Bitter Gourd Chips / Karela Chips

It’s quite evident from the name bitter gourd (karela), that not many people would be a fan of this vegetable. Apart from the health benefits, if made well, it can be transformed into amazing snacks. When they take the form of crispy fries, the humble bitter gourd can become a delicacy. The mild bitterness blends well with the spices and makes it a good tea time snack or side dish along with dals, sambhar and rasam.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 3-4 pax
Time: 20 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 4 small sized bitter gourds(karela)
  • 4 tbsp rice flour
  • 3 tbsp besan
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – to shallow fry

bittergourd chips

Bitter gourd/Karela Chips


Method:

  • Wash the bitter gourd, discard the ends, and cut it into uniformly thin rounds. Then pat-dry the pieces using a cloth. I did not de-seed them, but you can choose to do so if you are using the longer bitter gourds.
  • Cut bittergourd pieces

    Cut bittergourd pieces

  • Once dry, take the cut bitter gourd pieces in a bowl and add all the spice powders and mix well. Add 1-2 tsp of oil so that all slices are coated with the spices. Alternatively, you can sprinkle some drops of water but you have to take care that the mixture doesn’t turn soggy.
  • mixing bittergourd with spices

    Mixing the bitter gourd and spices

  • Heat oil in a pan on medium low flame. Since the size of my bitter gourd pieces was small, I just shallow fried them. Add the pieces one by one into the oil in batches.
  • Flip the pieces so that the pieces fry evenly on both sides. Remove them from the flame when they turn crisp. Drain the excess oil using a paper towel.
  • Serve them hot to munch, as snacks or during tea time.
  • bittergourd chips

    Bitter gourd / Karela Chips


Tips:

  • The older and bigger bitter gourds will have the more bitter seeds. I would recommend removing them.
  • You can sprinkle some aamchur / chat masala on the chips once you take them out of oil while they are still very hot.
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Bikanervala Singapore – Changi Airport Terminal 3

Its no mean feat that Changi Airport has been considered to be the best airport in the world consistently. It is the global hub for most flights passing through the SEA region and has a steady stream of travelers and tourists frequenting its space. So its imperative for it to have a wide variety of dining options that suit different cultures. Adding its flavour to the newly opened dining joints in Changi Airport Terminal 3 is Bikanervala , a fully vegetarian restaurant serving all types of Indian cuisine. Operating under new management, the restaurant has amped up its presentability aspect in terms of its huge seating space, warm lighting, a mithai (sweets) counter and a snacks corner. It has a distinguishable red sign that cannot be missed as you walk towards the corner of the viewing mall from where you can also see the flights land and take off. The fact that it is open 24*7 also makes it convenient in case you are a vegetarian and looking for eating options at Changi Airport.

Bikanervala Changi

Bikanervala Changi Airport T3


Mithai counter at Bikanervala

Mithai counter at Bikanervala

The Orders
Bikarnervala is an Indian homegrown chain that has an international presence and a standardized global menu. The same menu has been launched in Singapore and it has a lot of variety in terms of subsets of Indian cuisine – North Indian, South Indian and Indian Chinese. So basically you’ll get to taste the diversity of Indian cuisine at fairly affordable prices.

Bikanervala is famous for its chaats globally and hence we tried their recommended dish, the ‘Raj Kachori’. Let me tell you that its a royal treat – both in terms of presentation and taste. Kachoris are fried cakes of refined flour stuffed with lentils and yogurt and topped with mint and dates sauce. The tangy and sweet flavours blend beautifully in this dish and is meant to be eaten hot – so eat this tasty appetizer before the outer shell starts getting soft and soggy.

