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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Indian Cuisine - Paneer Butter Masala

It has been a while since I shared my Indian cooking adventures with you all. Therefore, to repent for the long gap, I decided to share one of my most fondest Indian dishes with you all. I was also partially inspired to renew my recipes, due to the fantastic work on the Hot from my oven site - I urge you all to pay a visit to that webiste, if you haven't already.

The dish today will be Paneer Butter Masala. This is probably one of the most easily recognizable dishes in the world of North Indian cuisine, and a popular favourite among non-Indians and Indians alike. Due to the sinful amount of cream and butter used, I seldom make this at home. Please note my recipe has a reduction of cream and butter, typically there will be much higher amounts used.

Paneer (500g)
Cream (200ml)
Butter (40g)
Fresh Coriander (handful)
Tomatoes (7 medium sized)
Onion (1 large)
Green Chili (2-3 pieces)
Cumin Seeds (1.5 tablespoons)
Coriander Powder (2.5 tablespoons)
Cumin Powder (1.5 tablespoons)
Hing (pinch)
Turmeric (0.75 tablespoons)
Red Chili Powder (1 tablespoon)
Fenugreek Leaves (handful)
Garam Masala (2 tablespoons)
Salt (to taste)

The base of the dish follows any typical curry recipe. First add oil and cumin seeds to pot. Then add the onions, green chili and tomatoes in a pot until cooked (onions and green chili first). Add turmeric, hing and salt when cooking the onions. Once cooked, transfer to a blender and blend until a smooth soupy consistency is formed. Transfer back into the pot and cook for longer. Add spices (coriander powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, garam masala). For paneer butter masala you can be more reckless with the amount of spices used, as the cream and butter will subdue the potency of the spices later on.

Allow the spices to penetrate into the curry for round 20-30 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Generally, the longer you leave a curry to cook, the better it will taste. Once the time has elapsed, add fenugreek leaves along with the butter and cream. Once the aforementioned ingredients have dissolved inside - Taste - Adjust salt and spice levels to individual preference. After cooking for 5-8 minutes more, add the paneer to the pot. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Upon serving, sprinkle fresh coriander leaves and another few dollops of cream.

Bhojan ka anand!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ru Lai Vegetarian Food - Ang Mo Kio

This Ang Mo Kio eatery should not be confused with the Ru Lai at Upper Thomson Road. Nor should it be confused with another Ru Lai vegetarian that is located in the same hawker centre. Confused? I am too, and this is the problem with Chinese vegetarian stalls all naming themselves in similar fashion. This vegetarian stall is located in the opposite hawker centre to where the infamous Silver Stream used to be, such a pity that it is no longer there. Nevertheless, perhaps this stall may give vegetarian food lovers a new reason to visit this area again, let's find out...

Ru Lai Vegetarian Food
Block 226D, Ang Mo Kio Street 22
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Daily until 10pm

I was bereft of inspiration on which dishes I should order, so I simply went with the Economical Rice. I selected three dishes - Firstly, there was the crinkle cut fries (which were oddly quite popular amongst customers at Ru Lai). Secondly, was a huge slab of rectangular tofu. Lastly, was one of their mock meats. The fries were a little stale, and lost the crisp and crunch that I freshly cooked fry should have. The tofu texture was fine, but lacking in flavour. The mock meat was a very generic kind, that one can find in almost every Chinese vegetarian stall in Singapore. Overall the rice with dishes from Ru Lai is good as a quick fix lunch or dinner solution. But not something to savour.

Price: $3.50. 5/10

I noticed other customers ordering this Buttered Frogs Legs. But upon gazing at their menu, I couldn't see anything that resembled it. After some inquiring, I discovered this dish was available, but it simply wasn't advertised on the menu (this may be the case for several other dishes too). This tactic doesn't really make sense in a business perspective. Quality wise, this is one of those dishes that I can happily enjoy one piece, I particularly enjoyed the fresh crunchy texture. But after that, it just becomes too greasy for me, and subsequently I felt quite queasy. The dish could have also benefited from more sauce, too. Price wise, it is highly priced, considering this is only a hawker centre stall.

Price: $8.00. 6/10

Conclusion - Now that Silver Stream has gone, I don't foresee this is an area that I will be returning to with any amount of frequency. Block 226D does host a number of vegetarian stalls, which is pleasing to see. But whether any of them have anything outstanding to eat, is another question.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 5/10

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Moghul Sweet Shop - Little India

The world of Indian sweets is certainly not recommended for those that don't have a very sweet tooth. A dangerous amount of sugar is used in almost every Indian dessert. Moghul Sweet Shop is a small shop located in Little India, which specializes only in Indian desserts. Although, they do sell samosas and other savory snacks, too. Personally, I love Indian desserts, but I limit my intake for health reasons. However, after browsing the different types of delicious sweets at Moghul, I found the temptation too hard to resist. So without further delay, lets explore the world of Indian sweets...

