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Indian Indulgences

Indian Indulgences

Featuring Springleaf Prata Place (Jalan Tua Kong), Sin Ming Roti Prata (Faisal & Aziz Curry Muslim Food), New Mahamoodiya Restaurant, Meat Smith at Cocotte, Khansama Tandoori Restaurant (Little India), Haig Road Market & Food Centre, Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre, Sakunthala's Restaurant (Syed Alwi Road), CAFE O (Raffles Holland V), Ananda Bhavan (Syed Alwi Road)
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua
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Hands up those of you who must order “Butter Chicken” whenever you are at an Indian restaurant. Well, I’d like you to meet the “Butter Mushrooms” at Thevar. It’s a mixed mound of meaty fungi that’s been sautéed then served on an insanely aromatic, rich curry paste. The finishing touch is a snowfall of finely grated paneer cheese. Freshly made, hot and flimsy naan bread follows on a separate plate. To eat, you can tear it and use the pieces to scoop/swipe up the mushrooms. Alternatively, fold the whole naan in half to hold the filling so you end up with a “Butter Mushroom taco”. It doesn’t matter really because what you want is to get that deliciousness as quickly as possible in your mouth.

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Putu Mayam was a childhood favourite breakfast item of mine. I think it‘s how it is eaten—tearing up a bite-size piece of the stringy rice flour pancake at a time, dabbing it in the neon bright orange sugar and sprinkling on the freshly grated coconut—that had me so enthusiastic. The simplicity of its taste was also a draw.
Nowadays, when I get a craving, I visit “G.S. Oli Thosei and Food Stall“ at Geylang Serai Market for my fix. Besides their ultra-fine-strand Putu Mayam, they also do a very good Appam, as well as Thosai (the made-to-order cheese and egg one that Burppler Jayne Tan ordered was fabulous). Early risers can also try the stall’s Roti Jala. I have not yet had it myself because unfortunately, it’s always sold out by the time I’m there.

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In three months since its opening, Thevar has become the sparkling gem I knew it was destined to be.
This modern Indian grill restaurant was running at full capacity last night, and from my counter seat overlooking the kitchen area, I could see chef-owner Mano Thevar and his team deep in their zone, firing up dishes non-stop.
Much to my delight, the menu has been expanded a little and one of the new items is the “Crispy Pork with Sambal Aioli” ($14++). Prettily wrapped in a fresh Betel Leaf, the big cut of pork has a dry and insanely crunchy curried coating. Once your teeth cracks that surface, it’s met with pure unctuousness. Think of the meat as having undergone a procedure and now goes around saying ”You can call me Butter”.
What’s great is it’s not only the new items that are gorgeous.
I discovered the immensely tasty small bites I‘d enjoyed on my first visit have also caught up in the presentation department. They are seriously slick these days, striking strong poses on the plate with their graphic shapes. Taste-wise, all of them deliver the same robust complexity of Indian spices that I adore.
If you are partial to Indian cuisine but haven’t tried Thevar, I suggest you make a reservation ASAP.

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Just like the transformation of the Mackerel Bun into the Mackerel Dosai, the Chettinad Chicken Roti has evolved since my last visit, albeit nowhere near as dramatically.
In modern beauty speak, I’d say it’s the equivalent of the Chicken Roti having undergone a “non-invasive procedure” for a facelift rather than the the-whole-nine-under-G.A.-yards surgical sort. Everything about it looks taut and plumped up, and I am very pleased to add the filler is none other than the same fiery South Indian style of thick chicken curry that Chef Mano Thevar had been serving before. Creamed up with a dollop of garlic aioli and tightened with a burst of acidity via the housemade pickle, it is wonderfully vibrant in flavour.
Honestly, if not for my desire to try new items on Thevar’s menu, I’d have scoffed at least four of these.

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The “Mackerel Buns” I fell in love with on my first ever visit to @thevar.sg, which took place about three months ago, is all grown up. In a way that makes its original, as astoundingly delicious as it was, seem like a duckling to the swan it is today.
No longer is the fish flaked into bits and sealed into thin-walled bread but cut into a slab and grilled (I think in the tandoor oven because it remains moist) then placed on a freshly made dosai and smothered with a thick and very aromatic spicy curry paste. A piquant finely-chopped tomato chutney lights things up as brightly as my eyes did when I bit into what is re-christened the “Mackerel Dosai”.

