Name the Indian state and chances are, you'll find its cuisine here in Singapore. With over 1.2 billion people spread across 29 states, India is the second-most populous nation in the world.
Such a large country will surely have a range of cuisine, with each state having its own tastes and specialities.
With a food map as our guide, tabla! sought to locate cuisine from as many states in India as we could in Singapore. Join us as we take you from the snowy peaks of Jammu and Kashmir down to the southernmost state of Tamil Nadu, from the deserts of Rajasthan in the west to the northeast's Seven Sister States in a culinary adventure that is sure to tantalise your taste buds.
We tried our best to cover all the states but drew a blank when it came to food from the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. In case you know of restaurants which sell food from these places, please drop us a line and we will be happy to mention it in one of our forthcoming issues.
JAMMU & KASHMIR
Kashmir Restaurant was the only one that served Kashmiri cuisine to people here. Since its closure, the Kashmiri community has had potluck sessions three to four times a year where several families will cook and share Kashmiri dishes.
Says a spokesperson for the Kashmiri community Nomita Dhar: "We have picnics at East Coast Park or Marina Barrage and each family brings a dish." The dishes include Kashmiri favourites such as dum aloo, tabak maz, haak, karam ka saag and chok vangan, among others. She adds that it is usually a fun time where the children and adults get together.
However, tabla! found that certain restaurants had Kashmiri dishes on their menu. Copper Chimney on Syed Alwi Road, for instance, serves Kashmiri food options such as Kashmiri naan while Bombay Cafe serves dum aloo kashmiri.
Says Mr Vinay Kuhlmann, a native of Himachal Pradesh: "I have been living in Singapore for five years but I've not come across any restaurant that sells Himachal Pradesh food."
Thus Mr Kuhlmann resorts to making his own food like rajma, babru, mungi dhal, chohare raita and aloo mattar, among others. He also hosts gatherings for his friends where he cooks these dishes and lets them try food from the state. He doesn't make dishes like aktori, seppu vadi, badana and sidu, as he said the ingredients are not readily available in Singapore.
When you think of Punjabi cuisine, more often than not you think of dishes like dal makhani, makke di roti-sarson da saag and chana bhature. These dishes can be found in several places.
Young Sikh Association president Malminderjit Singh recommends Jaggi's Northern Indian Cuisine in Little India for Punjabi food which tastes "authentic, with an almost home-cooked feel to it".
Restaurants like Punjab Grill at Marina Bay Sands and Mustard on Race Course Road also offer Punjabi dishes like sarson da saag- makke di roti and dal makhani.
For non-vegetarian Punjabi cuisine, check out Al-Mezbaan on Syed Alwi Road, which serves dishes such as murgh ke parche alongside Punjabi favourites like dal makhani.
Food from Chandigarh has become characteristic of north Indian cuisine, with popular dishes like butter chicken and tandoori chicken having their origins there.
Two restaurants that serve these dishes are Tandoor at Holiday Inn, Orchard City Centre, and Ras Essence of India in Clarke Quay. Mr Vishal Indulkar, a Mumbai native, likes the ambiance at Tandoor, which has been serving traditional Indian cuisine hailing from different regions of India since 1985 and serves dishes like tandoori chicken, butter chicken and mango curry.
Over at Ras, which also has an outlet at Changi Business Park, tandoori chicken is one of its specialities. Some of its other tandoori dishes include tandoori lobster.
Rabri, bajre ki khichdi, cholia, chaach-lassi and kachri ki sabzi are some dishes that are popular in Haryana.
Chutney Mary, located on East Coast Road, offers mango rabri, a variation of rabri, as part of its dessert items.
On Syed Alwi Road, you can find lassi chaas at Kailash Parbat, a restaurant which serves a range of cuisine from different parts of India.
Chaat is popular in Delhi and is found in many Indian restaurants in Singapore. Besides that, tandoori chicken, parathe and chole bhature are also popular in the state.
Chaat is a Bombay Cafe speciality. The restaurant on Syed Alwi Road serves a wide variety, including samosa chaat, papdi chaat and chana chaat. They also have dishes from other states in India, like dhokla and chana bhatura.
