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Happy Chinese New Year, friends!! Hope everyone has already started tossing your way to good fortune!

Out of the four yusheng I’ve tried so far, my favourite is the Indian-style rendition from Punjab Grill! The novelty/exotic factor first hooked me, and then the myriad of flavours won me over. Traditional Chinese yusheng are sometimes too saccharine due to the generous dressings so this sweet-tangy-spicy-pungent yusheng is a refreshing change from the norm!

Chef Special Chaat Yusheng ($48++)
grilled salmon, candied beetroot, carrot, coriander mint yogurt, five spices, crushed cumin, potato chaat, chilli powder, roasted almond flakes

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Available till 22 February, Punjab Grill is introducing a special 5-course seafood menu ($85++) which offers an unconventional dining experience and a lot of food! We started with a chilli crab soup that divided us right away – bff said it was weird but I actually liked the piquant, tart yet slightly sweet tang. An acquired taste, I suppose.

Soup
chilli crab sorba served with cray fish dumpling

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The platter of four appetizers didn’t send us to conflicting camps though. We were suitably impressed by the prawn patty with masala onion (texture reminds me of fishcake), tender juicy salmon tikka (our unanimous favourite!), lightly battered soft shell crab, and a plump fresh scallop served whole in its shell. Refined Indian cuisine at its best!

Appetizers
pan seared jumbo prawn minced patty filled with masala onion and california raisin;
grainy mustard salmon tikka;
golden fried soft shell crab tossed with crispy coconut flakes;
pan grilled scottish scallops topped with kinnaur apple confit

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Main course was a cone of fluffy seafood pilaf topped with succulent coriander masala prawn and the all-time popular kaffir lime fish curry on the side. Both were excellent and I polished them easily. Wish that I had saved some tummy room for the warm garlic naan and lentil curry though!

Main Course
kaffir lime fish curry;
crushed coriander prawn masaledar served with trio bell pepper;
seafood pilaf;
dal punjab grill;
bread basket

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I was all stuffed but since desserts go to a separate stomach, I could not resist digging into the decadent dark chocolate fudge with an orange core. Perfect with the scoop of saffron pistachio ice cream! How about a mandarin chocolate lava cake next time, chef? *hint hint*

Symphony of Desserts
mandarin chocolate fudge, kesar pista kulfi

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My thanks to Erica, Manu and team for taking good care of us!

Punjab Grill By Jiggs Kalra
B1-01A, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
South Podium, 2 Bayfront Avenue
6688 7395

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Dinner at Tandoor last Friday was interesting, to say the least. The menu was not an ordinary one as Australia’s celebrity chef Tony Bilson has joined hands with Head Chef Vaibhav Suri to craft dishes fusing authentic Indian flavours with western influences such as sous vide cooking and usage of non-traditional ingredients. Think of it as a form of elevated contemporary Indian cuisine!

Tawa Scallops
indian spiced pan seared deep sea scallops with saffron and fennel sabayon

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Highlights for me are definitely the appetisers of red snapper carpaccio and pan seared scallops. The former was simply a sight for sore eyes – beautifully plated, vibrant colours, fresh light and tasty! The latter was quite surreal because it did not taste like scallop at all! So plump, soft and almost translucent, amazing.

Roomali Red Snapper Chaat
carpaccio of red snapper, shellfish and caviar with tangy chilli and lemon dressing

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One of the best aspects of dining at an Indian restaurant is knowing that vegetarians will never be forgotten by the chefs (because I’m half a vegetarian haha)! Instead of snapper, the chefs put together an equally gorgeous carpaccio made entirely of thinly sliced tropical fruits. The veggie mains were my favourite though – smokey tandoori broccoli and nutty stuffed zucchini flower!

Roomali Fruit Chaat
carpaccio of dragon fruit, watermelon, papaya, pineapple with tangy chilli and lemon dressing

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Meat-wise, it seems like everyone had their own preferences – my dining partner and chef Suri were all praises for the tender slow cooked lamb shoulder (second servings were requested and granted yay!) while chef Tony (so glad to catch him before he left yesterday) liked the marinated duck leg most. Popular Australian wildbirds are also included on the menu with the tandoori squab (young pigeon) and stone grilled quail!

