Ever tried eating yoghurt for lunch before? The Wordrobe’s Sophie Ritchie makes a pitstop at Mandira for a dairy-dense feast
When I first think of yoghurt, the image of berry-topped breakfast bowls and afternoon snack pots come to mind. The young founders of Mandira, Georg Keller and Deyvi Sidi-Sarfati however, saw yoghurt and envisioned far more than just strawberries and granola.
Opened in 2017, Mandira is the UK’s very first fresh yoghurt bar, specialising in sweet and savoury ‘pots of goodness’ inspired by Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. The only one of its kind, this Covent Garden hotspot offers a mix of interesting combinations and intriguing extras with its rich strained yoghurt.
I make my way through the dawdling crowds of Covent Garden tourists to try it for a midweek lunch, looking for something a little more unusual than my typical al desko salad.
The bright and clean space is filling up fast, full of folk either peering at the board or waiting patiently for their choices. There’s a lot more on offer than I expected. Inspired by flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean, the wide menu displays a host of prettily presented sweet or savoury pots – with everything from smoked salmon with dill to avocado and beetroot.
I opt for a range (in mini size) to get a full tastebud experience. The Cauliflower and Green Tahini is an immediate win – especially the pale green tahini sauce. It’s worth noting that you’ll have to dig your spoon in to the bottom to scoop up the barley rusks, which add the perfect crunchy texture hit.
The Roasted Aubergine and Tomato is also good – and tastes fresh and light, with a chilli powder kick adding to the thick yoghurt’s creaminess. If you’re a well known humous hoover, don’t miss out on the Hummus and Za’atar.
Made with chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, a pinch of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, it’s great for an authentic taste. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve tried since a trip to Lebanon last year.
My favourite of the quartet however, is easily the Freekeh and Red Lentil. This is a lunch game changer – and I immediately love the contrasting textures of the freekeh wheat and red lentil. ‘Tasting’ the pot soon turns into my spoon makes a repeat visit again (and again… and then again).
As well as the main yoghurts, those with a savoury tooth can try a range of other treats. These include a simit bagel, one of Turkey’s most popular street foods, plus potato-filled latkes, fresh salads and homemade soups.
Visiting a yoghurt bar and not trying something sweet would be sinful in itself, so I finish my lunchtime feast with an ultra-creamy Dark Chocolate and Orange pot, as well as a Mango and Pineapple.
Good news for vegans – Mandira also offer coconut yoghurt, so I try that with the latter. Both are good, especially the dark chocolate with its chunks of 70% goodness and juicy orange segments.
Simple and speedy – despite devouring half the menu, I leave feeling fresh rather than overly full. If you’re looking to spice up your lunch life, it’s time to pay a visit to Mandira.
Make it happen
Where: 78B Long Acre St. Covent Garden WC2E 9NG, London
Cost: Pots start from £3.95
Words by Sophie Ritchie