Yantra Restaurant – Temple Food Festival

Food and Indian festivals go hand-in-hand. During the auspicious season of Navratri, the Indian fine-dining restaurant, Yantra has launched a ‘Temple Food Festival’. This event will continue till Oct 10th 2016 and is available only for dinner. Located in Tanglin Mall, this restaurant is a well-known name to people staying in Singapore and food festivals here always catch my attention. Helmed by Chef Hemant Oberoi, the restaurant is serving wholesome Indian plates (thalis) from four distinct regions in India during this festive season. The thalis being served are: 1) Golden Temple Thali (Punjab in North India) 2) Tirupati Balaji Temple (Andhra Pradesh in South India) 3) Jagannath Puri Temple (Orissa in East India) 4) Nathdwara Temple ( Rajasthan in West). The diversity in Indian cuisines is projected in a balanced manner via this food festival. According to Hindu tradition, temple food is termed ‘prasad’ (offerings to God) and hence this festival is fully vegetarian.

The Orders
Punjabi food is my weakness and it was a no-brainer for me to order the ‘Golden Temple Thali’ from Amritsar. But before I get started on the food items, let me just say that visiting the Golden Temple is an experience in itself. I am glad that I had the privilege to visit this Sikh temple. Many articles term it as the world’s largest free kitchen with their langars (canteen) serving almost 100,000 visitors everyday. But what amazed me during my visit was the amazing and generous spirit of the volunteers who relentlessly work to make you feel at home.

Coming back to Yantra’s thali, it had the standard items of Punjabi cuisine. Punjabi cuisine is so much about the authenticity of taste that there were many hits and few misses in the thali. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Kali Mirch Papad’ for its slight kick of spice, ‘Pakode Waali Kadi’ for the marinated fritters to have fully absorbed the flavour of kadi, ‘Aloo aur achar waali sabzi’ for the gravy style potato dish made well and ‘Langar wali dal’ which is a treat of lentils. If you are a fan of Dahi Bhalle (Vadas soaked in yogurt), then you will like it – but this is the slightly sweeter version. What disappointed me was the ‘Chole’ as it did not hit the right notes for me. This is a spot-on thaali with bhatura, garlic naan and rotis as the breads served on the side.

Golden Temple Thali

Golden Temple Thali


The beautiful state of Rajasthan in India needs no introduction. And one of the famous temples near Udaipur is the Shrinathji Mandir. Mainly known for their saatvic tradition in terms of food at this temple, Rajasthani influence was amply evident in their cooking style.
Our next order was the ‘Nathdwara Temple Thali’ and we were quite eager to try it. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Aloo Methi’ as the potatoes has captured the right flavour of fenugreek leaves, ‘GawarFalli’ which was long cluster beans done to perfection,’Dal Baati’ which was quite good, ‘Chokki Patta Gobi’ which was tasty cabbage cooked in Indian spices. The vegetable variety and the overall balance of sweet and savory dishes made this thali interesting for me.
Nathwara Temple Thali

Nathdwara Temple Thali


Save the best for last, especially if we are talking about Indian desserts. The ‘Kulfi’ is a part of Golden Temple Thali and is extremely delicious. Its a denser and creamier version of ice-cream and was well-flavored with cardamom.
Kulfi

Kulfi


‘Basundi’ is thick sweetened milk that is flavored with cardamom or saffron and garnished with nuts like pistachios. It was interesting to try it with Lapsi which is basically broken wheat. And also served alongside was ‘Aate Ka Halwa’ and this was a part of Nathdwara Temple Thali. The basundi was overly sweet for my liking.
Basundi and Lapsi

Basundi and Lapsi


On the whole, if you want to experience the authentic taste of vegetarian food from different states in India, this is worth it. Priced at $49++ per plate, it was good for the experience and ambience. And what better way to work out a weekend appetite!

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Indian vegetarian ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Orchard
Address: 163 Tanglin Rd, #01-28 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 247933
Timings: Till Oct 10th 2016, only for dinner
Website: http://www.yantra.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Temple-Food-Festival-2016-Menu.pdf
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Luxe Singapore – Keong Saik Road [Gourmet Greens Week]

It’s time for vegetarians in Singapore to celebrate as the Gourmet Greens festival has begun. Running from 23rd – 29th Nov, this festival showcases some of Singapore’s best restaurants taking on an all-vegetarian menu. Priced at $30+(+) for lunch and $45+(+) for dinner, the variety of cuisines that can be tried as part of this week is commendable. After scanning through all the menus, we decided to try Luxe which is situated along the bustling Keong Saik Road. Luxe is a Sydney based cafe that has launched its first outlet in Singapore a few months ago. As we entered the restaurant, we noticed the long bar counter decorated with colorful bottles, Nordic stools, wooden chairs and warm lighting. Its nice to come here for special occasions or date nights. On weekdays, you can definitely enjoy a quiet meal here in peace.

