Indian Indulgences

Indian Indulgences

Featuring Meat Smith at Cocotte, Mr and Mrs Mohgan's Super Crispy Roti Prata, Haig Road Market & Food Centre, Samy's Curry Restaurant, THEVAR, CAFE O (Raffles Holland V), Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre, Sakunthala's Restaurant (Syed Alwi Road), Yantra, Mr Teh Tarik Eating House (Big Splash)
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

I had that sensation when I visited the shiny new Firangi Superstar.

(Media Tasting)
Positioned as “a foreigner’s exuberant, soulful and whimsical love letter to India”, @superfirangi is a passion project by the founders of The Dandy Collection - @rohitroopchand and Michael Goodman, who in some way or other, have a deep connection to the country.

Hold on to your jaw when you enter or risk losing it to the floor, for the flair-ful space, divided into four areas namely the Officer’s Club, Old Railway Room (it’s perfect for private gatherings), the Elephant Palace and the Jungle Lodge, is awe-inspiring. Designed with insanely close attention to detail, there are even personal touches incorporated (for eg. the Old Railway Room’s mural features the fort where Mr. Goodman got married at and a few relatives). When music is allowed, eclectic playlists, encompassing the psychedelic rock of The Beatles and Indian Classics sung by Nicki Wells, will add to the immersive experience. All the better to complement the food and drinks.

After General Manager Cal (@tankcal) finished our tour of the venue, he settled us into one of their two stunning alcove seats and served the drinks we’d picked: a gin-based “Great Western Railway” for @huatkaliao and a non-alcoholic Mango Lassi for me (loved its fruitiness).

Moments later, Head Chef Thiru (@thiru614), formerly of Spago Singapore, sent out a brilliant trio of “Coriander Mint Chutney”, “Roasted Pistachio Chutney” and “Jackfruit Cucumber Raita” (2 for $10 / 3 for $14) which we had fun mixing and matching with the fried-fresh-daily “Papads” in variants of cumin and black peppercorn, lentil and plain, as well as “Potato Crackers”.

I love anything corn so the “Bombay Elote” ($14) that landed next, disappeared in seconds. It’s Chef Thiru’s take on one of his favourite street food, and took the delightful form of smoky corn purée with corn salsa, baby corn dipped in more purée with a sprinkle of corn cracker crumbs, finger lime and coriander cress.

“Sothi Fresh”, a traditional Indian yellow coconut curry was a modern marvel. Not only was it chilled but the protein was a snapper ceviche cured in a Kokum dressing, and mixed with coconut flesh, coconut jelly and shallots. To enhance this chilled appetiser, finger lime, Boondi and Kashmiri chilli oil were added ($22).

The “Beirut Bhathura” ($12) was a refined rendition of the classic fried fermented dough “balloon”. Its moreish sidekick, a dip with an obvious Middle Eastern influence that brought Celeriac Hummus, Chickpea Masala and Pomegranate together.

Chef Thiru shared that the “This Is Not Aloo Gobi” ($16) was what got him the position at @superfirangi. It’s apparent why. A deconstruct of the classic, it had cauliflower couscous, roasted cauliflower florets, cauliflower coriander purée, crispy cubes of layered potato, cashews, raisins, mint leaves and a masala compote partying like no tomorrow.

I did not see it coming but the “Prata Waffle” blew my mind. Think of it as an ingenious merger of western-style “Chicken & Waffles” with North Indian-style “Butter Chicken”. Flinging prata dough into a waffle-maker got it crispier and a little chewy. The Madras-style fried chicken was fantastically fragrant and crunchy, and had the right touch of sweetness from a drizzle of jaggery syrup. It was smart to serve the butter chicken gravy in a bowl so nothing on the plate got soggy ($24).

Another standout from the meal was the “North X Northwest”, a spicy lobster dish inspired by Chef Thiru’s wife’s crab masala. Because the deshelled chunks of Atlantic lobster meat were pan-fried in a Tawa till half-cooked, then finished in a rich, thick lobster-masala sauce and sprinkled in Kashmiri chilli powder, it smelled like a million bucks and tasted incredible. Pieces of bottle gourd and garnish of fresh scallions and coriander brought a welcome lift of freshness. I doubt there’s anything better to match the flavourful bouncy succulence of the lobster meat than the Anise-Ghee Rice ($6) - its buttery loveliness harmonised so soul-stirringly with the masala sauce that I suggest not skipping this combo even if you are avoiding carbs.