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Isn’t it so cool that many versions of “Rojak” exist? And they differ hugely too. Due to the influence of my late maternal grandmother who enjoyed it a lot, I have a soft spot for Indian Rojak especially. It’s one of the few hawker dishes she always requested me to takeaway for her on a regular basis. In those days, I would buy it from a stall at Bedok Bus Interchange food centre as it was a convenient stop on my way back from school, and we would eat it together the moment I got home. Time has smudged out the name of the stall from my memory but I can still remember theirs was very tasty.

The one shown above was bought by my parents from Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre, and it’s good too. I like that every item tastes freshly prepared and the sweetish dipping sauce has enough spiciness to keep me happy. They do their fritters crunchy and pack a decent amount of small prawns within. Furthermore, they don’t stinge on the complimentary lettuce, cucumber and purple onions.

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My idea of a perfect prata is one that contains egg and sliced fresh green chilies. It has to be made only when I order and served piping hot. The prata should not be hard, but fluffy and light with the folded layers of dough separated, not clumped together. There are many people who favour the very crispy style but that’s not something that suits me. I much prefer crispness to be limited to a few microns in thickness. Basically to simply seal the air trapped within.

Fish curry, a thick and aromatic one, is what I like to have my prata with. It’s pretty much non-negotiable.

Thohirah Restaurant, a popular eatery housed in the last two shophouse units at one end of Jalan Kayu, has not disappointed in the time I have been coming here in the last few years.

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Recently, I seem to be encountering some exceptional interpretations of the humble nasi biryani. Just prior to digging into the sensational one at Fat Fuku’s peranakan private dining last Tuesday, I had actually feasted on another delicious creation the Friday before. This was here at “Thevar” and that’s what’s pictured above.
The “Berry Pulao” by Head Chef and Co-owner Mano Thevar was sheer pleasure to eat as the grains were cooked light and loose, yet infused with an inordinate amount of fragrance and flavour from Indian spices. They were also infiltrated bountifully by cheerily sweet cranberries, softly-crunchy pistachios, chopped chives and wispy fried onions. A little dish of cucumber onion raita stood by in case some cool yogurty goodness was needed. I must confess, I hardly touched it as the rice had my full attention.

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Tying with the Chettinad Chicken Roti for top-of-the-podium in my heart are these Mackerel Buns. In fact, shown here is our second order of them because we couldn’t leave Thevar without having these again.
They may look unassuming but my eyes lit up with one bite. Freshly baked upon order, the wall of bread is thin while the filling of finely shredded mackerel fish that’s been marinated in deeply aromatic curry spices, is more than ample.
Eating the buns is a struggle. Because they arrive piping hot so you need to go slow but at the same time, they smell so damn incredible, waiting is impossible.

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Ok, so not the most photogenic of dishes with the monochromatic colours but the “JK Special Mutton Briyani” was a tasty gem.
It’s cooked using Seeragha Sambha, a type of flavourful rice traditionally reserved for ceremonies like weddings and festivals in Southern India. But what I found particularly impressive was the fact that the many super tender chunks of lamb buried in the deeply fragrant-with-spices rice had none of the strong smell that I am usually sensitive to.
And although it’s presented in a way that makes the portion look small, two or three persons could easily share this. The accompaniments are little bowls of yogurt and curry as well as a hard-boiled egg in a chilli sambal (not shown in my photo as it had arrived slightly late).

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To me, kulcha which originates from Punjab, tastes very similar to naan as in they’re both unleavened bread. Unless you order the butter version, the standard one seems pretty healthy.
This carrot and fresh herbs filled kulcha I had at “Junior Kuppana” (opened 8 months ago in Singapore, they are a South Indian restaurant brand started by a couple in 1960 in Erode, Kongu Nadu) had a lovely subtle sweetness and an enjoyable chewy texture. Just like most Indian flatbreads, it can be eaten with curries but I liked it most with the fresh yogurt dip. TH found it just as good eaten by itself which’s how we ended up ordering two more to go because he wanted them as a snack for later.

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Q: What’s better than Masala Thosai?
A: Masala Thosai with Cheeeeeeeesssee!
Freshly made, the huge thosai is crispy on the outside and soft within as it is stuffed with hot, gooey melted cheese and soft, lumpy pieces of potatoes that’ve been cooked in spices. This appetising combo is a real belly-filler too. Totally worth the $4 for sure.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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