Singapore - Jiggs Kalra's Punjab Grill Opens at Marina Bay Sands
Jiggs Kalra - India's food personality extraordinaire has opened the Punjab Grill at Marina Bay Sands!
This promises to be the best thing to happen to the Indian food scene in Singapore since Manish Law at Rang Mahal and Milind Sovani at Song of India raised the bar for Indian fine dining here.
Punjab Grill by Jiggs Kalra
Marina Bay Sands
Lunch:11.30am-3.30pm, Dinner: 6.30pm-11.00pm (Daily
)Tel: 6688 7395
Exactly 1 month old today, Singapore now has a serious contender for the Best Indian Restaurant title in the new Punjab Grill at Marina Bay Sands - and it's owned by none other than Jiggs Kalra, practically the Zeus on the Indian culinary Olympus.
And Kalra shows he's pretty serious in taking on other top Singapore Indian restaurants (think Milind Sovani's Song of India, Manish Law's Rang Mahal, or the suave, sophisticated Yantra at Tanglin Mall, which claimed nodding acquaintance with the Copper Chimney Group of India) - the kitchens of Punjab Grill are staffed by alumnus of Delhi's legendary Bukhara restaurant and Dum Pukht of ITC Maurya - and the quality of cooking really showed through.
A typical non-vegetarian lunch set I tried today started off with a papdi chaat slathered with yoghurt & sprinkled with spices, a crisp lettuce salad bathed delicately with honey tulsi dressing, and tiny cubes of cut watermelon, strawberries & honeydew melon.
This was followed by a plate of perhaps the best tandoor-grilled meats I'd ever tasted in Singapore: perfectly-timed grilled salmon fillet tikka, a lamb seekh kebab stuffed with goat's cheese (Raunaqeen Seekhan), and the house specialty - a de-boned tandoori spring chicken (Murgh Tikka Punjab Grill).
Another memorable dish on the menu was the Saag Gosht - delicately boiled lamb cubes which fall apart at the merest touch of a fork, blanketed in a thick gingery spinach puree.
Then, there's the Dal Panjratani, made from 5 types of lentils, and which was reminiscent of the famous Tadka Dhal from the legendary Bukhara of Delhi. It's smoky, subtly spiced and totally addictive - culinary nirvana on a plate.
The lunch set comes with steamed basmati rice, and some brilliant, crisped garlic naans. A tiny decanter containing a delicious boondi raita (chickpea dumpling with yoghurt) went fantastically well with the rice.
The dessert plate at the end consisted of a very good pineappple sorbet, a mango-saffron creme brulee, and perhaps the best Gulab Jamun I'd ever tasted - this one came stuffed with chocolate!
Loved the subtle cooking at Punjab Grill. The chefs' skills here are par excellence - they most certainly knew their stuff! :-)
Punjab Grill by Jiggs Kalra
B1-01A, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
2 Bayfront Avenue
Tel: +65 6688 7395
re: Bu Pun Su
Hi Bu Pun Su - Punjab Grill serves two types of set lunch menu: a non-vegetarian and a vegetarian one. There is also an a la carte menu available during lunch, but no buffet.
For me, Indian fine dining in Singapore had always been either Rang Mahal (for decades) and later Milind Sivani's Song of India (Sovani even collaborated with renowned Indian TV celebrity-chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, to produce a cookbook on coastal Indian fare). But I'd always felt that Rang Mahal and Song of India somehow paled in comparison when compared to top Indian restaurants in India (e.g. Southern Spice of Chennai, Dum Pukht in Delhi, Dakshin in Bangalore, etc.) or even those in London (Tamarind, Zaika, Benares, Quilon, Amaya).
Punjab Grill in India itself did *not* quite impress me - the standards in the various outlets are pretty inconsistent, e.g. I didn't like the one in Bangalore much, which felt somehow like a fast food joint.
But their Singapore outlet is in a different category altogether: inventive serving techniques (e.g. those individual shot glasses filled with liquid reminded me of the ones in Punjabi by Nature in Delhi, or Bombay Brasserie in London), luscious kebabs, and superb service. Price-wise, it was also less than half of what I'd pay in a Michelin-starred Indian restaurant in London (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/898745), and a fraction of what I paid in Dum Pukht Delhi (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893359) recently.
P.S. - Punjabi by Nature in Delhi spiked its liquid filling for Golgappas with vodka - food for thought for Indian restaurateurs here ;-)
Klyeoh, thanks for your detailed reply.
I learned a lot about Indian restaurants and cuisine here :)
Did you actually go to India to savor their gastronomy places? Wow ... Is Delhi, Mumbai or Rajasthan the place to be for Indian's finest food?
Do they have "special" rice (or naan) at these kinds of places? I'm referring to the equivalent of shinmai rice in Japan. How about the chicken? In India, is there any high quality chicken such as at the level of Bresse or Shamorock in which the chicken is specifically fed and grown?
Lastly, is Indian cuisine really particular about seasonal ingredients?
re: Bu Pun Su
Hi again Bu Pun Su - I'm usually in India on business, but took the opportunity to suss out good eats whilst I'm there. Anyway, many Chinese-Singaporeans are pretty exposed to Indian cuisine from a young age (unlike Chinese from HK, Taiwan or elsewhere), so we develop a liking for Indian spices and food options very early on.
It's difficult to put one's finger on the "best" culinary spot in India - but large, cosmopolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore hold the edge in having sophisticated eateries. Indian cuisine's pretty regional - like Chinese cuisine: Mumbai's Maharashtrian cuisine is very strong in seafood, Chennai is home to some of the best South Indian vegetarian food on the planet, Delhi has fabulous lamb dishes and kebabs, etc.
Indian basmati rice have different grades, and the top-range ones are fabulous. These are long-grained, as opposed to short-grained Japanese varieties.
As for quality of chickens (or lamb), India hasn't really gone that far down this road to specialization yet. So, no, you won't see produce attached to specific place-names with high quality control. Also, Indian culinary culture stemmed from the historical use of spices and curries to "mask" poor quality produce in the old days - so freshness of ingredients, or having high-quality raw produce is a fairly recent development.
There's little emphasis on seasonal ingredients - again, the use of assertive spices in their cooking would render differences between fresh vs frozen raw ingredients to be pretty insignificant.
Family dinner at Punjab Grill this evening:
- Golgappas - fun and tasty: hollow pastry globes filled with potatoes, chickpeas, onions and spices, to be filled with spiced, tamarind-scented water and popped into the mouth whole!
- Tandoori cheesy mushroom, which consisted of button mushrooms marinated with mature cheddar cheese and chargrilled;
- Lahori seekh kebab: seasonal vegetables tandoor-grilled;
- Harra Bharra kebab, which were meltingly-soft kebabs, made from spinach, green peas and paneer, spiced with herbs and pan-grilled;
- Paneer Makhani: always dependable. Delicious here.
- Chicken Dum Biryani: easily the best biryani I'd had in Singapore!
- Bread basket which included naan, butter naan, laccha paratha, roti.
Still the *best* Indian spot in Singapore today, IMO.