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.
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.
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.
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.
‘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.
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|