Main Course (Meat)
marinated duck leg stuffed with foie gras, pea puree and mushroom; australian squab with traditional tandoori marinade, garlic tempered spinach and crispy potato; slow cooked australian lamb shoulder crusted with grainy mustard marinade, basmati pulao with indian demi glaze

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Main Course (Vegetarian)
cottage cheese stuffed with spiced green peas, garlic tempered mustard leaves; zucchini flower stuffed with nuts, cooked in tandoor; tandoori broccoli with tangy marinade, indian black pepper sauce

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Dessert was quite puzzling. The description read “puff tart shell” and “caramelized fresh figs” but we were served the “tart” in a creme brulee form with dried fig instead. No issue, since it was pretty good all the same (and honestly, I was stuffed by then). Especially the rich and dark chocolate mousse with a hint of spices!

Caramelized Cardamon Fig Tart
puff tart shell with almond marzipan, caramelized cardamon fresh figs, raspberry sorbet, espresso mousse and indian spiced chocolate

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Lunch Set Menu: $48++ per person (12noon to 2.30pm)
Dinner Set Menus: $58++ or $88++ per person (7pm to 10.30pm)
Tandoor will feature a selection of Tony Bilson’s dishes til end January 2014.

Thanks Yan for arranging dinner!

Tandoor Restaurant
#B1, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre
11 Cavenagh Road
6730 0153

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Tandoor Restaurant

At Tandoor Restaurant, every meal begins with an appetising story.

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The Indian restaurant at the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre has unveiled its first revamp after 28 years. Boasting contemporary interiors, a new Head Chef and a menu that pays homage to the colourful stories that make up India’s rich culinary heritage, diners are taken on a journey from the moment they are seated as Tandoor’s servers bring India’s folktales to life, explaining the menu like knowledgeable storytellers.

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Four different dinner gourmet trail menus are available, priced from $48++ to $78++ for your choice of soup, kebabs, main course and dessert, plus receive exclusive coaster souvenirs at the end of the meal!

Samosa Chaat
fried pyramid-shaped pastry shell stuffed with potatoes and chickpeas and topped with sweet yogurt and tamarind chutney

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I was very impressed with the kebab sampler as every morsel on my plate was incredibly delicious, from the fresh meaty grilled lobster and prawn to the soft tender chunks of ocean perch. Not forgetting the classic vegetarian paneer cake and jalepeno corn kebab, the latter which I didn’t even know existed in the Indian culinary world till that evening! I’ll definitely be keeping a lookout for corn kebab from now on.

Shahi Lobster
lobster marinated with creamy cheesy garlic, enhanced with spices and grilled in tandoor
Mahi Rai
grilled ocean perch marinated with mustard and carom seeds
Honey Dill Grilled Prawns
jumbo prawns spiced with red chillies, honey and flavoured with dill leaves
Paneer Chupa Rustom
crispy savoury cakes stuffed with cheese
Jalepeno Corn Kebab
american corn seekh spiced with jalepeno chillies and cooked in tandoor

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Curries made of chicken, lamb, fish, prawn, vegetables and beans are common, but what about mango curry?! A Tandoor exclusive, the mango curry with its queer mix of sweet ripe mangoes in a savoury and spicy curry is as unique as it sounds! Officially the most memorable curry tasted ever.

