North(y) and Nice

Sample North Asian cuisine at some surprising finds in Singapore

Issue: Sep 2011

Go India dish
Go India Clarke Quay introduces new dishes like this lamb chop to go with its new focus on North Indian cuisine

North Asia refers to the countries India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka. Although each country has its own unique flavours, much of North Asian cuisine shares certain similarities. There is the generous use of exotic herbs and spices, the healthy dose of yoghurt, the love of lamb, the wide variety of vegetarian dishes, in addition to the time-honoured grilling and clay-oven methods of cooking.

Since Singapore is the unofficial food capital of the East, you don't have to be a globetrotter to taste the cuisines of North Asia. We have them right here in Singapore, at CapitaMalls Asia's malls.

Kachhi Mirchi Ka Chicken from Ras the Essence of India
Ras The Essence of India's signature dish, Kachhi Mirchi Ka Chicken, is soaked in a thick, spicy green chilli and cashew nut paste

Coriander, cumin, turmeric, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, star anise, saffron, mint – these are just some of the herbs and spices that lend North Asian cuisine its rich taste. At Ras The Essence of India, at riverside dining district, Clarke Quay, spices start off the meal with dramatic flair. The North Indian restaurant, with al fresco dining options that overlook the scenic Singapore River, offers a starter called Cucumber Raita - a refreshing salad of chopped cucumber in yoghurt spiced with cumin served with a coriander garnish. The distinctive aroma of the cumin adds another layer to the yoghurt sauce. Kachhi Mirchi Ka Chicken is a signature Ras The Essence of India dish that draws on the oomph of the green chilli to lift the thick cashew nut paste marinade. This delicacy from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, comes in both chicken and lamb versions.

Go India Clarke Quay, formerly known as Ivory - The Indian Kitchen, has not only had a change of name, it has also undergone a menu revamp. The smart casual dining restaurant now only serves North Indian dishes. One of its new offerings is Kashmir Nalli Gosht, which is lamb shank and cubes of boneless lamb cooked in a gravy flavoured with fennel. Another lamb dish that leans heavily on spices is Lamb Chops Bhuna Masala which has the chops roasted in a fragrant mix of Indian spices.

Shiraz Mazzeh @ Clarke Quay, the fine dining Persian restaurant, is the place to sample Iranian food. Its Salad Shirazi is an Arabian style salad of diced cucumbers, tomatoes and onions tossed in a mix of herbs, olive oil and lemon juice. Herbs are a prominent ingredient in Iranian cooking and serve to enhance the natural flavours of this crunchy salad.

Tandoori Lobster from Ras The Essence of India
Savour the unique Tandoori Lobster from Ras The Essence of India

Kaala Channa Seekh Kebab
Grilled to seal in the flavours, the Kaala Channa Seekh Kebab from Shahi Maharani is perfect for vegetarians because it uses black chickpeas

Tandoor Loving Care

Ras The Essence of India ups the tandoori ante with their Tandoori Lobster, a slab of fresh lobster marinated with their secret recipe and roasted in a tandoor oven. For vegetarians, they also offer Tandoori Vegetable - assorted vegetables given the same treatment.

Shahi Maharani at Raffles City Singapore promises authentic North Indian cuisine in an elegant setting. Their masterful use of the tandoor oven to cook salmon lets the spices infuse into the fish, leaving it deliciously moist. For a vegetarian option, try the Kaala Channa Seekh Kebab which is kebab made from black chickpeas.

Curries have a prominent place in North Asian cuisine and Shahi Maharani's selection is impressive. Worthy of mention is the Bengali Fish Curry which has fillets of kingfish cooked in an onion-based sauce with Bengali spices that includes a mix of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and oregano. Chicken Handi has boneless chicken pieces bathed in a sauce of yoghurt and dry spices.

For a buttery chicken curry, have a go at Go India Clarke Quay. Their Zafrani Murgh Awadhi has chicken cooked in a creamy cashew nut paste, topped with onions and capsicum for an added crunch. Another new dish is Rural Chicken Curry, a home-style curry dish inspired by Indian village cooking.

Shahi Maharani 2 curries
Shahi Maharani has a variety of curries to choose from

Persian Dough
Wash down your meal with Persian Dough, a chilled yoghurt drink, flavoured with mint and rose at Shiraz Mazzeh @ Clarke Quay

If thick chicken korma is what you crave, Ras The Essence of India's Chicken Nawabi Korma will surely satisfy your taste buds. Cooked in an almond paste tinged with masala, its mild and fragrant gravy makes you want to sop up every last drop. For the most tender of lambs, Lamb Vindaloo, a sour and spicy aromatic curry with potatoes, herbs, vinegar and spices is a must-try. The meat is cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

Just Desserts

Shiraz Mazzeh @ Clarke Quay gives sweet endings a whole new meaning with their Assorted Trio of Persian Delight: baklava, layers of filo pastry and chopped nuts and syrup; a chocolate-based cake; and sweet vermicelli ball which is pistachio cooked in sweetened milk with honey and saffron covered with roasted vermicelli. Finish it off with their traditional drink, Persian Dough, which is a robust mix of chilled yoghurt with herbs.

One thing Go India Clarke Quay did retain from their old menu is Kulfi or Indian ice-cream and thankfully so. Made with boiled milk, Kulfi is denser than ice-cream but just as delicious. Try the mango or pistachio or both.

Finally, if you don't want the typical Gulab Jamun or milk dumplings in a sugary syrup, have the Rabadi Naspati at Ras The Essence of India instead. They have taken fresh pears and poached it in a honey sauce then paired it with rabdi, a rich, sweet and milky sauce flavoured with chopped pistachios and saffron.

Indulgent, resplendent, sublime – North Asian cuisine is all these things and more. If you don't believe it, go ahead and give it a try.

Go India
3A River Valley Road
Clarke Quay #02-04
Singapore 179020
Tel: (65) 6333 4664

Ras The Essence of India
Block 3D River Valley Road, Clarke Quay #01-05A
Singapore 179023
Tel: (65) 6837 2800

Shiraz Mazzeh @ Clarke Quay
Blk 3D River Valley Road
#01-09 Clarke Quay
Singapore 179023.
Tel: (65) 6334 2282

Shahi Maharani
252, North Bridge Road, #03-21B Raffles City Shopping Centre
(Level 3, Fairmont Singapore)
Singapore 179103.
Tel: (65) 6235 8840

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