Crab Biriyani at Heritage Bites

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

DC and I took his parents out for Indian. We’d heard about the crab biriyani at Heritage Bites and were very eager to try it out. The restaurant itself has a very understated decor – modern with Indian touches. Its simple layout adds to the spaciousness and helps in getting the attention of the waitstaff. DC started off with a jaljeera, a drink with mint, lime, cumin and chilli. I liked the crispy bits floating at the top, they stayed crispy throughout, which is quite amazing considering it’s soaking in the drink. What I didn’t like was the drink itself. It tasted like watered down green chilli sauce to me. Pass.

IMG_3579

We had some starters to begin the meal, a combination platter of chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, prawn and fish. The morsels were tender and well-marinated, though ultimately not as memorable as the mains.

IMG_3580

For mains, we had the Punjabi mutton dhabewala ($15), which was very tender pieces of goat simmered in a thick tomato-based curry. I didn’t get much of it because DC and his dad slurped most of it up! No great loss to me because I was most enamoured of the palak paneer ($15). It was incredibly smooth and creamy without being heavy, and had a tart tang that made it taste almost like tomato (green tomato?). The paneer (mild yogurt cheese) cubes were just the right consistency of yielding yet chewy to the bite. It was really excellent when wiped up with plain naan ($3), probably the best naan I’ve had in recent memory. It was quite thin and amazingly crisp, yet despite its thinness had a soft, slightly al dente centre. If not for the crab biriyani ($25) that followed, we’d probably have ordered one each. Oh yes, there was another dish with okra – I can’t remember what it was exactly, except that it was decent. Too bad that the other dishes completely stole the show.

IMG_3581

And then the piece de resistance! The crab biriyani is da bomb. It is such a great idea: cleanly shelled crab (no nasty jaw-jarring bits at all!) layered with fragrant basmati rice and cooked to a beautifully spiced finish. Add some curry gravy to moisten the thing and you wouldn’t even miss the raita that they forgot (they later included it in the portion we took home). There was a lot of moist, fresh crab in the biriyani, each spoonful had plenty of crab to feel its texture on the tongue and fully taste the yummy crustaceousness of it. It’s such a great idea for a lighter biriyani. I’m definitely coming back for this.

IMG_3584

We were so stuffed that we had to take back a portion of our crab biriyani. But that didn’t stop us from ordering the jalebies ($8). These little fried dough coils soaked in fragrant syrup were quite special: crisp throughout and not tooth-achingly sweet, the syrup was spiked with some lemon juice to round off our dinner on a yummy sweet-sour note. Be warned that each jalebie is quite small, so it may not be the value you’re looking for.

IMG_3589

Nonetheless, we had a very good deal because the place was running a 40% discount promotion on all orders made between 6-8pm. Get there for your crab biriyani fix!

Heritage Bites
#B1-012 Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6837 0858

Advertisements

September in Bali: Menjangan Island

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I was in Permuteran to dive two very different locations. The first was Menjangan Island, also known as the island of the deer. To get there, we had to abide by a whole bunch of rules. I like multi-coloured signs like this and I especially liked the rather paternalistic exhortation to make sure all your diving equipment was attached securely to your body.

CIMG3453

While the diving at Menjangan Island wasn’t quite as spectacular as the other places I’d dived for this trip, it was very relaxing as there weren’t any challenging currents. The water was beautifully blue as usual and while there weren’t as many pelagics, there was still the odd gem or two. This yellow-spotted trevally was one of them.

DSCF1846

Here also was the second time in my diving career I saw a school of squid in broad daylight. The last time I saw a school of squid, it was my first dive. It took more than a hundred dives to see them again.

DSCF1560

Closer to the reef were plenty of longfin batfish. Here, they seemed almost excessively friendly, changing quickly from their day colours…

DSCF1554

… to night colours as they came in close, as they did when wanting to be cleaned.

DSCF1553

For some really odd reason, one of them swam right up to me, as if it was expecting me to do the cleaning honours for it.

DSCF1813

There were plenty of parrotfish around. I’m surprised how little photographed these fish are. I think it’s something to do with how shy they are and how they just don’t stay put in one place.

DSCF1793

There were others like this grouper that I can’t find in my fish ID book…

DSCF1496

… and more familiar ones like this Indian doublebar goatfish hovering over some coral.

DSCF1786

Some of the fish came in schools, like the two-spot snappers in their brownish grey raiment.

DSCF1792

Others were more solitary, like one of my all-time favourites, the juvenile harlequin sweetlips. I can’t get enough of its unique polka dot pattern.

DSCF1829

Some fish lived in crevices, like this yellowbarred jawfish emerging in search of prey.

DSCF1504

Others like this fire dartfish seemed to simply hover in one place posing for the camera.

DSCF1545

There were other fish that lived in crevices, and some of these you won’t want to get too close to. This fimbriated moray eel is one good example.

DSCF1770

Some were small and really difficult to get close to, like the goby. I can’t tell for sure whether this is a common ghostgoby.

DSCF1820

I think this is a large (!) whip goby but as usual, I can’t be sure.

DSCF1653

Other fish are much more easily identified, like these panda clownfish, also known as Clark’s anemonefish. They were so at home among the stinging anemones…

DSCF1500

… as was this anemone shrimp.