Luxe decor

Luxe decor

The Orders
The orders were based on the Luxe ‘Gourmet Greens’ menu. It was a five-course meal with interesting options which would be served to you along with a bottle of Fiji water. Reservations are to be made via Chope and ‘Gourmet Greens’ option needs to mentioned during reservation.

Luxe dinner menu

Luxe dinner menu at $45+


Our first course was the ‘Parmesan doughnuts’ which came dusted with Parmesan shavings and Parmesan cream. This savoury finger food is as cheesy as it sounds. The cream acted as a good dip and the trademark taste of parmesan hits you in the end. This is a good starter and would pair perfectly with a cocktail.

Parmesan doughnuts

Parmesan doughnuts with parmesan cream


There is a growing trend to make vegetarian food fun and the next dish is a perfect example of delicious food. As soon as the ‘Quinoa and Beetroot Falafels’ were served, the things I noticed immediately about the dish were the pearls of quinoa and the deep red colour of the falafels. The under-salted asparagus along with the minted yogurt lent great balance to the dish. The slightly dry but perfectly crisped falafels when dipped into the thick yogurt made a wholesome bite in the mouth. Full points to this dish, it was perfection!

Quinoa and beetroot falafel

Quinoa and beetroot falafel


It is tough to get good quality burrata cheese. Burrata is similar to mozzarella cheese but much more enriched in the center. This was an unique combination – ‘Burrata with Grilled Broccoli’ along with pickled cabbage. The broccoli was extremely fresh and green and suited the theme of Gourmet Greens. The cheese drizzled with olive oil was easy to spread and paired well with the veggies. Recommended.

Burrata with broccoli

Burrata with grilled broccoli and pickled cabbage


Since I am neither a fan of mushrooms nor eggs, I asked for ‘Miso Mushroom rice’ without those ingredients. Since miso is quite polarizing in nature, the taste was quite alien to me and I could not enjoy it much. The sprinkled fried shallots and bokchoy were decent but the whole dish did not combine well for me.This could also be due to the fact that I am not used to having miso regularly.

Miso mushroom rice

Miso mushroom rice


The dessert course was very interesting. On the menu, were the ‘Pandan Madeleines’ served with kaya and coconut cream. Since the madeleines were not green in colour, I think there must have been some amount of pandan infused in it. The kaya mixes well with coconut cream and acts as a perfect base for the madeleines to be dipped in it before taking a bite. Not overly sweet, the madeleines were soft and nicely done.

Pandan madeleines

Pandan madeleines with kaya and coconut cream


It is absolutely encouraging to see a week focusing on vegetarian food and exploring variety of ingredients that deserve a mention. The entire list of participating restaurants can be found here http://www.chope.co/singapore-restaurants/pages/gourmetgreens
As far as Luxe is concerned – if you are looking for quality ingredients, good food, calm ambiance, good service and for the heart that is put into the food which is visible in the plate, do pay them a visit! And if you are a vegetarian or a foodie, go pay any of these restaurants a visit and celebrate good food!

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Modern Australian ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Outram Park
Address: 1 Keong Saik Road, #01-04 The Working Capitol, Singapore 089109
Timings: Tue-Fri: 11am – late; Sat: 9.30am – late; Sun: 9.30am – 4pm
Website: http://luxesydney.sg/

Thai Festival 2015 at Orchard Road

Thailand is well known for great tourist spots and happy locals. As part of good diplomatic relations with Singapore, the food and fanfare of Thailand has come to life at Orchard Road in the form of a food festival. Thai Festival 2015 runs from 3rd Sept – 6th Sept. There are food and accessory stalls along with ongoing cultural displays of Thai traditions. It is an interesting peek into the pleasant ‘Sawadee Kha’ nation.

The Orders
To begin with, they have put up some free sampling stalls modeled after the famous floating markets of Thailand. It is fascinating to watch the desserts being made in the traditional vessels. We first tried the ‘Kanom Krok’ which are the Thai Coconut Rice Cakes steamed in a Appe kind of pan. The taste is a nice blend of savoury and sweet and definitely worth trying.

Kanom Krak

Kanom Krak


The most unique thing that I tried was the ‘Roti sai mai’ which consists of a green crepe made from pandan leaves filled with cotton candy made with spun sugar. I must say this was delicious. This was also one of the free sampling stalls.

Roti sai mai

Roti sai mai


If you are a vegetarian and looking to have a proper meal like lunch or dinner at these food stalls, then you will be disappointed. The only thing I managed to find was the ‘Mango Papaya Salad’ on the first day made in the authentic Thai way. The chilli padi and peanuts get mixed with the papaya and are whisked in a wooden bowl shaped like a big mortar and pestle. This is one helluva spicy salad!

