Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Full Belly Of Spices At Diwali

With Diwali just around the corner, I thought it would be  appropriate to share our experiences at some Indian restaurants which Jerome and I had visited recently. Married to a Brit meant that my husband  was quite open to trying out new Indian dishes beyond the only British National dishes that he was familiar with which came in plastic boxes labelled with the brand Marks & Spencer's,  like Chicken Balti, Chicken Vindaloo, Chicken Masala and Chicken Korma.

So, after risking some harrowing experiences akin to a fiery volcano erupting within my tummy for almost two weeks, we bring you our recommendation of exquisite Indian fare from restaurants that suit every taste and budget.

Photo courtesy of David Ash,

Song of India

Each dinner experience here just gets better with the consistently impressive culinary standards coupled with the impeccable service displayed at Chef Milind Sovani's award-winning restaurant.   The restaurant showcased a contemporary interpretation of Indian cuisine in an opulent and palatial setting complete with soft illuminations and soothing piped-in music.

We started with an amuse-bouche of  spiced lentil chaat and this was followed shortly by rolled-up papadums with an array of tantalizing sauces and sweet chutney.

The main course was a Goan fish curry and a Chettinad prawn curry.  The former was a dish of made from cubes of fresh river fish simmered in a rich velvety curry flavored with coconut and kokam.

The Chettinad prawn curry was by far the most fiery dish.  Large tiger prawns were cooked in a curry prepared with red chilies and curry leaves from the Southern Tamil Nadu state.  

Both curries paired brilliantly with a basket of freshly baked garlic naan and their Dumbar prawn biryani which was a  Dhaba-styled biryani cooked with brown onions and a hint of kewda with succulent tiger prawns tossed in.

Dessert was one of Jerome's favourites, the Rasmalai.  A popular Bengali dessert,  the version here comprised of lightly sweetened homemade cheese dumplings in creamy milk.

How do we rate it? BELLY INCREDIBLE. Not cheap but definitely worth the money spent.

Muthu's Curry

I could not believe that this restaurant had been known to serve up some of the best curries since 1969.  It was as old as I was!   Established by Muthu Ayyakkannu, they have since modernised the set-up and operations to cater to an ever-changing clientele.  The restaurant management was obdurate on preserving the quality of their offerings by installing their kitchens with US-made Henny Penny equipment.  This ensured  that cooked food stayed warm without losing its moisture and winning flavours that had earned the  loyalty of countless patrons over the decades.

Our dinner started off with fish cutlets.These were dumplings of fish and potatoes fried to a golden brown.  Served piping hot with a refreshing mint  chutney, it made for a great starter.

The dishes in our main course came next. They were  Chicken Chukka, Masala Prawn and the Squid Sambal.  

The Chicken Chukka was a signature at the restaurant.  The chicken was deboned, seasoned in the chef's special fiery sauce and cooked with onions.  Rich in flavours and with a good level of spice,this definitely did not disappoint.

The  Masala Prawn came doused in a fierce red-hued paste which married the goodness of chillies, tomatoes and a smörgåsbord of spices to produce a spicy and slightly sweet palate teaser.

The Squid Sambal comprised of fresh tender squid rings prepared in a base of chili and tomatoes.This was fragrant yet mildly spiced and should please the less adventurous.

Their version of the biryani rice here used fluffy long-grained basmati and was served with Indian crackers and a side serving of braised vegetables.This was a perfect accompaniment to the intensely tasty mains!

How do we rate it? BELLY CONSISTENTLY GOOD. 

Jade of India

We paid Jade of India a visit upon the recommendation of a friend.  She thought we would be able to get a better variety of food that we could try here because it labelled itself as an "Indian multi-cuisine restaurant".  

We had an early dinner at Jade, so the restaurant was quite quiet save for our table and another family who was tucking into chaat a few tables away. We had the Samundri Moti. This was Jade's signature dish made up of soft boneless fish marinated with yoghurt , a hint of carom seed powder, mustard oil and assorted Indian spices. The fish was indeed one of the best dishes we had. The meat was still firm, the hint of spice was subtle and did not over-power the freshness of the fish. 

We also tried the Chettinad Masala Prawns. Picked from their South Indian menu, the succulent prawns was pan-fried with garlic, ginger and seasonings. This dish would not be for the faint-hearted. It was way too spicy for me and I tasted more spices than the prawns.   

The chicken biryani was not worth raving too much about. While it came with a generous amount of well-marinated tender boneless chicken, I found the dish too oily.  

The last dish we had was the Daal Butter Fry. I expected it to be the usual offering of yellow daal cooked in spices which might taste pasty and look pallid. However this was the best yellow daal I have ever had.  The daal had a smokiness about it and was rich and creamy.  This dish, together with the Sumadri Moti was Jade's saving grace during our dinner.

How do we rate it? BELLY ORDINARY.

Wherever you choose to have a meal to celebrate the Festival of Lights, the Belly Team wishes you an awesome Diwali filled with lots of fun and laughter.

About The Writer:

This blog post was co-written by my brother Jerome and I. Although we are siblings who grew up 11 years apart, shaped by differing experiences to see the world from different perspectives, we do share a common obsession – FOOD.  We celebrate our passion for life with food.  However, our attitudes to food are quite different and the way we celebrate our love for food are also quite different.  Jerome lives to eat and hoovers everything edible that crosses his path.  As he shovels food into his mouth with that fork in his right hand, he takes photographs of what he eats, and posts pictures and notes up on Facebook with his left.  Often, his beautifully written prose about what he had eaten would be 7 paragraphs in length and would not have any punctuations in between because he had been too busy multi-tasking.  

I, on the other hand, eat to live. It is not just about my attempts to eat healthily. As I am a “cam-whore” and “social media hussy”, I spend about half an hour styling my food, taking photographs, writing notes and posting them across my social media platforms before eating them, right after the hubby has paid for the bill and is about to head out of the restaurant.  I enjoy reading all my posts about what I had eaten because I know that I had lived fully in spite of watching what I eat.  Welcome to the foodie world of the quirky Ong siblings.