Most of the time when I eat Indian food, the choices are mainly Roti prata ( Indian crispy fried bread ) or Mee goreng ( fried noodles in tomato and chili sauce ). It is not because there are limited choices in Indian meal; but because the two meals mentioned are widely available in Singapore and Malaysia. There are other meals that are delicious as well, such as Indian chicken or fish head curry, Indian rice ( nasi goreng ), Kambing soup ( mutton soup ) and so on. The Indian food that are served in Malaysia and Singapore are also mainly halal; which effectively means that it is also suitable for Muslims as well.
I wanted to try something different besides the usual. So I went to a Indian Vegetarian restaurant in Little India in Singapore for lunch with a lady friend. When we were there, I noticed that the tables were already half filled with customers. I placed my order which is the North and South Indian Thali meals. Frankly I do not know what to expect but I am prepared to try new menu. The cost of each Indian Thali meal is about US$6/- excluding drinks. There are many different types of beverages that you can choose – from Indian coffee/tea to Coke and Sprite or fruit juices. Alternatively you can just go for plain water which is free.
When our Thali meals arrived, I was taken surprise by the size of the meal. It was served in a large round tray with small steel bowls of curry gravy, vegetable, yogurt and other gravy which I have no idea what it is. The main distinction between the 2 Thali is the yellow and white rice and the different gravy that are served in each individual bowls. There is the usual chapati, which is bread Indian style, dhal and chili paste. I saw Indians sitting at the next table eating chapati with their hands, effortlessly breaking it into small pieces, dipping it onto the bowl of gravy and eating it. For me, it takes two hands to break the bread into small pieces. The curry gravy taste delicious, the mashed vegetables tasted bland – adding a little salt or soya sauce would be nice. I do not like yogurt, but I took the opportunity to try it as well. It is not so creamy as some of the yogurt that I have tasted. It had a sour and sweet taste. The white rice tasted slightly dry as compared to the Chinese rice that I normally eat. It is with less moisture and not so tasty. The yellow rice has a firm and nice aroma taste. I prefer the yellow rice as compared to the white rice.
The Thali meal stretches your taste buds. It has everything in it – hot, sour, sweet, sweet and sour, bitter and bland. And the serving is generous. I simply could not finish my meal. In fact, I could only finished half of what was served to me. But the 5 Indian customers that was seated on the next table could easily finished off their Thali meals and two of them are ladies. My suggestion is that if you are going to have Thali for lunch, perhaps you could skip having your breakfast. Interestingly my friend and I are the only 2 non Indians in this restaurant at that time.
I think if the restaurant could add fruits to the Thali meal it would be perfect. Perhaps a bowl of water melon with some papayas would be nice. Also besides the vegetables, perhaps the restaurant could include some mushrooms as well. Mushrooms make a good compliment in any meal. Although the Thali is a very popular meal among the Indians and non Indians, personally it will not be one of my favorite meal. I still liked the Indian Roti prata – crispy fried bread served with hot Indian fish or mutton curry.
On my next trip to Little India, I will try some other Indian food there. Perhaps it will be Indian Fish head curry or their fried chicken. For more photos of food and places of interest in Singapore and Johor Bahru, visit my website at the link below: –