Between the two desserts of Coconut Podi Idli ($12) and the Chocolate Jamun ($15), I preferred the latter. It so happens to be a homage to the favourite Indian sweet of @rohitroopchand’s (he’s the CEO of The Dandy Collection). I was glad that the chocolate mousse with Gulab Jamun crumble, chocolate crunch, rose-scented cream, pistachios, rose petals and cardamon vanilla ice-cream was well balanced and not too sweet. It was very pleasant washed down with a steaming hot Chai Tea.

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The last visit I paid @karusindianbananaleaf was back when they were at Sime Darby Centre. Since then, they have returned to their original location. Took my parents there for lunch a week ago and we basically rolled out of there after. Yup, over-indulged as per the usual 😆
Their signature Curry Fish Head (small: $23) wasn’t as spicy as I recall it to be previously but the gravy was aromatic, full of body and appetising. There was also a decent amount of brinjal and okra. Besides that signature, I picked a few other dishes for us to share. While the Fried Fish Roe was alright but not something I’d reorder, the Mutton Mysore was very tasty albeit on the slightly chewy side. The surprise hit was the flavourful Fish Cutlet which had more fish in it than expected. Besides that, we agreed the other standout from lunch was the Curry Pumpkin. All of us loved it at first bite.

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I could very well be the last person in Singapore to try “Mr & Mrs Mohgan’s famous crispy prata 😂 And my first visit wasn’t even planned. It was a spontaneous decision after I found my favourite “Joo Chiat Ah Huat Wanton Noodles” in the basement of Dunman Food Centre closed.
One of the items I ordered was the Coin Prata (an order has six pieces) and it was outrageously crispy. Each small swirl of slightly flattened dough was fried to a gorgeous golden-brown, and when I pressed down on it with my cutlery, it broke into thick, flaky chunks that were crunchy yet still slightly chewy in the middle of the folds. Amazing. Considering I tend to gravitate towards the cushiony style of Prata (which is why my default is an Egg Prata with Green Chillies), I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Will definitely return soon for more.

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(Hosted) Head @Chef.pinaki had joined @yantrasg just before Covid hit, so timing wasn’t great but based on our recent dinner at the surprisingly spacious and elegant restaurant, I think he has used the unexpected gift of time to great advantage - by creating new dishes and tweaking the flavours of existing ones to improve them. My family and I felt the Tasting Menu he served us, was most delicious.
Inspired by tradition as well as modern influences, the cuisine at #YantraSg is a fine balance of classic and contemporary. There is an a la carte menu of course but Chef Pinaki’s Tasting Menu allowed us to try a wide variety which is what I prefer when visiting a dining establishment for the first time. We did however, also enjoy a couple of other items outside of it, such as the Rajasthani Mirchi Yade, a traditional stuffed and batter-fried green chilli that was irresistible with its filling of spiced potatoes, and a fabulous Chicken Biryani that smelled and tasted as appetising as my video suggests.
Arriving first though were the amuse bouche of Papdi Chaat and Dahi Puri - a pair of exciting bites of contrasting flavours and textures. I was especially infatuated with the latter, a delicately crunchy ball filled with cool yogurt.
Head @chefpinaki then presented a starter featuring the meat of a young goat from Australia done in two ways (unlike most places, the mutton used at Yantra does not come from sheep). I found both preparation methods to result in deeply aromatic tenderness, with nary a trace of gaminess. But if you aren’t into mutton, fret not because you can opt for the alternative starter - a duo of Chicken Tikka and Chutneywale Fish Tikka (it features local seabass marinated in coriander, mint marinade). My mum who had this, liked it a lot and successfully pried the recipe from Chef 😆.
Next came the Macher Paturi, a speciality of Bengal which is where Chef Pinaki hails from. It showcased fresh local seabass marinated in mustard and coconut and cooked in banana leaves. I was reminded of Otah while tucking into this delectableness but the spice profile was completely different.
An intermezzo of Milagu Rasam followed. I loved the steaming hot, sour and peppery broth so much, I had to have two cups.
The main course comprised of two dishes to be savoured with saffron rice. One was the signature Chicken Tikka Makhani which had very tender boneless pieces of chicken in rich, thick and mildly spicy tomato-fenugreek gravy. The other, which had me scraping the bowl clean, was the humble looking but too-yummy-for-words Dal Makhani. After simmering for more than 24 hours on the tandoor, the black urad (lentils) were unbelievably soft and creamy.
We were also served a big plate of spinach to share. Cooked till mushy, the iron-rich vegetable was abundantly fragrant and flavoursome due to the large amount of peppers, spices and garlic used.
None of us could stop munching on the freshly-made garlic naan either, as it boasted a crisp bite rather than being limp and doughy.
Dessert was wonderful as we got a mix of Indian specialties. Served warm were the classic Gulab Jamun and the Gajar ka Halwa, a carrot compote (I really liked this), and in-between them sat a scoop of housemade “cream of milk” ice-cream which turned out to be a good complement.