DSCF1510

Rather camera-shy was this hermit crab, which hid its face swiftly under its shell as the camera clicked.

DSCF1471

And then the ones that didn’t seem shy at all – the nudibranchs. I saw a white flabellina that seemed to mimic the coral it was on.

DSCF1466

There were others that were even more unidentifiable, like this strange blue one with an orange and white strip outlined by deep blue running down the middle.

DSCF1851

I tried to take some nudibranch portraits, some not quite coming out as I’d like as the flash refused to fire.

DSCF1804

And others came out much better, with a pensive, slightly lonesome feel that seems quite at odds with the experience of being a nudibranch, perhaps.

DSCF1509

Indian at the Esplanade

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

DC and I needed some dinner before seeing the opera (how chi-chi!) at the Esplanade. We didn’t have particularly high expectations of the selection at the Esplanade. The Kebab Factory seemed interesting, so it was a whole load of carbs and curry before sitting through La Boheme. Definitely not a very wise choice, but we’re led by the tummy not really the brain. It was surprisingly good!

We started off with an interesting drink of lime, mint and cumin seed called jaljeera. It was a refreshing aperitif to prepare us for a good meal ahead. Our first dish was a palak dish that tasted a whole load better than it looked! Pushing aside the thought that it looks like gloopy baby food, the pureed spinach was smooth, creamy and quite rich. For a vegetable dish, it sure wasn’t a healthy option but at least we were eating our greens!

IMG_0152

The tandoori salmon I felt was a bit of a weak link. It was competently executed and the spices were fine. Too bad it was overcooked as is quite typical for Indian cooking. It resulted in a rough and not particularly pleasant texture. I liked the side salad of shredded daikon and beetroot much better.

IMG_0155

My favourite dish of the evening was the one with chicken balls stuffed with lamb mince. It’s not often to have something that incorporates two different types of meat. The chicken breast on the outside, quite surprisingly, wasn’t overcooked. The lamb stuffing was flavoured with tomato and it was a bit like bolognaise sauce, a very nice twist – very Indian and very Italian at the same time.

IMG_0158

We tried one of the wholemeal breads but that didn’t turn out too good. It was too tough and didn’t taste that great. The plain naan, on the other hand, was flavourful and fragrant. We’ll go for just the naan next time.

IMG_0159

Mirchi’s Kebab Factory
#02-23 Esplanade Mall
Tel: 6334 5590

A Constellation of Prata

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

I don’t know what cunning folly took us when we decided to go to The Prata Place for Sunday lunch. My brother topped up the petrol specially for the long drive out to Upper Thomson. It was pretty crowded from the breakfasting masses when we arrived at about noon on Sunday. A pair of regulars were chased off to a smaller table to accommodate our party of five at the crowded cafe.

Even though each of us ordered something different, we hardly had a quarter of what was on the menu. We started off with crisp uppatham (pappadum) redolent with whole cumin. The paper thosai arrived next, a crisp cone accompanied by four types of curry and chutney.

dscf3748

Everyone enjoyed the paper thosai. Most of it was crispy and the thicker base veered towards soft and chewy. I enjoyed that part the best because the thicker parts showcased very well the characteristic fermented rice flavour.

dscf3751

The masala paper thosai was made of the same excellent stuff.

dscf3749

The difference was that it had a delicious masala filling of spiced potato and frozen mixed vegetable.

dscf3753

Now the curry chicken was top notch. It was thick with spices and was incredibly rich and, well, chickeny. The plus point was that it had a different spice mix from the other curries, so we didn’t feel like we were eating the same side curry for the thosai and prata. I alternately dipped  my thosai with that and the other curries.

dscf3755

I haven’t had murtabak for a while and was quite surprised to see this thin crispy version instead of the traditional thick and soft one. The change made it a far more manageable portion, though I suspect the calories were about the same from the extra oil. There was plenty of well-marinated chicken from good parts, unlike other places that serve you dried up leftover chicken.

dscf3757

It was good quality and I enjoyed it, though deep down I still prefer the traditional thick version.

dscf3764

We also had paper prata and mushroom egg prata. Both were good with crisp outer layers and soft chewy inner layers. My brother liked the mushroom one because it had lots of large size mushroom slices. I wonder where they sourced their jumbo canned mushrooms.

For dessert we had the banana prata. It worked so well because of the cooked banana pulp inside. They used local bananas so it had a slight sour tang which really hit the spot. I can imagine it working well with chocolate sauce or condensed milk too.

dscf3761

We couldn’t resist the chocolate prata. It was a special paper prata with chocolate sauce and chocolate rice on top.  It tasted like a local and extra unhealthy version of chocolate crepe. (What’s the difference between paper prata and special paper prata? They fold the special prata into the roof shape and charge you 20 cents more.)

dscf3769

To wash all the oily, artery-clogging goodness down, we had teh bing and teh halia. The teh bing was the best I’ve had in a long while. I had to stop myself from drinking the smooth, fragrant brew at one go. It was just the right sweetness too. Those who had teh halia said theirs was good too. Plenty of ginger fragrance but not too biting on the tongue.

Five drinks, two packs of uppatham, two thosais, one murtabak, four pratas and one chicken curry cost us $33. Excellent value.

The Prata Place
1 Thong Soon Ave
Springleaf Estate