Moghul Sweet Shop
48 Serangoon Road
Contact: 63925797
Opening Hours: Mon -Sun 11:00-23:00

Indian sweets can come in many shapes and forms, and are especially popular around the Deepavali period. The most notorious of all Indian desserts would likely be Gulab Jamun. This fried dough ball is soaked in an extremely sweet sugar syrup. It is a personal favourite of mine, though I always limit myself to just one. The gulab jamun from here was tasty, but the dough ball was a little tough in texture for my liking. Instead, the gulab jamun should literally melt in your mouth. Nevertheless, it was a sinfully sweet delight.

Price: $1.00 (per piece). 6/10

The next dessert on my agenda was Rasmalai. This Eastern Indian dessert (also known as rasgulla) can be slightly hard to find in Singapore, so I usually jump at the chance of eating, when the opportunity arises. Rasmalai has two main components - A disc shaped 'sponge' and a creamy cardamom infused sauce. This 'sponge' is actually a version of paneer (cheese), but doesn't have the texture nor the taste of conventional paneer. The aforementioned texture might not be to everyones liking, especially non-Indian palates. It is worth experiencing nonetheless, though.

Price: $1.50 (per piece). 7/10

Conclusion - Although I have yet to visit India, I get a true sensation that visiting places like Moghul gives me an authentic glimpse into what the ambiance of an Indian side street is like. Indian culture is often shunned in Singapore, but personally, I wouldn't want to be without it - It is a colourful, vibrant and exciting culture, which breaks away from the monotony of typical Singaporean conventional living. I would urge everyone to test out the desserts at Moghul, but limit yourself to just a few, as the sugar content is intense.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 6/10

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blk 443 Vegetarian - Pasir Ris

A sincere thank you to Suhendra, for suggesting I visit this 24 hour stall in the Pasir Ris area. Indeed, 24 hour vegetarian eateries are hard to come by in Singapore, so I was quite excited to test this place out. I am assuming the primary reason for it being 24 hours, is due to this food court being geographically quite close to the Pasir Ris chalets. This food court does technically have air conditioning, however it is completely ineffective, due to there being no walls or door to trap the cold air. For a simple stall, there is quite a large variety of dishes to choose from, and from what I gathered, all seemed available to order.

Blk 443 Vegetarian
Location: Block 443, Pasir Ris Drive 6
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Daily 24 hours.

It is very rare in Singapore that I come across a dish that is truly rancid. Unfortunately on this particular evening, I stumbled into one of those really terrible dishes. This is the Mee Hoon Kway, as I am writing this, I am struggling to think of anything remotely positive to say. So let us move onto the negative - This dish had the worst kway noodles I have ever seen, one of these monstrosities is present on my spoon in the picture - It is thick rubbery. The soup tasted like it came from a chemical factory, it had an extremely unpleasant soapy flavour. I could go on and on, but in summary - DON'T ORDER THIS DISH.

Price: $3.00. 1/10

The next dish, which is Black Kway Teow, represented a slightly more positive dish from this stall. Although this is by no means a perfect rendition of char kway teow - It nevertheless does have acceptable flavour. The kway noodles are not an abomination like the previous dish, and the other ingredients in the dish are acceptable. As with any kway teow or hor fun dish, the essential flavour is the wok hei (smokey flavour). Although remnants of wok hei could be found in this dish, it needed to be much more potent.

Price: $3.50. 6/10

Next up was Lor Mee. It is safe to say lor mee is not a dish that is common with non-Chinese palates. I myself though, certainly can appreciate the flavour of lor mee. However, this rendition of lor mee didn't quite hit the mark for me. I found it severely lacking in fresh ingredients. Instead, there was an influx of fried dough ingredients, which is not what I look for in a dish. Additionally, there was no vinegar inside, which is a key component of a good lor mee. Another dish that I wouldn't consider ordering again.

Price: $3.00. 3/10

Conclusion - The conclusion for this place need not be long. I am sure everyone who has made it this far with be quite clear that the food quality at this stall is poor. I certainly wouldn't recommending visiting this place, unless desperate. The kway teow was passable, but the other two dishes were terrible.

Overall Rating
Food - 4/10
Ambiance- 5/10
Service - 5/10
Value - 4/10
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