Think tika masalas, tandooris, rich vegetarian curries and to die for garlic naans – this is just some of what the Expat Living team had to endure when reviewing these top Indian restaurants in Singapore. It was tough but they survived to tell their tales.
The mood: High ceilings and touches of gold give the dining room here a grand elegance that perfectly matches the refined menu of contemporary takes on Indian classics. If you haven’t been to this gem, go for your next special occasion!
The food: The menu is massive, and a little overwhelming for those unfamiliar with the whole gamut of Indian ingredients and dishes. So, if you want to try a bit of everything, I’d suggest ordering the four-course degustation menu ($128 per person; vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions available), which includes an amuse bouche, soup, starter, main course, and a selection of desserts and tea. This menu is great value, with large portions (bring your appetite!) and the chance to try some items you may not have thought to order in the first place.
I’m always quick to order chicken tikka masala when eating Indian, as it’s one of my favourite foods ever; but, the chargrilled Kasuri chicken with egg foam and kokam curry – the degustation menu’s main dish – was a delicious alternative to my usual go-to. I just couldn’t stop dipping my naan into the rich, tomato and coconut chicken curry, which was accompanied by sides of addicting crispy okra and dal ma dumpukh (black lentils slow-cooked for 48 hours).
While I’m not one to order a soup to start, I absolutely relished the roasted tomato saar soup made with curry leaves, coconut and chillies, and topped with herbal mulethi (liquorice) foam. Yum!
Save a little room for the lychee kulfi frostie and the super sweet and swirl-shaped kesari jalebi, which is like a funnel cake flavoured with rose syrup!
The must: We went nuts for the perfectly flavoured, pan-seared black cod, which is served side-by-side with the delicious (and large!) tandoori lamb chop as part of the non-vegetarian degustation menu; you can also order the cod à la carte ($60).
– Amy Greenburg
The mood: This trendy spot in Robertson Quay celebrates the spirit of Mumbai, a modern metropolis known for its infectious Bollywood jingles.
The venue is fittingly hip and lively, with vibrant textiles, scripture and colourful illustrations adorning the walls. Dining here is mostly alfresco, and you can enjoy the ambience of hanging lights and a steady breeze as the neighbourhood strolls past. Evenings are best kicked off with a Mumbai-inspired cocktail – we recommend the Chaijito ($16) made with Old Monk rum and sweet black tea infused with mint and lime; or the Bombay Sapphire gin-based Tulsi Martini ($14), finished off with green apple, fresh basil and ginger.
The food: The menu is gloriously diverse, with a mix of family recipes, Anglo-Indian favourites and playful takes on nostalgic classics. Start with colourful ragda patties ($14), a staple of potato patties topped with spicy chickpeas and a mélange of chutneys and shallots. Or, try the Bombay Frankie ($15): folded crispy chapatis stuffed with 12-hour marinated cottage cheese, bell peppers and spices in a tangy tomato sauce, and served with mint and green mango chutney. It’s a dish you’ll be reluctant to share!
You can easily overdo it on the flavours here, as the curries are rich and the spices plentiful. If you’ve had starters, then a curry and a choice of tandoori bites for two is ample with the usual rice and roti or naan to mop up the sauce. Standout dishes include the Hyderabadi baingan ($20), a nutty eggplant and coconut curry, the generations-old Dabbawalla butter chicken ($22), and the smoky and tender tandoori lamb chops ($29). And, if you play your cards right, you’ll have just enough space for a Baileys kulfi ($12) – a sensational sweet finish.
The must: Bombay Frankie – Leanda Rathmell
The Curry Culture
The mood: This popular eatery sits smack dab in the middle of lively Cuppage Road, which means the place not only serves tasty food, but is fun to visit too. Another plus? The staff are among the most gracious in town. After our meal, my husband said, “That’s the best outdoor eating experience we’ve had in Singapore.”
The food: Curry Culture has all the crowd favourites: butter chicken, korma, vindaloo and fabulous, finger-licking chicken tikka. But this is one restaurant where you should venture out and let your taste buds explore. Start with the papdi chaat ($10), a spicy, sweet, tangy, single-bite sensation, or the Samarkandi prawns ($27), a recipe so secret that it’s only passed down by word of mouth. For your main, try the Goan fish curry ($21), a spicy dish cooked in a mouthwatering tamarind sauce. And use your garlic naan ($6) to sop up every last bit of saag gosht ($25), a lamb and spinach curry with a green chilli kick. Slurp!
The must: Even though you’ll likely be so stuffed you can’t move, push onward and order the dessert platter ($14), complete with three of the most outstanding Indian desserts I’ve had: kesari phirnee (rice pudding), gulab juman (a sugary milk-based ball) and ras mali (a light and spongy Bengali dessert). Eat them all… and then waddle home.
– Melinda Murphy
The mood: Mention North Indian food in Singapore, and chances are Shahi Maharani will quickly come up in the conversation. No surprises there, considering the restaurant’s longevity – it’s been open for well over 20 years. Today, it offers a private and exclusive setting in a central location. The spacious dining area is dressed in regal wood décor that’s reminiscent of the royal palaces of India, making it ideal for unique celebrations and gatherings.
The food: Ease in with a familiar favourite, the chicken makhanwala ($34). Popularised as butter chicken, this North Indian classic features tender chicken chunks swimming in a rich and creamy tomato gravy. This non-spicy, kid-friendly crowd pleaser makes for the perfect introductory dish to those who are new to the cuisine. There’s also a fab selection of breads to choose from, but we highly recommend the garlic naan ($8) and fluffy roomali roti ($7). Make sure you douse your carb of choice with a generous helping of gravy for a truly satisfying mouthful!
Another signature is the tandoori milawat ($45): a mixed platter of chicken tikka, fish, lamb and giant garlic prawns. Soak up all the flavours from the grill with a side of saffron rice ($11).
The must: I’ve dined at Shahi Maharani on multiple occasions, and with each return, I find a new favourite. The highlight of my meal this time was the Subzi Sizzler ($34), a meat-free, sizzling platter that consists of veggie kebabs coated in a chunky sauce made of secret spices. We wiped out every last bit with the remains of our naan! It wasn’t a pretty sight to behold, but definitely worth the mess. – Anthia Chng
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