Though Kailash Parbat is well-known for its chaat, it also offers chole bhature, a bhatura platter and a variety of parathe.
Also on Syed Alwi Road, Bikaner Express is a restaurant that boasts vegetarian dishes from Delhi. The restaurant specialises in chaats and chole bhature. It also has a selection of set meals consisting of thalis, which are meals made up of a selection of dishes.
Favourites of Rajasthani cuisine are dal-bati-churma, ker sangari, lal maas and gatte.
Swaad at Desker Road offers Rajasthani dishes on Sundays, including dal-bati-churma.
Besides that, Rajasthani cuisine is hard to find. When Rajasthanis like
Mr Santosh Tibarewala from Marwari Mitra Mandal are missing food from this state, they tend to cook the dishes themselves
Snacks like dhokla and khandvi originate from Gujarat, along with other dishes like thepla, handvo and panki.
Singapore Gujarati Society president Biren Desai recommends Swaad for its Gujarati dishes. The society regularly caters from Swaad for its annual general meetings. Says Mr Desai: "It's basically food that you would eat every day at home - authentic and wholesome, with no fanfare."
Dhokla is also available at Bombay Cafe, and Chutney Mary offers dhokla and khandvi.
Despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate food from this state in Singapore.
Makaan Mumbai on Telok Ayer Street serves popular Maharashtrian food such as shirkhand, thalipeeth and vada pao. Says Delhi native Tarun Agarwal: "The food is good, especially the vada pao. I also find the prices very affordable. I had a good experience dining there and would go back to try the other dishes on the menu."
The restaurant also makes modak during Ganesh Chaturthi.
Gajalee, located at the Esplanade, is another restaurant that offers dishes such as sol kadi, komdi vade, chicken sukha and teesrya, unique to Maharashtra.
Goan cuisine includes dishes such as vindaloo, xacuti, bibinca and prawn balchao, and Kinara at Boat Quay offers some Goan favourites such as vindaloo and prawn balchao. Diner Manisha Mishra feels that the preparation of food at Kinara is wholesome. Says Mrs Mishra: "It is not too oily and not too spicy. The taste is just right."
Chutney Mary on East Coast Road also serves Goan prawn
Bisi bele bhaat, kesari bath, mysore pak, dharwad pedha and chiroti are well-known dishes to Kannadigas.
Saravanaa Bhavan on Syed Alwi Road, Ganesh Vilas restaurant on Ceylon Road and MTR on Serangoon Road offer a variety of food such as bisi bele bhaat and kesari bath while Ganesh Vilas and Saravanaa Bhavan also serve mysore pak.
A frequent diner at these restaurants, Ms Rajeshwari Kolar Ranganatha, says: "These foods are specialities of Karnataka and it's amazing to eat them in Singapore."
Says Samanvay Singapore director Audrey Cunliffe: "Dining at MTR is the definitive Bangalore eating experience. It will not only satisfy your hunger but also leave you wanting more." Samanvay Singapore is a partner of MTR
Puttu-kadala, kappa-meen kari and payasam are popular dishes from Kerala that one can readily get in Singapore.
The restaurants that serve these dishes are Swaadhisht Authentic Kerala Restaurant on Chander Road, Spice Junction on Race Course Road, Premaas Cuisine on Dalhousie Lane and Mango Tree on East Coast Road.
Since Tamils are the majority Indian community in Singapore, there are a host of restaurants here that offer food from Tamil Nadu.
Samy's Curry at Dempsey offers Tamil Nadu favourites such as sambhar rasam, thosai and Chettinad chicken. Ms Deepika Singh recommends the Chettinad chicken as she finds it very flavourful.
Another restaurant that serves Chettinad chicken is Anjappar Authentic Chettinad Restaurant on Syed Alwi Road, which also offers thosai, sambhar, rasam and various types of biryani. Taste of India on Belilios Lane sells Chettinad chicken, thosai, idli and vendakkai while appam, patchaddy and pongal are sold based on special orders or catering services.
Vegetarian restaurants Saravanaa Bhavan and Ananda Bhavan sell appam, thosai, idli, sambhar rasam and pongal. Ananda Bhavan is located on Selegie Road, Syed Alwi Road and Airport Boulevard.
