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Monday, August 27, 2012

Namastaey India - Farrer Park

Syed Alwi Road has recently greeted another 100% vegetarian establishment to its famed area, in the form of Namastaey.   Those who have been following my blog will know that I recently made the transformation to a vegan lifestyle.  Eating at Indian eateries can be difficult as a vegan, however, after discussing with the waiter, he was more than willing to convert the dishes into being dairy free.  Enough talk, lets see what Namastaey has to offer...

Namastaey India
Location: 80 Syed Alwi Road

Contact: 63922449
Opening Hours: Unknown

The menu offers the typical Indian delights, more North Indian based though.  What was more surprising was some of the prices.  For example, plain basmati rice being priced at $4.20 seems unusually high (hence I didn't order any rice in this review).  What seemed a little more pleasing was the bhatura, which cost only $2.60 - However, after ordering it, it simply never arrived, this was after asking for it on a separate occasion also.  Pretty unacceptable service, even more so as the restaurant was virtually empty.  Waiting time for all dishes was very high.

Considering how overpriced rice was, I decided to order bread only, to accompany the curries.  Starting off with the Tawa Roti, this flat bread was charred nicely (as you can see my the beautiful black markings on the bread).  Also the bread was served fresh from the tava, as indicated by the puffiness of the bread.  A simple, yet tasty bread.

Price: $1.80.     8/10
Plain Naan is probably one of the most widely known Indian foods on the planet, yet very few people actually know how a great naan should be.  Chewy, yet not too tough.  Flaky, yet not too brittle.  Soft, yet not too doughy.  Charred, yet not burnt - It is safe to say, getting a naan perfect is quite a uphill task.  Namastaey does have a pretty credible rendition, however.  The naan was charred expertly, and had a delectable chewy yet light quality, which made it incredibly addictive. 

Price: $2.20.     7/10

As a starter, I went for the Aloo Chaat.  Due to this being made vegan, yogurt and mint chutney was excluded from this dish.  Therefore, if vegetarians order this dish, prepare for it to look quite different from this picture.  The potatoes in this dish were fried perfectly, but the dish is a little on the dry side, without the chutney and yogurt. The fresh tomatoes do add a bit of much needed moisture, and I would have liked to have seen more of them in the dish.

Price: $4.20.     7/10

This Bhendi Masala suffers from a few problems.  Unfortunately, the bhendi (ladyfingers) that are found in Singapore is of very poor quality - Consequently, the ladyfingers are sometimes old and tough in texture, as was the case in this dish.  Therefore, on a couple of occasions I had to spit the ladyfingers out, as the skin was too tough.  Let me just emphasize, this is not because the ladyfingers were not cooked sufficiently.  It is due to the ladyfingers itself being too old.  The spices were solid and flavourful, but too much whole garam masala inside, as I will explain about more in the next dish.

Price: $8.50.     4/10

A fiercely debated topic amongst Indian cooks is whether to use whole garam masala (whole pieces of cloves, cardamom etc) inside curries, or to simply use powder.  For myself, whole spices inside the curry is fine, as long as there is not too many.  For this Maithi Mutter Masala, there was simply way too many.  To the extent that every single spoonful I was having to dissect the whole spices out of it.  It is not a pleasant experience for the consumer.  The texture of the sauce is silky and rich, but the flavour of maithi leaves is lost in the dish.  It would have been a decent enough dish, if not for the constant annoyance of having to pick out the spices.

Price: $8.00.     5/10

Conclusion - There is certainly potential at Namastaey, but unfortunately it is currently not living up to it.  I was very encouraged by the willingness of the staff to make the dishes vegan for me - This is really impresssive, especially for an Indian restaurant.  But the slow service and forgetting my bhatura soured my experience somewhat.  As I mentioned, forgetting orders in a packed restaurant is understandable - But forgetting orders when only two tables are occupied is unpardonably clumsy.  Regrettably, Namastaey represents one of the more forgettable vegetarian restaurants on the Syed Alwi stretch - But as this is a new restaurant, it may grow into something more special in the future.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 7/10
Service - 4/10
Value - 6/10

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Indian Cuisine - Fodni Mirchi

I'm back with another quick Indian cooking installment.  This Fodni Mirchi can be simply translated as tempered green chillies.  Green chillies vary in level of spice and aroma.  For this preparation try to get those which are less spicy.  I actually slit these chillies vertically and removed the seeds and stem with a spoon - As this is where most of the spice originates from.  If you can take a lot of heat, then feel free to leave them in (but still slit them nevertheless, so the masala can go inside when cooking).


Ingredients
Mustard Seeds (2 tsp)
Oil (4 Tsp)
Salt (pinch)
Black Salt (kala namak) (pinch)
Green Chillies (6 - Or however many you wish to make)
Turmeric (2 tsp)
Hing (1 tsp)
Lemon Juice (half a lemon)

Instructions
1.  Add oil into pan or wok, once oil is hot, add mustard seeds.
2.  Once mustards seeds start to crackle, add turmeric and hing.
3.  Continuously stir in order to avoid burning these spices, then add salt and black salt.
4.  Shortly after, add all the green chillies and cook until the skin of chillies becomes soft.
5.  Sprinkle the lemon juice in the pan, and toss one final time.
6  Serve.

This fodni mirchi originates from Maharashtra, and acts as a delightful accompaniment to curry, rice, chapatti, bhakri.

Bhojan ka anand!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Indian Cuisine - Gongura Curry

For this post, I am bringing you a dish involving an ingredient that is immensely popular in the Andhra Pradesh state of India.  Gongura, is also known as roselle leaves or sorrel leaves - It is a sour green, which is packed with nutrition.  I have made this into a dry curry, but by adding more water you can increase the amount of sauce.  A cautionary note on the gongura, when cooking, it will shrink dramatically - Therefore use a high quantity as stated in the ingredients below.  You can find this plant occasionally in Mustafa, or any of the side street grocers in Little India.

Ingredients
Mustard Seeds (1 Tsp)
Onion (1 large)
Green Chili (3)
Gongura (1 large bundle)
Turmeric (pinch)
Cumin Powder (1 Tsp)
Coriander Powder (1.5 Tsp)
Pepper Powder (pinch)
Ginger Garlic Paste (1 Tsp)
Mock chicken meat (you can also use paneer, potato or any ingredient)
Instructions
1.  Slice green chilies, add oil, and cook in a pan.  After which, add the gongura leaves and cook until completely shrunk and starchy/sticky texture is gone.
2.  Once cooked, add the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.
3.  In a fresh pan, add oil and mustard seeds (wait until the seeds pop), then add diced onion.  Shortly after, add salt, turmeric and ginger garlic paste.
4.  Wait until onions are well cooked.  Then add cumin powder, coriander powder and pepper powder.  After cooking these spices for a minute - Add water (amount depending on how much sauce you want).
5.  Then add in your blended gongura mixture into the pan and mix together.
6.  Finally add the mock chicken and mix.

This dish is fast becoming one of my most beloved Indian concoctions.  I urge everyone to give it a go!

Bhojan ka anand!
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