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Friday, April 17, 2015

Murugan Idli Shop - Farrer Park

When it comes to Indian food, I would consider myself a connoisseur.  I am willing to pay higher price for better quality genuine Indian food, and I will frequent only the best places.  Considering just South Indian vegetarian food, there are a few excellent places that come to mind - Komala Vilas, MTR and Sri Laksmi Hocuspocuslalalareallylongname being the ones I rate most highly.  But there is another one - Murugan Idli Shop.  I reviewed Murugan back in 2009.  But upon visiting again, I don't believe that review did them justice.  Murugan was first conceptualized 45 years ago (then under the name Murugan Coffee Nilayam) in Mandurai, India selling coffee and snacks.  Subsequently, 20 years later the owners son S. Manoharan took over the business (in 1991) and expanded.  They now have 15 outlets in Chennai alone.  Another three in Mandurai, one in Vellore and three in Singapore.  For this review, I feature their most famous Singapore outlet on Syed Alwi Road - Enjoy!


Murugan Idli Shop
Location: 81 Syed Alwi Road
Contact: 62980858
Opening Hours: Daily 9.00am - 11.00pm


The menu offers a simple yet eclectic mix of South Indian food.  For Buddhist vegetarians, take note that virtually everything on the menu contains onion/garlic.  The prices are higher than most, but what you pay for is quality.  If you're non-vegan then the ghee podi idli is a must try.
After placing your order, immediately your 'plate' is brought to you.  The experience of eating South Indian food on a banana leaf with your right hand is one of life's true pleasures.  The 'plate' is empty to begin with, then whatever you order is subsequently placed onto the banana leaf.  Each banana leaf has Murugan's famous four chutneys.  Consider this an outright threat, do not dare eat this food with fork and spoon, it is an insult to the food.  Your right hand should be your only utensil if you want to enjoy and understand this cuisine to its fullest.


It would be a bit strange to go to Murugan Idli Shop and not order an Idli right?  Idli is one of those Indian snacks that confuse me.  In a cuisine so full of flavour and colour, idli is the one rare exception.  It is virtually tasteless by itself, made from rice and black lentils, which is grounded, fermented and then steamed.  The simplicity of this snack also make it one of the rare healthy Indian foods.  Idli is best eaten by pinching off a piece and dipping it in each chutney, almost like a mad painter dunking his brush in the palette.  Indian food does not celebrate individual flavours, it is more of firework display, where you get a bit of everything in every bite.  The idli from Murugan is soft and delicate, and you can really feel the freshness.  Idli is not my favourite Indian food, but there is no question that Murugan produce the best idli I have ever tried.

Price: $1.75/pc.     8/10
The main item that keeps me coming back to Murugan is actually their Masala Dosai.  I've eaten a lot of dosai in my time, ranging from the hopeless and horrible to the exceptional.  Murugan's masala dosai is the best I have ever eaten.  There are two key components which make this one of the greatest dishes I've eaten.  Firstly, the dosai batter and texture - A great dosai should have strong notes of sourness and saltiness.  The sourness coming from the fermentation of the batter.  Moreover, this dosai is the perfect texture, it is crispy, yet not too brittle, still having that glorious chewy texture.  Secondly, the potato masala almost caused me to faint when consumed.  The texture is creamy and thick, almost like mashed potato, and packed with flavour.  This work of art, when combined with the four chutneys is the closest one can come to food nirvana.

Price: $4.70.     10/10



Here is a closer look at the colour and texture of the potato masala in the dosai - Just incredible.  I ate three in one sitting last time I visited.

If you're looking for something a little more simple, you can opt for the Plain Dosai (although I would strongly recommend going for the masala version instead).  As I previously mentioned, the texture of this dosai is perfect and I love the enhanced amount of sourness from the fermentation of the batter.

Price: $3.60.     8/10














Conclusion - Since my first review of Murugan almost six years ago, I must say that I was wrong about this place.  Over the years, my ability to appreciate their offerings has grown, to the present point, where I would dare say they are one of the best vegetarian eateries in Singapore.  Eateries like Murugan make me so thankful I live in Singapore and can experience all the multitude of different cuisines this country has to offer.  If you have not visited Murugan, you owe it to yourself to experience it.

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

8 comments:

  1. Murugan Idly's chutneys are completely on the money. I literally just go here to eat to enjoy the never ending refills of that with dosas.

    On a side note- I went back to my favourite vegan dosa card in New York and thought about you- where the dosas are on par with (and even better) than any you'll find in chennai (and Singapore).

    Come visit soon!

    ~DeviousDiv

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    1. oops I meant to say dosa cart.

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  2. Hi Luke! I chuckled as I read about your near-fainting experience... you have persuaded me to try out this magical masala thosai!

    Do try out Madras Woodlands Ganga which has reopened at Cuff Road. They appear to have improved quite a bit from when they were at Belilios Lane.

    -Nav

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  3. I went to Chennai and ate at Murugan's! It was nice.

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  4. Hello Luke,

    I've been by your blog a few times looking for vegetarian options in not so familiar parts of Sgp. Have always found good suggestions .. thanks a ton!

    I've never left a comment earlier but when I read your description of Murugan Idli's masala dosai I just had to stop & say .. you have great taste !! :-) Folks I know usually rave abt MTRs version but I'm biased towards Murugan Idli's & I'd rate it 10 just as you did :-) The potato masala tastes almost exactly like my grandma used to make it .. so I feel like you just gave my grandma's masala dosai a big thumbs up .. haha!

    Happy exploring & thanks again for the reviews !

    Priya.

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    1. Hey Priya,

      Thanks so much for that encouraging comment!

      I agree with you, for South Indian food I always go for Murugan or Sri Lakshmi, but I would probably say Murugan is my favourite of them all.

      Wow, did you learn the recipe for your grandmas potato masala? I would love to try it, haha.

      Luke

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  5. Hi Luke,

    Being a true south Indian, I am not great fan of murugan idli as it is too pasty for my taste:)

    Did you try MTR as yet? Sorry if you already did, I must have missed out..

    We are regulars at MTR, well worth the money for sure.

    Also do try Mumbai Magic at little India. Its a newbie and you may like it..

    As always great job!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Hey anonymous,

      Thanks for the comment! Yes I have been to MTR a number of times, I agree with you, it is one of my favourites!

      Is Mumbai Magic 100% veg? If so, I will be sure to go and review it soon!

      Thanks!
      Luke

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