Mango and papaya salad

Mango and papaya salad at $5


It also depends on what time of the day you are going since most of the food items had gotten over quite soon on the first day. There are a lot of food product stalls selling fried onions, fruits, dried mango, candied orange peels, and more. They offer samples as well. I bought the Green Curry, Red Curry and Tom Yum Paste bottles as they looked quite good. Sharing some of my food shopping here – Brown Rice Crackers, Candied Banana Chips and Taro Chips. The Mini Coconut Crepes also looked interesting though I am yet to taste them.
Thai food items

Thai food items (3 for $10)


There were some handbags displayed by ‘Thai Association Singapore’ for ladies to get their shopping fix. There are also other stalls selling different kinds of accessories and clothes. The spa zone has massage options and photo booths.

Thai association

Thai association Singapore


On the whole, if you would like to be transported to the street markets in Thailand with variety of food items like organic brown rice, honey with ginger, and lemongrass drinks – do visit the Thai Festival 2015.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Food festival- Thai cuisine variaitions ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Orchard
Address: Royal Thai Embassy, Orchard Road, Outside Exit E Orchard MRT
Timings: 10 am – 9 pm (3rd Sept – 6th Sept)
Website: https://www.facebook.com/RoyalThaiEmbassySingapore

Suvai 2015 – Singapore’s First Indian Gourmet Festival

In Tamil, Suvai means to taste the flavours. When Singapore showcases an Indian gourmet festival, I knew I had to taste Indian cuisine in all its glory. Suvai 2015 is an ongoing festival running until August 2nd 2015 and it is located just outside Bugis MRT on Tan Quee Lan Street. Shielded from the rains, it is a tent like structure with ample seating and good hygiene standards. The various spices used in Indian cooking were displayed in a very attractive manner. There is also a live telecast for the attempt at ‘Guinness Book of World Records for the World’s Largest Curry’ which was extremely interesting to watch. At the time of writing this review, I do not know if the record has been made, hence I am keeping my fingers crossed 🙂

Suvai 2015

Suvai 2015


Suvai Guinness

Suvai Guinness attempt

The Orders
Chefs from various culinary backgrounds have set up their stalls. Each stall showcases three unique dishes. For vegetarians, there are dessert options in all stalls and main course options in some stalls. Let me update you on the interesting things I tried.

Chef Jonathan Lee, Head Chef at Artichoke
This was the best stall offering 2 veg dishes. First, we tried ‘Aloo Gobi Sabich’ which was fried cauliflower, potato hummus and herbs filled in pita pockets. The cauliflower was fried to perfection and along with coriander garnish, this dish was extremely tasty.

Aloo gobi sabbich

Aloo gobi sabich at $6


The chef had created ‘Masala Tea Slushie’ as one of his signature dishes. Everything about this drink was unique. Freshly brewed tea with a seven spice blend from Sri Lanka formed the frozen slushie base. It was topped with coconut ice cream and the entire combination worked like magic. The cinnamon notes from the tea hit perfectly and I would highly recommend this.

Masala tea slushie

Masala tea slushie at $5

Chef Vik
The next stall we tried and liked showcased dishes by Chef Vik. Our first order was ‘Potato and Paneer Croquettes’ which consisted of deep-fried crispy croquettes served with minty spinach puree. The dish was presented very aesthetically with fine bean sprouts and almond shavings which enhanced the taste. The size of croquettes were slightly smaller in size compared to our expectation.

Potato and paneer croquettes

Potato and paneer croquettes at $5


We tried the dessert which was ‘Paayasam Panna Cotta’ which had paayasam infused panna cotta topped with frozen meringue and fresh berries. The instant freeze using liquid nitrogen added to the visual effect of this dessert and they nailed the texture of the pannna cotta.

Paayasam panna cotta

Paayasam panna cotta at $5

Chef Devagi Sanmugham
When it comes to Indian starters, chaat is an eternal favourite. We tried a variant in this called ‘The Explosion’ which had potatoes with chaat masala, mint and tamarind chutney and pomegranates served in a crispy shell shaped like a small shot glass.

The Explosion

The Explosion at $6


As a dessert, ‘The Saffron Puffs’ had a combination of different flavours like pistachio, gula melaka and coffee in the sauce. The crispy donuts were infused with saffron.

Saffron puffs

Saffron puffs at $5

Chef Thanyadar Suteedechanon
At this stall, we tried ‘Garam Masala Tom Yum Rice’ which had the Thai ingredients like galangal and lemongrass in balance. For the vegetarian version, we asked for no prawns. I wanted the rice to be warmed better – the dish was served at room temperature.

Garam masala tom yum rice

Garam masala tom yum rice at $6


There are also ongoing live music bands and masterchef classes happening here. The festival will end on 2nd Aug at 10 pm. Check their website for timings. For unique Indian offerings, for an efficiently managed food festival, the different tastes at Suvai 2015 beckon you at the earliest! Head there this weekend for a gastronomical delight!

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cuisine Type: Food festival- Indian cuisine variaitions ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Bugis
Address: Outside Exit D Bugis MRT
Timings: 12 pm – 10 pm (Today and tomorrow)
Website: http://www.suvai.sg/