Goan Fish Curry
chunks of ocean perch cooked in a tangy spiced coconut curry
Kadhai Prawns
stir fried prawns cooked with crushed spices and bell peppers
Mushroom Mattar
combination of mushroom and green peas curry
Palak Paneer
cottage cheese with spinach
Mango Curry
a unique ripe mango curry from the mangalore region of india
Dal Makhani
black lentils slow cooked overnight with tomatoes and garlic, finished with butter and cream

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Indian Breads
naan, garlic naan, lachha parantha (multi-layered whole wheat bread baked in the tandoor), tandoori wholemeal roti

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I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like Indian desserts, which are often too sweet (I’m just generalising) and disagreeable with my palate. Can’t say Tandoor has cured my dislike, but at least the handmade bailey’s and saffron pistachio kulfi were manageable…

Triple Sensation Dessert
bailey’s kulfi, rose and elaichi panna cotta, gajar halwa (traditional punjabi dessert made with grated carrots and milk)

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Another Triple Sensation Dessert
(I made up this name since this was an additional order haha)
saffron and pistachio kulfi, rasmalai dumplings made from cottage cheese, gulab jamun (deep-fried reduced milk balls immersed in rose flavored sugar syrup)

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Special thanks to Cheryl for inviting, and kudos to Amanda and Yan for spending TGIF with us!

Tandoor Restaurant
#B1, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre
11 Cavenagh Road
6730 0153
http://www.tandoor.com.sg/

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Curry GardenN

A last minute decision to celebrate public holiday Deepavali in true Indian style, our impromptu dinner at Curry GardenN at The Grandstand was better than expected! While BFF and I still prefer Zaffron Kitchen, I’d say Curry GardenN deserves at least a try. Everything was tasty and extremely affordable (to me anyway) too — 1 omelette, 2 veggie dishes, 3 naan, 4 drinks and 4 curries with complimentary papadums only set us back $20 each!

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Egg
omlet indian
Naan
garlic, onion, kashmiri naan
Veggies
gobhi manchurian, mushroom tikka –> these were superb!
Curries
masala chicken special, prawns sukka, fish tikka masala, chicken tikka

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Curry GardenN
#01-06 The Grandstand
200 Turf Club Road
6314 4640

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I’m very particular when it comes to Indian cuisine.

It can’t be too oily, too heavy, too sweet, and if you feed me with just curry and prata, I think we can’t be friends.

And because I seldom go for Indian food (an understatement), I like it when the menu has items that’s not so ordinary, such as the broccoli patties and walnut stuffed cottage cheese from Yantra! The latter is a surprise since I dislike anything blatantly cheese-cheese; this is more like a semi-firm piece of tofu filled with crunchy walnuts. +++ points for nice contrasting texture~

If that’s not compelling, how about this outlandish combination: raw oysters with… chilli ice cream?! I love the queer greenish ice cream; it’s like having desserts halfway through a very savoury meal!

I’m easy when it comes to fish — fresh and soft are all I want so my favourite main is definitely the tangy sweet orange marinated cod!

Then of course, with every like there’s a dislike: soft shell crab is too oily; stir fried cheese is too heavy after a few bites; and apricot tart is too sweet –> see what I mean about the three “too something” mentioned above?

Although the solid dessert is awfuldisappointing (sorry chef, I really don’t like your creation), my perfect ending comes in the form of an awesome mango lassi! It may be 5x the price of my usual fix from Tekka Market, but it’s wonderfully thick, creamy and fragrant… I had to stop myself from ordering a third glass haha.

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broccoli fused with cheese and bell peppers with in-house pineapple dip ($29++)

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cottage cheese stuffed with walnut and cooked in tandoor ($29++)

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stir fried paneer cheese with onion rings and black pepper ($25++)

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oysters tossed in tandoori marinade with…

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chilli ice cream!! ($49++)

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garlic, dried tomato and olive naan ($9-14++ each)

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okra dum bhindi, bell peppers($27++)

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fresh cod steeped in orange marinade ($45++)

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black pepper masala soft shell crab ($38++)

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“jammy” apricot tart with fresh cream ($18++)

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Special thanks to Sheryl for inviting and hosting my first (omg!) Indian meal of 2013!

Yantra
#01-28/29 Tanglin Mall
163 Tanglin Road
6836 3088

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Zaffron Kitchen

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!

Zaffron Kitchen
135 East Coast Road
6440 6786

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