Raj Kachori

Raj Kachori at $6.5


Since we are fans of North Indian food, we tried the ‘Chole Bhature’. The chole (chickpeas) were made with authentic spices and turned out to be delicious. The bhature which are the puffed and fried version of Indian bread were non-greasy and did not lose their fluffiness for the entire course of the meal and that was really good. Highly recommended.
Chhole Bhature

Chhole Bhature at $9.5


For lunch and dinner, they also have thalis and combo meals on their menu. We tried their ‘Deluxe Thali’ which had so many items in the right portion sizes that it is worthy of being called a meal. The first thing that caught my attention was the plate that was used for serving. The compartmentalized plate was spot-on as it helps in segregating the dry and gravy items with great convenience and hence you don’t find yourself struggling for space on the plate. In their Deluxe Thali, they serve Paneer, Dal Makhani, Veg of the Day, Raita, Pulao, Naan, Laccha Paratha, Papad, salad, pickle and sweet. Most of the items were tasty but the notable ones were the Dal Makhani, Pulao and the Paratha. This veg thali is ideal if you want to eat a decent portion size before catching a flight.
Deluxe thali

Deluxe thali at $14.5


Ever since Ananda Bhavan closed at Changi, one does miss the availability of popular South Indian dishes like idlis and dosas at the airport. Because of the extensive options at Bikanervala, you’ll find those standard items here now. The dosa was crisp and nice and the sambhar was well-seasoned. They also have mini-utappams and vadas that are good for breakfast or as snacks. The South Indian items are definitely good but overall I preferred their North Indian items since that is their forte and they have a better grasp on the authentic taste in that genre.
Dosa idli and vada

Dosa idli and vada with sambhar


To combat the humidity in Singapore, a refreshing glass of ‘Mango Lassi’ never fails. The yogurt based drink acted as an effective thirst quencher and was not overly sweet. The taste of alphonso mango in the drink was authentic and we liked it.
Mango Lassi

Mango Lassi


They have a mind-boggling assortment of sweets that can be had a la carte or conveniently packaged and taken home. They also have mithai boxes that are suitable for gifting. After putting in some thought, we tried the Kaju Roll (Rose), Rasmalai and Lamba Jamun. I have to say that their Rasmalai is outstanding with its perfectly chilled badam pista sauce and great texture of the malai. Do not miss it if you are here! In the Kaju Roll, the rose with cashews was an interesting combination to taste and it also had a substantial amount of pistachios to add some more texture. And if you are fan of the jamuns in sweets, then I preferred the Lamba Jamun to the Kala Jamun here. This place is a Mecca for Indian sweet lovers!
Mithai at Bikanervala

L to R: Rose Kaju Roll, Rasmalai, Lamba Jamun


Since it’s mainly Indian cuisine, if you are a vegan, you will find some items that cater to your dietary requirements and some that can be customized. This space is quite well-done and suitable for large groups. If you work in the East, you can also head here for team lunches. Their in-house ‘Bikano’ snacks are available here and so are their specialty items. We picked up a box of ‘Achari Mathri’ which is a teatime snack and it was very good. For enticing your taste buds with authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine, for its convenience of location, for its friendly service and for its astounding variety in Indian sweets, Bikanervala at Changi airport is a must-visit. Here’s hoping that the quality of food remains consistent at this restaurant as it was during this meal.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Indian ★★★★
Nearest MRT: Changi Airport
Address: Changi Airport, Terminal 3, Viewing Mall Level 4
Timings: Mon-Sun: 24 hrs
Website: https://www.facebook.com/bikanervalaSG/

Boyle’s Coffee – Bukit Timah Plaza

Do not underestimate the power of the coffee, especially when its situated next to a taxi stand! Yes, that’s how I spotted the newly opened Boyle’s Coffee – when the wait for a cab seemed endless. Situated in the old shopping mall of Bukit Timah Plaza, Boyle’s Coffee lures you inside with its warm decor and robust coffee aroma. The seats are in the form of long communal tables which makes it great to strike up conversations with coffee aficionados.

boyles coffee

Boyle’s Coffee


boyles coffee

Boyle’s Coffee cake display

The Orders
They have a three page menu serving hot and cold coffees and light bites. Their cake display boasts of a variety of cakes with different flavours. Apart from the standard offerings, this artisanal cafe has a variety of specialty brews across the spectrum – from the Ethiopian and Kenyan beans to the adventurous Yuzu Latte. For the tea lovers, they have some TWG teas on the menu.

