Indian food is seriously diverse; you may already know that South and North Indian foods are two entirely different cuisines. Still, to split their differences even further, each cuisine has other ethnic foods, different dishes, so on and so forth. Also, it doesn’t help that Singaporean Indian food can differ from that in India itself.
So to rank these places according to how good they are is like trying to compare chicken and duck rice; it’s simply not a fair fight. Instead, here’s a list of 13 Indian food places in Singapore to add spice to your life!
1. Bhai Da Dhaba (Riverwalk Tandoor)
I’m starting this list simple, with the most authentic North Indian food, and where better to get it than at Bhai Da Dhaba— loosely translated to ‘brother’s roadside diner’. The Sarson Ka Saag Set Meal (S$14.90), is a staple in every Punjabi person’s household. No, not the overhyped butter chicken. Imagine a shatteringly soft and unleavened flatbread made out of cornmeal, paired with a bowl of blended mustard greens with spices. Tear out a piece of roti, top it up with a scoop of blended greens, and enjoy the warmth this dish provides you with. When done perfectly, the greens aren’t bitter. Each bite guaranteed a tsunami of flavours onto my palate, and it tasted eerily similar to what my late grandmother used to whip up.
What’s North Indian cuisine without Tandoori Chicken (S$12 for half, S$20 for full) and Punjabi Samosa (S$4.50). The experience only gets better when you tear a piece of moist chicken or crispy potato-filled, triangular pastry, and dip it in mint chutney. I do have to say, they serve one of the best mint chutneys over here.
If you’d like to have a go at other mains, do try the Mutton Dum Briyani (S$10), Butter Chicken (S$10), Aloo Gobi (S$7.50), and much more.
The interior of Bhai Da Dhaba is also decked with Punjab-related murals and furniture, including a manja (traditional woven bed). Personally, Bhai Da Dabba is an elevated version of a roadside diner that can be found along the streets of India.
The experience only gets better when you wash down your hearty meal with a hot cuppa chai or cold stainless steel mug of lassi (buttermilk). Dining at Bhai Da Dhaba is truly an immersive experience.
677 Rangoon Road, Singapore 210677
Tue to Fri: 11.30am – 3pm & 6pm – 10.30pm
Sat & Sun: 11.30am – 10.30pm
Closed on Mon
Anyone can easily tell you to make your way down to Little India for good Indian food but where to go is the question. Today, allow me to be your sherpa and guide you to Amber Tandoor Restaurant, a quaint gem that serves exceptional Nepalese and North Indian cuisine.
Let’s be honest, good Nepalese food is hard to come by in Singapore due to its elusiveness. However, I’m here to do the hard work of sourcing out these hidden gems and introducing them to you.
Enter Chicken Momo (S$9.90 for six). Akin to the Japanese gyoza and Chinese bao, momos are small envelopes of white flour stuffed with vegetables or marinated minced meat. Over at Amber Tandoor Restaurant, like many other places, you have the option of having your momos steamed or fried.
The momos here are homemade, which explains their inconsistent shapes but they sure are generously filled. It also comes with a side of Nepalese chutney for you to dip your little dumplings of joy into. Words can’t express how fantastic these fried Nepalese dumplings from heaven taste until you’ve tried them for yourself.
Another Nepali delight is the Sekuwa (S$13). The sekuwa is essentially meat that’s traditionally roasted in a natural wood fire— Nepalese country-style. Like tandoori chicken, the meat is marinated with natural herbs and spices along with other ingredients while it’s still raw before being skewered and grilled. Have a piece of chicken with a slice of onion, you’ll be greeted with an explosion of zestiness that meets traditional Indian flavours paired with a delicious smoky aftertaste.
3. Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant
I’ve talked about Punjabi food and Nepalese food, now let’s venture to South Indian food. Since 1994, Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf Restaurant has been iconic for their Fish Head Curry. What started out as a simple family cooking tradition became a family business in 1994 serving up plates of classic South Indian spread on a traditional banana leaf.
Karu’s Fish Head Deluxe (S$26 for small, S$35 for medium, S$38 for large) is cooked in a South Indian style and is arguably the best on this island. Mixed with juicy okra and cherry tomatoes, the Fish Head Deluxe is best enjoyed with Biryani Rice (S$3.50) or Plain Dosai (S$2.90) with Fish Cutlet (S$1.70), and a basket of Appalam (S$2.70) to ease the intense spice kick.
If fish is not exactly your pick of protein, why not opt for their Curry Mutton Biryani (S$12.50)? This one-of-a-kind dish features a blend of fresh ground spices and the long-grained basmati rice cooked with fresh goat to perfection. A must-try for all meat lovers out there.
