I rarely eat Indian food when I dine out, reason being that my standard for Indian food, precisely north-Indian food is very high. Being from Punjab in India (yes, the same Punjab as in the name of the restaurant), and having spent 5 years of my life in Amritsar – which is often called the food capital of India – I’m used to even street side food tasting great. So, more often than not, visits to North-Indian restaurants result in disappointment or a “meh” at best.
Our recent visit to Punjab Grill, however, was far from the “meh” category and the delectable meal just left me craving for more. Punjab Grill is as quintessentially North-Indian or Punjabi as it can get, with lip-smacking vegetarian treats. The restaurant is a must for anyone who wants to know what real Punjabi food is all about, chances are this place is going to turn you into an ardent Punjabi food lover.
The food at Punjab Grill is inspired by age-old delicacies from the undivided Punjab region – gourmet metropolises like Lahore, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Kabul, Amritsar, Multan and Patiala – some of which are now in India, while the rest fall in Pakistan.
On Chef Javed’s recommendation, we tried the vegetarian 5 Course Degustation Menu, which is a sterling example of his culinary prowess. Chef Javed Ahamad, who is the corporate chef of Punjab Grill is probably the premier exponent of creating unique Indian dishes for the Singaporean palate. Armed with an arsenal of experience and several awards and accolades to his name, he makes sure that your meal at Punjab Grill is nothing short of a Gastronomic Journey.
Vegetarian 5 Course Degustation Menu at Punjab Grill
Course One was a Golgappa Platter. If you’re not Indian, let me tell you that Golgappa is pretty much the national street food of India. It’s a whole wheat or semolina shell filled with a spiced, mashed potato stuffing and served with an array of chutneys and flavoured water.
Punjab Grill’s Golgappa Platter is presented beautifully, with the stuffed Golgappa, drizzled with a tangy tamarind chutney and resting on a tiny glass of spiced coriander water – you’re supposed to pour this water into the golgappa just before you pop it into your mouth.
The Golgappa is followed by Tamatar Ka Shorba aka Tomato Soup, and in one moment you’re elevated from street food to a more sophisticated blend of flavours. The soup is really, really good, with delicate hints of coriander and cumin. The soup is poured in style over croutons, the croutons here being a crispy, spiced and saucy Indian snack called boondi.
The third course consists of 3 Appetisers served on a bed of potato choori (dehydrated potatoes). While the Paneer Tikka Mulatani was really good, it was the broccoli that stole the show – yes, that green cruciferous vegetable that few like! No kidding, the char-grilled Tandoori Broccoli was to die for. Slathered in a creamy almond marinade, the Broccoli was soft and crunchy at the same time – definitely the star dish of the night. Dahi Ke Kebab, a very interesting and creative dish – think yogurt flavoured with cardamom and herbs and fried into a ball – was good too, but I didn’t find it exceptional.
After the appetisers, we were served a Lime Sorbet that is supposed to act as a palette cleanser, but also acts a refreshing pause to the meal before the main course comes out.
The Main Course is served with Tava Asparagus and Gucchi Pulao individually plated. Daal Punjab Grill, Paneer Tikka Lababdar and Assorted Naans are served on the side for the table.
Gucchi, better known as morels are amongst the most desired mushrooms in the world. I am neither a rice person nor a mushroom person. So, imagine my surprise as not only did I love the Gucchi Pulao, it was the highlight of the mains for me. Bursting with flavours, the Gucchi Pulao was simply too good – definitely the best pulao/biryani dish I have ever had.
The Daal Punjab Grill is brilliant as well, and why wouldn’t it be given that its simmered overnight. Rich! Any Indian vegetarian meal would be incomplete without a paneer preparation, and Paneer Tikka Lababdar rounds off the mains nicely here, with its creamy and robust gravy of tomatoes, onions and bell peppers. Although, I liked the paneer, it was a bit too heavy for me. I found the gravy a bit too creamy, but that was precisely why hubby loved it.
Word of warning – as delicious and sumptuous as the main course is, go easy as you really have to save room for the Dessert Platter, with a great selection of desserts.
Indian vs Western: The war of the Desserts
We started off with the Indian dessert platter. The Turmeric Kulfi was the star here – simply mind-blowing! Served alongside was the Rose Kheer with toasted almonds. The kheer was quite good too, but a bit sweet towards the bottom end where the rose syrup had settled. We were also served a Chocolate cake with Hazelnut shavings – good but the traditional Indian desserts won this round hands down. None of the desserts was sickly sweet and the portion sizes were just perfect – instead of stuffing ourselves with one dessert, we were able to taste a variety – just the way I like to end my meals. We finished off our meal with a shot of paan in a glass. While I do like paan the traditional way, I have to say I much preferred it in liquid form.
Overall, the vegetarian 5 Course Degustation Menu (S$98++) at Punjab Grill is absolutely brilliant, with everything from the taste to the plating being perfect. The meal was full of hits, with barely a miss. So, if you’re looking for some royal vegetarian fine dining, you really can’t go wrong with Punjab Grill. I can honestly say that this was one of the best meals I have had in Singapore, Indian or otherwise. No wonder the restaurant has raked up so many awards over the years and has firmly set up reputation for being among the best Indian restaurants in town. I only wonder if it is THE best.
Punjab Grill: B1-01A, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, South Podium, 2 Bayfront Avenue. Singapore 018972. P: 66887395
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