Think delicious tikka 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!
With its long-standing history of 23 years, this family-run spot is among the most prominent Indian restaurants in Singapore. Dressed in traditional wood-focused décor, it’s a grand setup that almost makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the regal palaces of India.
As I arrived, my expectations were high – every dining experience I’ve had at Shahi Maharani has trumped the previous one! And this visit didn’t disappoint. Fans of tandoori dishes will love the savoury selection of vegetarian and meaty options cooked in a traditional clay tandoor. The Tandoori Milawat ($45.00) includes a fab assortment of meats; sink your teeth into tender chicken tikka, flaky barramundi tikka, juicy lamb kebabs and charred garlic prawns, served on a sizzling platter for good measure. Another starter we loved was the Bhindi ($16): okra fritters deep-fried to perfection in an addictive batter – delightfully crisp and light, with the right amount of bite. With the accompanying yoghurt dip, we scoffed down the lot before the main spread arrived.
I can’t imagine anyone trying the prawn korma ($36) and not loving it. A rich blend of cashews, cottage cheese, spices and succulent prawns, this creamy concoction is best enjoyed with a generous mound of fragrant saffron rice ($11) and a garlic naan ($8) – my go-to carbs of choice at the restaurant. The palak paneer ($28) – thick chunks of cottage cheese in a rich spinach sauce – was another favourite.
Despite being stuffed by now, we knew we had to have a taste of the kulfi before leaving. The kulfi sampler platter ($17) gets you a mix of flavours for variety. Standouts for us were the pistachio and saffron, which were super fragrant and not too sweet. The perfect end to an amazing feast!
For Diwali, Shahi Maharani is offering freshly made goodies packed in elegant boxes and jars. Perfect for gifting, the treats are only mildly sweet, making them healthier than traditional mithai. One highlight is the coconut almond ladoo, a gluten- and dairy-free morsel made without refined sugar. The boxes will also include the restaurant’s regular favourites, like the Mango Surprise (mango and white chocolate) and stuffed cashew roll with pistachio filling. Pickup from 2 to 14 November.
– Anthia Chng
Occupying a grand and luxurious space at Tanglin Mall, Yantra’s interior oozes finesse, with tasteful décor and polished and polite service. If you’re here for date night, I recommend arriving at least half an hour early to enjoy an alfresco tipple at swanky adjoining bar, Metta – the cocktail menu is one of the best I’ve seen in Singapore!
The food menu, meanwhile, covers a vast variety of dishes from Rajasthan to West Bengal, with both classics and ingenious twists concocted by Chef Pinaki Ray. We followed his lead and opted to sample both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian set menus ($68), while he charismatically told us the tale and history behind each dish.
Our meals began with an homage to Indian street food (chaat) in the form of an amuse bouche of Dahi Puri and Papdi Chaat – single-bite sensations of sweet and tangy chutney with a wafer-thin crunch.
From there, each dish outshone the last – from the lingering smoky aftertaste of the Macher Paturi (seabass with mustard and coconut marinade cooked in banana leaves) to the sinful Dahl Makhani, simmered overnight in the tandoor, and theRajasthani Lal Maans, a fiery lamb curry made with the rich Mathania chillies that can only be found in India’s arid state of Rajasthan.
We finished with a delicately plated trio of classic Indian desserts; all were divine, particularly the Gajar Halwa, a creamy carrot, cardamom and cinnamon pudding that had me vowing to return to India as soon as the travel gods allow!
– Leanda Rathmell
This is Indian food as you’ve not tasted before: aromatic yet delicate, with the sentiment of “less is more”. Both in its cooking style and portions, you’ll first think it’s not enough, and then you’ll feel wonderfully full! The curries, tandooris, sauces and side dishes are slow-cooked with natural herbs; other cooking techniques include steam technology and air frying with mustard oil. Not much onion, garlic and tomatoes are used. And the flavours? Subtle but delicious.
One of my favourite dishes here is the Kolkata Roll ($10.90), a crispy, flaky bread rolled with paneer tikka, spices and a variety of veggies including onions and capsicums. Also amazing is the vegetarian biryani ($19.90); it’s not only free from colouring and additives, but the cooking style allows the flavours to seep slowly into the biryani, which is made with raw jackfruit for a meat-like texture.
While I’m mainly vegetarian, I’ve eaten here with non-vegetarians and they raved about the tender Kosha Mangsho (mutton pot roast; $22.90). Another great dish is Macher Paturi ($21.90), sea bass fillet marinated with French mustard, green chilli and parsley. It’s steamed and coalroasted in banana leaf – really good!
For dessert, try the Nalen Gurer Sondesh ($9.90), made of freshly curdled cottage cheese roasted with dates and baked with a smoked flavour – not sweet but very moreish.
– Rebecca Bisset
Multi award-winning restaurant MTR Singapore has its roots in Bangalore, India, where it opened in 1924. The Singapore outpost has a simple goal: to serve fresh and authentic South Indian vegetarian food of the same taste and quality as the flagship restaurant in Bangalore. The kitchen uses fine ingredients sourced from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Mallavi in Sri Lanka. There are no artificial enhancers, MSG, preservatives or additives used here; and the traditional desserts feature natural sugars only.
On the menu you’ll find popular Indian snacks alongside a small selection of traditional sweets and drinks. If you love spice, start with a serving of Pudi Idly ($5), flavoured with spicy chutney, ghee, spices and coriander. An idly is a savoury snack of steamed rice cakes made with a batter of fermented black lentils and rice. A popular breakfast food, the bite-sized morsels served here were super tasty and great for sharing as an appetiser.
Another must-try is the Uddin Vada ($2.50), a savoury South Indian doughnut or fritter, also made from lentils. Served with sambar and chutney, the fritter was surprisingly light, despite being deep-fried. It’s the perfect snack for any time of the day. I think it would be a hit with kids, too!
A unanimous favourite at our table was the Pudi Masala Dosa ($7), a generously sized, fluffy pancake with spicy chutney powder, lightly smeared with ghee and a potato-onion filling. This restaurant signature can be spotted at nearly every table when you dine here. The combination of the lightly fermented batter, fragrant spices and flavourful chutneys was simply sublime. Ours was gone within minutes, and we swore to return to the restaurant in future if only for another bite of it. Based on past experiences dining at Indian restaurants, I was expecting to feel uncomfortably full and bloated at the end of the meal, but this wasn’t the case here. I loved that we were happily satiated but not stuffed to the point of discomfort. Although everything on the menu was vegetarian, I didn’t find myself craving meat dishes, either. Whoever says vegetarian food is always bland has to try this spot!
– Anthia Chng
This article first appeared in the November 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!