808/810 Upper Bukit Timah Road Singapore, Singapore 678144
+65 6762 7284
Tue to Sun: 10.30am – 10pm
Closed on Mon
An award-winning restaurant offering authentic South Indian cuisine, MTR Singapore is an eatery that serves up a legacy of great vegetarian dishes at affordable prices.
Before tucking into their repertoire of authentic vegetarian mains, savour on the unique Rava Idly (S$4), a steamed semolina cake mixed with yoghurt, coriander, cashew nuts, curry leaves, mustard seeds, and clarified butter. Accompanying it is a silky coconut-based potato saagu that reveals a spongey, nutty pancake-esque mouthfeel when paired together with the semolina cake.
Elsewhere, there is also the Pudi Masala Dosa (S$7), a large fluffy pancake peppered with spicy chutney powder, smeared with ghee and topped with a small scoop of potato-onion filling. One bite into this beauty and your palate will be instantly hit with a smoky pepperiness, this might be a spicy dish, but trust me, the flavour grows on you with each and every bite you take.
We’re almost halfway through this list, and we’ve covered some authentic Indian dishes from India. Now I’d like to talk a little bit about Singaporean Indian eateries that take authentic Indian flavours and add a contemporary local twist to them.
Flying Monkey, for instance, creates fun alcoholic beverages using Indian ingredients and props like clay pots.
Specially curated cocktails like The Japanese Wife (S$18) and Mumbai 2 Milan (S$20) aside, Flying Monkey also serves some delicious tapas including the Galouti Kebab (S$16), the bar’s best-selling small plate dish prepared with a lamb patty that truly lives up to its name as ‘Galouti’, which literally means ‘melt-in-your-mouth’!
Now we have ADDA, a Michelin-plated restaurant and one of the hottest elevated Indian dining spots in Singapore.
Start your dining experience with Pani Puri (S$12), a popular Indian street food. Visually speaking, this dish is perfect for the ‘gram. The dish consists of a round, hollow puri, stuffed with a mixture of spiced mashed potatoes, and a side of flavoured water. The presentation at ADDA is top-notch as the dish comes riding on a miniature version of the street carts from which they are sold in India. Sweet and spicy, this snack certainly packs a punch!
Moving on to mains, every dish here comes with its own artistic flair. Their Bread (from S$4) dishes comes in a gunny sack, and their signature dish, the Butter Tindle™ Pot Pie (S$26) comes in a pot with a flaky pastry that covers the mouth of the pot, revealing the aromatic dish when carefully cut into. Talk about a multisensory experience.
Mustard is a Bengali and Punjabi restaurant known for tasty food at affordable prices. Located in a small unit space along Race Course road next to some of the bigger names, Mustard is kind of a hidden gem that is sometimes overlooked.
Meat lovers will relish in the restaurant’s Kabab e Tashtar (S$32.90), a mixed kebab platter featuring a delectable array of meats, grilled to perfection. Moist and tender, the selection of meats on this plate makes for one of the best combinations alongside some Saffron Rice (S$8.90) or a piece of Cheese Naan (S$7.90).
Firangi Superstar’s intentions of transporting guests to the oasis that is the Jungle Lodge and Railway Room— amidst the familiar and bustling Craig Road— is a successful one as you disregard the realities of our mid-pandemic world.
You can’t dine here without a momentary pause of awe, especially for the thorough effort that’s on display— from the furniture to the adorned walls, and every crevice in between.
While the essence of Firangi Superstar lies in India’s beauty, there are several nods to other cuisines around the world— take for example the Beirut Bhatura (S$12). It’s a spin on hummus that’s peppered with pomegranate, made with celeriac (also known as celery root), has chickpea masala, and eaten with bhatura.
The Prata Waffle ??? (S$24) is one dish that’s gotten the media talkin’ and my tummy rumblin’. Sure, it’s essentially an Asian spin on chicken and waffles, but can you really say no to comfort and familiarity? Not as confusing as those triple question marks show, the Madras-style fried chicken is semi-enclosed in waffle-pressed prata, but not before a butter chicken sauce accompanies it to the stage.
Eat it how you like— disassemble it with your hands or perform a dainty dissection with a fork and knife. Either way, you’ll be greeted with lusciously tender chicken whose crunchy battered shell will have you cleaning the plate of every tittynope in sight.
Room for dessert? You can’t turn your back on the Chocolate Jamun (S$15). A cheeky play on the classic gulab jamun, the gulab jamun here is macerated in saffron cardamom syrup for a pop of herbaceous fun amidst the house-made cardamom vanilla ice-cream. Trust the chocolate crumble to lend a subtle sweetness to the dessert— just like a reliable old friend who’s always got your back.