Says Saravanaa Bhavan managing director Sriram: "We take pride in saying that dining at Saravanaa Bhavan is like eating at home as our food is cooked fresh for every meal."
Ananda Bhavan also offers the traditional Puducherry dishes vendakkai and patchaddy during weddings, while Samy's Curry serves brinjal patchaddy on its regular menu.
Says Samy's Curry director Nagajyothi Mahendran: "Our customers like our food because it has a traditional taste. A lot of them have told us that it reminds them of their mother's or grandmother's cooking back in India."
Komala Vilas, which has various locations, also serves patchaddy on its daily menu.
Hyderabadi biryani, mirchi salan, ghongura pickle and korikoora are some dishes that you can readily get in Andhra Pradesh.
In Singapore, Sankranti on Syed Alwi Road offers Hyderabadi biryani, mirchi bajji, ghongura mutton, ghongura chicken, ghongura prawn and kodi iguru.
Said Mrs Paripurna Srinivas: "I have been to the restaurant several times and I keep going back because I find their food very authentic and fresh. I have tried the ghongura prawn, Hyderabadi briyani and mirchi bajji. The taste is close to the food from Andhra Pradesh."
Another restaurant that serves the popular Hyderabadi biryani is Kailash Parbat on Syed Alwi Road.
Despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate food from this state in Singapore.
So was the case with food from Chhattisgarh. We were unable to locate food from this state in Singapore
Some of West Bengal's popular dishes are bhapa illish and desserts like rosogulla and mishti doi.
While there are many little eateries in Little India serving Bengali dishes, those wanting a variety of Bengali food can try Mustard on Race Course Road. The restaurant serves both Bengali and Punjabi food and offers dishes like chingri maacher malai curry, shorshey ilish and rossogulla.
"Mustard is probably the only restaurant which serves authentic Bengali cuisine in Singapore," says Ms Ananya Mukherjee, who cooks Bengali dishes at home on a regular basis. She enjoys the restaurant's desserts the most. "My favourite is the paatishaapta, which is a traditional pancake roll, as it brings back the taste of India, Kolkata and home."
NAGALAND/ ASSAM/ ARUNACHAL PRADESH/ SIKKIM/MIZORAM/ TRIPURA/ MEGHALAYA/ MANIPUR
Food from India's north-eastern states, like pitha from Assam, chakhwi from Tripura and momos from Sikkim and Nagaland, is not readily available here. Indians from these states satiate themselves from Fifth Season Tangra Chinese with dishes like momos, pan- fried or steamed dumplings which have become popular throughout many parts of India, and various kinds of thukpa, which are soups. Fifth Season offers food from India's only Chinatown located in Kolkata, West Bengal.
Assamese cuisine is similar to Bengali cuisine, explains Mr Sohel Arnool from the Assam Association. Both cuisines use mustard oil for cooking and commonly use panchpuran, which is a combination of five spices - nigella, fennel, cumin, mustard and fenugreek. Thus, the Assamese sometimes get their food from Bengali restaurants, though Mr Arnool adds that they request for less spices to be used - a feature of Assamese cuisine.
The Bihar and Jharkhand communities in Singapore have a hard time finding food from their home states, which include dishes like thekua, pua, pittha, marua-ka-roti, litti-chokha, khaja and anarasa, here.
Mr Abdhesh Prasad from Bijhar Singapore explains that because it is next to impossible to find food from these states in Singapore, members in the association get their food fix during monthly get-togethers, where they cook dishes from their hometowns.
Similarly, Ms Ankita Pandey from Uttarakhand said she hasn't come across any restaurant in Singapore that serves food such as aloo ke gutke, kaapa, jhangora ki kheer and chainsoo from Uttarakhand.
Hence, she makes her own food such as aloo ke gutke, gauhath (a type of dal) and Uttarakhand-style mutton for her family. She uses ingredients such as mustard oil, cardamom, cloves and pepper in her mutton dish.
Said Ms Pandey: "People from Uttarakhand add a lot of spinach to their food." She also makes pua - a sweet dish which is commonly served during festivals and birthdays in Uttarakhand. Added Ms Pandey: "It is made from semolina, sugar, banana, curd and it's fried like a round pakora."
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