I’m a foodie, but I’m a selective foodie.
Dining out usually means anything French, Italian or Japanese, with the occasional Chinese thrown in. Local ethnic food is considered “exotic” to me and it’s an area I rarely ventured into.
With my sad knowledge of Indian cuisine comparable to a three year old (who may even know more about prata than I do), I gave novelty points to Zaffron for being the first Indian restaurant I’ve been to!
Homemade lassi is a must at any Indian restaurant. Here, there are six flavours to choose from – plain ($4++), salted ($4.50++), sweet ($4.50++), my favourite classic mango ($5++), strawberry ($5++) and banana ($5++).
Any yogurt-loving person will love it!
For starters, the papadums ($4++) did a wonderful job at whetting our appetite for more. Crispy, cracker-like, and served either plain or with black pepper. The latter was fiery hot, shiok!
The papdi chaat ($6++) is a popular street food in North India and consists of homemade fried dough wafers, topped with sev (vermicelli-like crisps), sweet yogurt, mint and tamarind sauce. Interesting combination, with a lot of bold flavours all packed into a small package.
Officially my favourite at Zaffron!
Another light bite includes the sambar idli ($4.50++) which is a South Indian savoury cake made with lentils and rice, topped with a vegetable stew with spices such as tamarind, mustard seeds, dried red chillies and curry leaves.
This, I thought I’ll like from the description as I’m a fan of lentils. But the real thing was left almost untouched. The “cake” is like a plain chewy bun that’s rather bland, an unthinkable considering that Indian cuisine is notoriously full of spices and flavours.
Plain naan, garlic naan, butter naan, cheese naan, I’m sure you have heard of them before.
What about kashmiri naan ($6.50++)?
A refreshing change from the other common Indian breads, this is sweet naan mixed with raisins, dates, green apples etc. Made a la minute, it’s my second favourite after papdi chaat!
When there’s naan, there’s gotta be curries.
First, there’s khatti meethi gobi ($8.50++), a traditional dish of cauliflower cooked with garam masala, paprika and fenugreek leaves. I’m not sure how the chef did it, but there’s still a slight crunch to the cauliflower! I thought it’s going to be a soggy baby-food-ish kind of dish, ignorant me haha.
Then there’s the kadhai jhinga ($15++), a curry of fresh shrimps sautéed in an onion tomato masala and spiced with crushed cumin, coriander and chilli flakes. Eaten together with the sweet naan, you get a mix of sweet and heat in one bite.
If sweet naan don’t appeal to you in a savoury meal, how about paper dosai?
We ordered this cuz it looked good on our neighbour’s table, haha.
Look, it’s so thin! And so huge that it can easily feed a hungry foursome or more.
From the tandoor, there’s plenty to satisfy everyone. If you are not sure what to start with, get the Zaffron tandoori platter ($38++) with chicken, fish and mutton kebab. I had the non-meat version: vegetarian tandoori mixed grill ($30++) with a mixture of tandoori gobi (grilled cauliflower florets), paneer tikka (charred cottage cheese marinated in yogurt and carom seeds) and tandoori mushrooms (grilled button mushrooms stuffed with a blend of roasted vegetables).
Every item was a first for me so I really enjoyed the whole olfactory and gustatory experience!
Moong dal halwa ($9), a classic warm Indian dessert was recommended but none of us attempted another bite after the first. It’s lentils cooked with milk, sugar and butter into a paste, and obviously an acquired taste for us. While this was sorely neglected, we happily finished off the scoop of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream.
Points to Zaffron for proudly declaring that it uses B&J ice cream! Honesty is really the best policy.
My thanks to Shauna from Sixth Sense Consultancy for the kind invitation, and the service team at Zaffron for their kind hospitality!
135 East Coast Road