Annalakshmi is on this list not just because the food is mouth-watering, but also because it’s a non-profit restaurant. Run largely by volunteers, the staff here work not just to make ends meet, but they volunteer and dedicate their time as they find joy in the act of service to the community.
Patrons who come here can eat as much as they want and pay any amount, allowing diners who are going through a hard time to also enjoy a proper meal without having to worry about the cost.
The food here is generally South Indian and comes buffet-style, so you can help yourself to your favourite dishes as much as you want. Price-wise, if you feel like giving back, feel free to pay a sum that’s higher than usual to show support to the restaurant’s cause.
20 Havelock Road, Central Square, #01-04, Singapore 059765
+65 6339 9993
Tue to Sun: 11.30am – 3pm & 6pm – 9pm
Closed on Mon
Instead of typical Southern Indian dishes, Swaadhist serves up an array of traditional Kerala cuisine in the heart of Little India.
A must-try here, which many diners make return trips for, is their Bamboo Chicken Biryani (S$12). Served fresh from the bamboo it was steamed in, the dish exuded an intoxicating earthy fragrance the moment it was pushed out from its tube.
Prepared amongst a heap of long-grain basmati rice, the lightly spiced chicken pieces were juicy and tore apart with ease. There were the bits of fat that clung for their life onto the chunks of chicken, adding a nice greasiness and gelatinous texture that complemented the overwhelmingly herbaceous taste of cumin and star anise.
If you are not a fan of spice, their Appam With Coconut Milk (S$4 for two) and Vegetable Ishtoo (S$6.50) will make for welcome treats that taste as good as they look. Prepared using fermented rice flour together with creamy coconut milk, the mildly sourish appam exuded a soft nutty perfume with every bite. When consumed with the Vegetable Ishtoo (a Kerala-style potato stew), the outrageously rich stew felt like the kind of dish the appam was made for.
Good vegetarian restaurants are difficult to find, and one of my favourites in town is Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant.
If you are visiting, don’t miss out on the restaurant’s Butter Chicken (S$11). Generous chunks of vegan chicken sat in a tantalising gravy that wafted in waves of heavenly aroma. The creamy cashew tomato gravy had a delightful blend of tang and butteriness that paired flawlessly with the pieces of mock meat.
Butter Chicken aside, the Vegetable Kurma (S$8) was also a dish we enjoyed especially when eaten with Gokul Vegetarian Restaurant’s Roti Prata (S$2). With a spice sauce of yoghurt, cream and nut paste, the Vegetable Kurma makes for a rich, flavourful dish that will make you forget you are just eating vegetables alone!
Chef Manogren Murugan Thevar from Penang reigns the kitchen of Thevar and wants us to have a taste of the massive potential of what Indian cuisine has to offer locals beyond dosai and butter chicken. Don’t expect grandma’s recipes; his interpretation is experimental, modern and at the very least, unexpected.
These may look like innocent spring rolls, but one bite into them and you’ll know the Mutton Kheema Roll, Min Sauce (S$8) is anything but simple. The mutton was aromatic and spicy— and I mean not with chilli, but with spices and herbs that really brought out the interesting gamey mouthfeel of mutton.
Expect to find quirky dishes like the Mackerel Dosai, Tomato Chutney (S$14). A never-seen-before dosai that’s thin and soft, with a tangy tomato chutney smeared all over the flaky mackerel, it was a delicate carry from plate to mouth, as I wanted to be able to ensure I had every element of the dish in my first bite.
Their Cempedak Puff (S$6) is a must-eat once you’re done having your fill of mains. They may be small (no bigger than the size of your palm, actually), but be sure to savour these tiny pebble-shaped domes filled with cempedak mousse slowly.
13. Jaggi’s Northern Indian Cuisine
No list featuring Indian restaurants in Singapore is complete without the addition of Jaggi’s Northern Indian Cuisine. Known as Singapore’s pioneer North Indian restaurant, they exude a more homely vibe as compared to Bhai Da Dhaba.
Of course, when one thinks of North Indian cuisine, their wide range of bread comes to mind. It’s no different here with Chappati and Naans ranging from just S$1.30!
Feast on the rare-to-find Saag Chicken (S$7.70 for a single portion) and mouthwatering Jaggi’s Butter Chicken (S$7.70 for a single portion).
Jaggi’s may well be the few places in Singapore that serve the authentic Dahi Bhalla (S$2.30)— a quintessential North Indian street food that consists of deep-fried fritters submerged in yoghurt. I would recommend pairing this with a hot cuppa masala chai for an unforgettable experience.
There you have it folks, a list of 13 restaurants to head to for your Indian food fix!
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