)
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8am-7pm and Saturday-Sunday 11am-6pm