When I want the perfect coffee fix filled with warm flavors, I tend to go for the ‘Caramel Latte’. Since it was a rainy day, I ordered the hot version. This was well-made with the subtle flavor of caramel cutting through the thick creamy milk and foam layers and made me happy. The latte art was also very good. Highly recommended.

Hot Caramel Latte

Hot Caramel Latte at $6


What’s perfect with a good cup of coffee? The answer is a cake, especially when the cafe offers an assortment of them. I got drawn to the ‘Tiramisu Cake’ instantly due to its presentation. The checkered coffee effect on top with a mille crêpe bottom had immense visual appeal. Its on the lower side on the sweetness quotient and hence pairs well with coffee. On its own, I found it to be less sweet and a bit dry.
Tiramisu cake

Tiramisu cake at $7


In the form of vegetarian light bites they have the ‘Cheese Grilled Sandwich’ and the ‘Butter Jam Toast’. Savour the goodness of simple toast along with your cup of coffee or tea. I wish they had softened the butter before serving it.
butter jam toast

Butter and Jam Toast at $4


Boyle’s Coffee is famous for their cold water drip Dutch coffee which I definitely intend to try sometime soon. For their coffee quality, quick service and welcoming ambiance, Boyle’s Coffee is worth visiting.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Coffee and light bites ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Beauty World
Address: L1 Near Bukit Timah Plaza Taxi Stand, 1 Jalan Anak Bukit, Singapore 588996
Timings: Mon-Fri: 9.30am – 9.30pm ; Sat-Sun: 9am – 9.30pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boyles-Coffee/1135634869814118

Urad Dal Chutney – Side Dish for Idli/Dosa

When you want something that’s a little different from the traditional coconut or coriander chutneys, this Urad Dal Chutney steps in as a perfect side dish for idlis and dosas. Since this is a no coconut chutney, it can be prepared in larger quantities and refrigerated – typically for up to a week. The red chillies and tamarind make a spicy and tangy combination and the dish attains balance. This chutney makes me breeze through a work week if I have idlis or dosas in my breakfast plan.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 15 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • A small ball of tamarind
  • 3 red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic pod, skin peeled (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

Urad dal chutney

Urad dal chutney


Method:

  • In a pan, add the oil and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir for a bit and then add the urad dal, red chilli and tamarind. Sauté the dal on a low flame till it turns golden brown. Then switch off the flame and remove this aside on a plate to cool.
  • In the same pan, add the chopped onions and garlic and cook them till the onions turn brown. Then switch off the flame.
  • Now allow both sets of roasted items to cool completely.
  • Then put these items into a mixer. Add salt and grind into a smooth paste. Add water depending on the consistency you want and your chutney is ready.
  • Finally temper the chutney in sesame oil with mustard seeds, urad dal and a single red chilli just before serving.
  • Urad dal chutney

    Urad dal chutney


Beirut Grill – Bussorah Street

If you are looking for Lebanese food in Singapore, then the best place to find it is in and around Arab Street. My craving for this cuisine led me to Beirut Grill, a restaurant serving authentic Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. This small restaurant is designed with Arabian motifs and artifacts making it quite a colorful setting. It has both indoor and alfresco seating, which helps if you want to embrace the vibes of the nightlife of the bustling Bussorah street, especially on a Friday evening.

Beirut Grill

Beirut Grill

The Orders
I enjoy Lebanese cuisine because it usually has a lot of vegetarian options. The dishes usually have vegetables, fruits and whole grains. If you go as a larger group of people, then Beirut Grill is famous for its mezze platter, either hot or cold. But since we were just the two of us, we ordered the individual dishes.