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When a business owner has a clear vision of his or her brand, and how to bring every aspect of it to life, that’s bold and refreshing.
I got a taste, quite literally, of that when Yugi (@cocktailmahout) got in touch with me and sent over cocktails and light bites from the @elephantroomsg, a culture-forward new spot inspired by Singapore’s Little India.
Typical of me, I got more caught up with the food which was audaciously delicious from the liberal use of Indian spices. With such intoxicating aromas on the palate, I found myself enjoying the Lamb Tacos ($18) even though I tend to avoid this meat as I find it too gamey. The finely-shredded lamb shoulder which came in a Puri taco, was fall-apart tender, juicy and extremely tasty from having been marinated in “sup kambing” spices for 12 hours. It came with a sauce that elevated tastiness further with its different dimension.
To my surprise, the Grilled Tiger Prawns Glazed in a Tamarind Curry ($24) were even better. It had me sucking on the shells to get at every bit of that incredible curry. The accompanying flatbread was wonderful as well - soft, chewy and ever so slightly sweet.
As for the cocktails, each had a fascinating backstory and were unique. While “Sippin’87” was a sweetish, coffee-forward little number (the team’s take on the Espresso Martini with savoury notes from caramelised onions and zest from kombucha), the “Tekka” cocktail paid tribute to the iconic Tekka Market in Little India by swirling together Old Monk Rum, fermented banana, Spiced Palm Jaggery and a hint of turmeric.

If you want to explore the flavours of this Little India-inspired joint, please tap on the link in the @elephantroomsg’s bio on Instagram for details.

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T R E A T
“Grab & Go” is the new catchphrase at the @raffleshotelsingapore. And I did exactly that yesterday, vrooming up Seah Street to the entrance closest to the Raffles Hotel Boutique, to whisk my bags of food away. Yup, that venue is now the centralised collection point for food pick-ups ordered from the @tiffinroomsg @yirestaurant by @jeremeleung, @butchersblocksg and The Grand Lobby.
The meal for 4 pax I got from the Tiffin Room was an eye-opener as more than a decade had passed since I last dined there. Vague memories did surface when flavours of this new takeaway meal hit my tastebuds but there’s nothing like being 100% in the present. Especially since it showcases North Indian cuisine by award-winning Chef Kuldeep Negi that is a beautiful assault on the senses. Inspired by the bygone era of the Maharajas, takeaway receptacles notwithstanding, every dish felt like it had been prepared with royalty in mind. For eg. the Raita that accompanied the Biryani was even foamed.
Below are what we inhaled:

1. TULSI PANEER KEBAB - Indian cottage cheese, basil paste and tandoori pineapple salad ($15+) - Firm and chewy, the cheese paired nicely with perky spiced fruit.

2. TIFFIN DAL MAKHANI - Black lentils curry with tomato puree, ghee and spices ($14+) - I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed this buttery-creamy dish. It’s ridiculously tasty in a way that is quite new to me.

3. MACHER JHOL - Barramundi with ginger, onions and Indian spices ($40+) - Bright and complex, I would order this again in a heartbeat.

4. LUCKNOWI MURGH BIRYANI - Richly flavoured Indian basmati rice with whole spices, chicken, Salan gravy and raita ($28+) - There was a good number of chicken pieces buried in the intensely aromatic long-grained rice. Portion is large and can be shared amongst 3 to 4 pax.

5. ASSORTED NAAN - Plain, Butter & Garlic - These were substantial, pleasantly chewy and enjoyable on their own.

6. KESAR RASMALAI - Poached cottage cheese dumplings perfumed with rose water and saffron ($14) - Unlike some heavier ones I’ve had, the dessert was light and not-too-sweet.

The bottle of wine I received to pair with the meal was selected by the Raffles Sommeliers. I must confess though, I have yet to open it as I didn’t want to have alcohol yesterday.

Ordering is easy. 45mins prior to your preferred collection time (daily from 12.00pm to 2.00pm, and from 6.30pm to 9.30pm), just go to:

www.rafflesgrabandgo.com

If your bill hits $200 and above, delivery service is free. A rate of S$25 per location is charged if you spend less than that.
From now till end of this month, you get a $10 discount with a minimum spend of $40 as well. Furthermore, a $50 voucher is also presented with every order (do check the T&Cs for its usage).

