With a population of 1.38 billion, approximately 1/5 of the global population, India has a diverse and rich culinary heritage that would be nearly impossible to condense into a single meal.
Food Revivalist and Indian Culinary Historian, Pritha Sen, is seeking to do just that by exclusively curating a menu at Yantra to showcase the rich culinary heritage of India, together with Executive Chef Pinaki Roy working on the execution.
The duo collective brought together diverse cultures, flavours and ingredients from across the Indian continent, spanning from ethereal Kashmir to the lush, southern coastlines to present them in an Indian fine dining restaurant in Singapore, Yantra, which recently reopened its doors in July 2022.
Acclaimed as one of India’s leading food historians, Pritha Sen’s curated menu seeks to showcase regional recipes collected from home kitchens, drawing inspiration from what she passionately terms ‘Indigenous Heritage Cuisine’.
We were invited to a dinner tasting to sample items off the curated menu. Here are the items we tried:
First up, is the quintessential Indian drink, mango lassi. We were off to a very good start. The mango lassi was not cloyingly sweet as some varieties could be, the taste was predominantly yoghurt with a tinge of mango. Creamy and smooth and slightly sweet, but never cloying. A perfect start to the meal.
Chaat Banarasi/ $18 – Aerated yoghurt, potato and chana chaat, homemade crisps, garnished with pomegranate seeds, fresh coriander, and crunchy sev. Sev refers to the small yellow pieces of crunchy noodles made from chickpea flour paste and seasoned with spices.
The light and airy yoghurt is sweet and slightly tangy, and combined well with the other crunchy ingredients. We were impressed at how common indian street food can be transformed into such a refined looking dish. Appetizing and refreshing.
Taka Luchi Alu Dum / $16 – Curried baby potatoes wrapped in miniature flaky, puffed flatbread.
Eat this with your fingers. One bite delight of chewy pastry and soft melty curried potato.
Badal Jaam/$18 – A baked aubergine dish made with sun-dried tomatoes and walnuts, hung yoghurt with a sophisticated underlying spice blend.
The spice blend packs quite a punch and is beautifully ameliorated by the yoghurt.
Royalla Vepudu/$24 – Andhra-style spiced prawns cooked in traditional clay earthenware, served on crispy appams with a tomato chutney. This is another dainty and flavoursome dish worth trying.
Kong Shop Chicken /$24 – Aromatic bamboo-skewered chicken in black sesame paste, cooked on binchotan.
Murg ka Sula /$22 – An ancient barbeque charcoal-chicken recipe made during royal hunts.
Achari Sabz Haldi Kebab /$16 – Melt-in-your-mouth pan-seared patties, spiced with pickled fresh yellow turmeric
Tandoori Paneer Tikka /$18 – Indian cottage cheese stuffed with pickling spices, charcoal-grilled in the tandoor to smoky perfection. The smokiness imbued into the tofu-soft cheese was intoxicating. We would have ordered seconds if not to save stomach space for the other credible dishes to follow.
Ema Datshi /$18 – A classic Bhutanese and Tibetan chilli-cheese soup made with seasonal produce. The chilli and cheese soup combination is really unique, in a good way, to our Chinese-Singaporean taste buds. We can imagine this soup being so comforting on a rainy day. The soup is served with home-made steam bread dusted with coriander powder.
Navratan Pulao/$32 – Navratan or nine jewels comprising among other almonds, pistachios, cauliflower, cottage cheese, fresh peas, baby tomatoes is what this pulao is made of shot with saffron.
Hyderabadi Chicken dum Biryani/$36 – The classic chicken biryani from Hyderabad, cooked in purdah with flavours of mint, coriander and saffron
Sutta Gosht /$34 – An authentic sutta gosht or sleepy mutton, slow-cooked in its own juices for over four hours to melt-in-your-mouth perfection in an alluring blend of aromatic spices.
Ma Di Dal/$24 – Punjabi-style creamy black lentils, slow-cooked over a traditional wood-burning fire, served with soft white butter
Haleem Rashmi/$32 – Slow-cooked, marinated pulled jackfruit, whole red lentils, and hand-pounded cracked wheat.
Phirni/$18 – Sweetened powdered rice with thickened milk.
From tangy street food to the signature spiced grilled meat of royal Mughal cuisine to a spiced soup from the hilly region of Bhutan and Tibet, we were treated to a whirlwind of flavours that reminded us of our travels through India.
My last travel to India was to the blue city of Jaipur and this was well before covid. The meal at Yantra hit me strong with waves of nostalgia, bringing back fond memories of my time spent there.
163 Tanglin Rd