We went with the staple order of soup to start the meal. In the Middle East, ‘Lentil Soup’ is a common dish. This soup was made with the same lentils as Indian dal, but with a texture resembling a classic soup. It was made thick and creamy and garnished with freshly squeezed lemon juice and parsley. This was a delicious soup and acted as a good start to the meal.

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup at $7


A must order side dish is the Batata Harra which is a delicious Lebanese appetizer made with potatoes and cilantro. The sautéed potatoes had such a nice spice kick to them with the chilli and fried onions. They disappeared from the plate in no time. Recommended dish.
Batata Harra

Batata Harra at $12


Falafel wraps are addictive because there is hardly anything in them not to like. Beirut Grill’s version had fried falafel, lettuce and tomatoes wrapped in a roll and finished with a spread of hummus and tahini. The falafels made from fava beans and chickpeas were crisp, had an authentic taste and were pretty awesome. The wrap is served with pickles and fries on the side. The portion size is quite good and is apt for the appetite during lunch or dinner time. Highly recommended.
Falafel Roll

Falafel Roll at $14


Sometimes they also have an ongoing special menu which also has a decent number of vegetarian items. You’ll also get to catch a glimpse of some belly dancing during your dining experience in the evenings. For its tasty dishes, for an authentic Middle Eastern cuisine fix and for its friendly service, Beirut Grill is worth visiting.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Lebanese and Middle Eastern ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Bugis
Address: 72 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199485
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11am – 11pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/beirut.grill.restaurant/

Methi Chole Sabzi / Fenugreek Leaves and Chickpeas Sabzi

When you want to pack proteins in your diet, get going with chickpeas. North Indian style curries with chickpeas are perfect for lunchbox recipes. Methi Chole is a popular Punjabi dish that combines fenugreek leaves with chole in a spicy gravy. It’s also a convenient way to include greens in your meal in a tasty manner. The aroma of this curry is amazing and it’ll make you want to eat it as soon as you make it.
Recipe Details :
Serves: 4 pax
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients :

  • 2 cups methi leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 big tomato, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cardamom pods (break and finely powder)
  • 2 green chillies, slit in half along the length
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp aamchur / dry mango powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil

Methi Chole

Methi Chole


Method:

  • Wash the fenugreek leaves and chop them roughly.
  • Fenugreek leaves

    Fenugreek leaves

  • Wash and soak the chole in water for 6 – 8 hours.
  • Drain the water and add the chole in a pressure cooker along with 3 tsp of salt and 3 cups water. Pressure cook this for 6 whistles on a medium flame. Then switch off the cooker and let it cool till the pressure is naturally released.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaves, cloves, cardamom powder and let them crackle for a few seconds.
  • Now add the chopped onion, a pinch of salt and saute them till they are translucent. Add ginger garlic paste to the onions and continue cooking till they are golden brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies at this stage and fry them for 2 mins.
  • Then add the turmeric powder, garam masala powder, dry mango powder and coriander powder. Mix well to combine. Let this paste cook for 2-3 mins.
  • Add the chole along with the cooking water. Taste and add more salt, if required.
  • Cook the chole for around 10 mins on a low flame.
  • Finally add the chopped fenugreek leaves and mix them well and cook them for another 3 mins. The aroma of the sabzi is amazing.
  • Methi chole

    Methi chole

  • Tastes good when served hot and best paired with roti or naan.

Tips:

  • Make sure the chole is well cooked before you add it to the gravy. You can cook it for some more time in the pressure cooker if needed.
  • Ensure that the methi leaves are washed well. Rinse them multiple times before cutting.