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After all these years, the banana leaf curry rice experience at this institution can still satisfy me like nobody’s business.
For my solo lunch, I had ordered the popular Masala Chicken ($5.90) and Black Squid (small: $9). Their respective spice paste and sauce were astonishingly good. For the former, I was served a huge piece of chicken breast with wing and drumlet still attached, so let’s be frank, the meat was bound to be a tad dry at its thickest point. To fix that, I shredded it up and mixed in a generous amount of the paste-rich, spicy gravy. Instantly, it became more shiok! I also liked that the squid was cooked just right - slightly chewy but not rubbery. The young gentleman at the payment counter told me that this dish, which features a savoury sauce studded with soft pieces of garlic, is what the staff recommends to customers who can’t handle spicy food. I think you ought to order it anyway because it is very appetising.
Eating off a large piece of banana leaf never fails to add to the pleasure of dining at Samy’s Curry. The two complimentary vegetables of dryish potato and a wet-style cabbage I got yesterday, were really aromatic and delicious too. On top of that, they are generous with their papadum.
In case you are wondering, my bill, inclusive of a fresh coconut, came to about $16.30. But my level of satisfaction was off-the-charts 😄

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I got to know about this Indian eatery through Executive Chef Greg Bess of Spago and CUT at MBS. He had been taken here by one of the long-time chefs on his team - Chef Yash who’s originally from Mumbai.
Situated right smack in Singapore’s Little India, “Handi” looks rather nondescript but the one thing I noticed right away was that ALL of their customers were Indians. I couldn’t tell for sure if they were foreigners or locals but there was not a single tourist in sight - and to me, that’s a good thing. The feeling I got was that this was a place for “everyday food” so there wasn’t anything fancy or jazzed up to attract the tourist dollar. Heck, from the menu to the walls, not one photo of what they serve exists. I guess they cater to people who already know what their food is about. But that is not to say we weren’t made to feel welcome in any way. In fact, the tall gentleman manning the counter where the dishes were on display, was very nice and patient with us. He answered my many questions before suggesting we get the Set Meal.
Priced at $15 each, they were huge as you can tell from the above image. Each set came with a choice of meat and a vegetable. Since variety was what we were after, I picked the Curry Fish for myself and Butter Chicken for T.H., and the Dhal (which is the default) and the Sambar. These were ladled onto trays which were then loaded with basmati rice, roti, chutney, fresh tomatoes and cucumber, as well as a sweet ending of Gulab Jamun.
The food was very good. For me, it was apparent with my first slurp of the Sambar which was thick, fragrant and complex in flavour. The Butter Chicken, a dish that has easily fallen into blandness and/or overt creaminess in my experience, was spot on. But it was the Curry Fish that truly wow-ed us. It‘s unlike any fish curry I’ve had, and despite my probing questions, I couldn’t get more information about it. One thing’s for sure, it’s the biggest reason we would revisit Handi. That, and to try the other items on their text-only menu.

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Springleaf Prata Place is in my opinion, on another level with their food. Take their Chicken Murtabak for example. Aesthetically a design lover’s dream, it fits perfectly on the silver tray it is served on. Such precision creates a modern graphic look which is an interesting contrast to a very traditional dish.
In terms of taste, I think the Murtabak is good as the dough itself is very thin and fried to a glorious golden-brown crisp. The minced chicken filling though can be a tad dry but once curry is splashed on, it is no longer an issue. Especially since Springleaf Prata Place does a most excellent fish curry that’s aromatic and thick. Another plus point? It is free-flow.
I have long loved fresh green chilli in my Prata and Murtabak, so I pay extra for some to be thrown in. If you are keen to have a fruity brightness and heat cutting through, I recommend giving it a go.

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The prices here are a bit higher than most similar type of eateries but it is spacious, bright and perhaps because it is relatively new, looks quite clean.
Besides an egg prata with sliced green chilli, I decided to order a plate of fried beehoon to share. Because I had requested for tomato ketchup to be left out, the beehoon came out white and tasted quite peppery. Which I didn’t mind as it was quite tasty and worked with the fluffily fried noodles. But for $5, there was really not much ingredients. Not counting the fried egg on top, I only found canned peas, small pieces of potato, a bit of egg, cabbage and white onions.

It is clear that the egg pratas are made with attention. I like that compared to the average one out there, they are slightly bigger in size and not oily. I like to order mine with sliced green chilli as I feel its fresh, almost-fruity spiciness is a nice addition to the fried dough.

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Sitting quietly at the corner of Joo Chiat Road and Duku Road is an unassuming coffeeshop devoted to South Indian fare such as prata and nasi biryani. I tried the latter today and found it to be quite a lot better than most. The rice was light and very aromatic (it had plenty of fried shallots) while the chicken masala I chose tasted superb. My pick of the thigh meat portion was practically fall-off-the-bones tender and it had the spices deeply infused into it. I enjoyed the masala gravy for its thickness, fragrance and well-seasoned flavour.

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