Nukkad Restaurant and Panchtantra Breakfast menu launch – Syed Alwi Road

A ‘Nukkad’ in Hindi is a street corner where people generally hang out and talk about their daily life. In the modern times, it also loosely and conveniently translates into a grab-on-the-go concept that is ideal for takeaways. At a stone’s throw from Mustafa, is the newly opened Nukkad, a flagship restaurant of the Panchtantra group, serving Indian drinks and desserts on Syed Alwi Road. Those of us who have grown up in India will identify with the fact that we typically have a craving for a late night dessert binge in the form of chuskis (golas), milkshakes and lassis. Now imagine finding all of them at a convenient location after the exhausting exercise of weekly grocery shopping at Mustafa! A quick glance at their menu will show that all the favourite flavours that go in these items are present to bring a wave of nostalgia. They have also launched a new breakfast menu in the main Panchtantra restaurant which will also be covered in the latter part of this blog post.

Nukkad menu

Nukkad menu

Nukkad – The Orders

As the days get hotter, it’s best to pamper yourself with a refreshing drink. With the season of mangoes around, we decided to try the milkshake made with the king of fruits – ‘Mango Magic’. Without an iota of doubt, I can say that Alphonso mangoes are superior in their sweetness, richness and flavour. They are best suited to be used as an ingredient in a milkshake that also acts as a filling dessert. This drink was filled with the creamy and slightly heavy texture of delicious mangoes. Interspersed in the shake were a small quantity of chocolate chips which act as a nice twist. Do not miss this if you are a fan of Indian mangoes.

Mango Magic and Badam Tutti Frutti

Mango Magic and Badam Tutti Fruity


Another drink absolutely worth trying is the ‘Badam Tutti Frutti Milkshake’. This delicious summer cooler is loaded with the goodness of almonds and pistachios. It acts as the perfect refreshment since it’s extremely light in texture which makes it as easy to drink as buttermilk. A single sip of this well-made drink and you don’t feel like keeping the glass down – highly recommended.
Chuski is an ice lolly made up of crushed ice and flavored with various syrups like rose, khus, orange, strawberry or the famous kala khatta. It is also known as gola and is a vivid memory of my childhood in India. Nukkad gives you the option to mix upto four flavours of these syrups and customize your chuski. We tried the recommended combination of ‘Rose and Khus’ which was topped off with a slight sprinkle of chaat masala and it was an enjoyable experience. Khus is a fragrant, cooling herb with a woody aroma but is not overpowering like sandalwood. It goes well in sherbets and ice lollies and quite interesting to try as an unique option.
Two in one chuski

Two in one chuski at $4.5

Panchtantra Breakfast – The Orders
With an endeavor to make your mornings special, Panchtantra have launched their breakfast menu which will be available from 7.30-10.30 am everyday. These items will act as useful vegetarian options for Indian tourists who mostly stay in the area or seek to pack something and take while they are visiting attractions in Singapore. They have poha, upma, kachori, samosa and kulche as the main items in their breakfast menu.

We tried their ‘Chole Kulche’ which is a loved street food in North India. The chickpeas are made with an authentic Punjabi taste and traditional spices – and they are delicious! The kulche are made in a traditional oven, topped off with a generous amount of butter and best when eaten hot. You can opt for no butter, if you want. This item is extremely filling since two kulchas are served in one plate.

Chole Kulcha

Chole Kulcha


Kachoris are crusty, flaky deep-fried snacks that are popular as street food. We ordered the Aloo Kachori and this version had a spicy and tangy potato masala inside that will remind you of the aloo sabzi that you eat with pooris. The presentation of the dish was top-notch – spiralized onions, a sprig of coriander and the outer lining with dots of tamarind and dates chutney. Eat a little of everything in one bite to fully enjoy the dish.
Aloo Kachori

Aloo Kachori


For their new concept of a Indian drinks and desserts bar, for their chuskis and their convenient location, drop by this Nukkad and catch up on stories with your family and friends.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Indian ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Farrer Park
Address: 83 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207662
Timings: Mon-Sun: 7.30am – 11.30pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/panchtantrasg/