Monday, September 9, 2013

Yantra @ Tanglin Mall

I am surrounded by Indians at my work place. Many of my Indian colleagues pack lunch to work and every time I walked past the pantry area during meal time, I would be greeted by the amazing aroma of curries and spices. And I enjoy it! I do not understand much about the Indian heritage and culture but I definitely love Indian cuisine. From the North to the South, from Naan bread to Basmati rice, from chutneys to papadums, from Tandoori chicken to Masala beef. I love them all! I am always fascinated by the way different spices are combined in Indian dishes and how they amazingly bring out the fragrance and flavor of the meat or vegetable used.

So when there was an invitation to the award-winning Indian cuisine restaurant Yantra for a media tasting event, I readily accepted it!

Hidden in a quiet corner of Tanglin Mall, Yantra serves authentic North Indian cuisine in a contemporary setting. The restaurant has a delightful ambience and I am sure you will like the mood the moment you step into the restaurant, walking past the entrance hallway lined with rows of candles on both sides. Unthinkable from outside, the place is surprisingly huge with a seating capacity of up to 240 guests and standing cocktail reception of up to 350 guests.

A corridor of high black tiled-walls and cold metal grilles connects the restaurant to the bar area. The lighting is dim with a series of circular candle chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, creating a mysterious and yet alluring ambience. At the end of the dark corridor is Soma Bar where you can relax for a pre or post dinner retreat. The long black bar counter with contrasting white stools forms a statement feature to the lounge area, with a lit back bar bottle display and tiered counter top shelving arrangement to exhibit an array of spirits and mixers.

We were served an array of fine North Indian dishes prepared by the new Chef at helm – Executive Chef Asif Iqbal who has worked in India, Dubai and Hong Kong before joining Yantra in Singapore.

Dinner was kicked off with 2 vegetarian appetizers. Akhroat Paneer Tikka was tandoor-baked cottage cheese stuffed with walnut and coated with cardamom and mace while Broccoli Cheddar Tikkis require more effort to make and were croquettes of broccoli fused with cheese and bell peppers and served with in-house pineapple dip. Perfect starters for Vegans.

Akhroat Paneer Tikka - Cottage cheese stuffed with crunchy walnut,
coated with cardamon and mace flavoured creamy marinade and cooked in tandoor

Broccoli Cheddar Tikki - Broccoli fused with cheese and bell peppers with Pineapple dip

I was not too impressed with the Bombay Tawa Chicken which were grilled chicken skewers with curry leaves and mustard. Although flavourful, the meat was too dry for my liking. But the Mirchi Kebab got my nod. Fresh green chili (Jalapeno?) were stuffed with minced chicken marinated with coriander, chilies and cumin and grilled until the chili slightly charred and the filling just tender.

Bombay Tawa Chicken - Mumbai style skewered grill chicken,
with curry leaves and mustard

Mirchi Kebab - Chicken marinated with coriander, chillies and cumin skewered with chilly bottoms

One of my top picks of the night would be the Mutton Pepper Fry. Lamb was braised for hours until fork tender before the meat was stir-fried in double-quick time with onions, black pepper and cumin over very high flame. This dish takes time and requires good cooking technique. One of the dishes that I would come back for.

Mutton Pepper Fry - Stir fried lamb with onion rings, black pepper and cumin

Another highlight of the evening was the fresh oysters in tandoori marinade served with chili ice cream and crackers. The spicy tandoori sauce was very well balanced out by the cold chili ice cream. Very creative, very nice!

Spanking Fresh Oysters with Chilli Ice Cream and Cress -
Shucked oysters tossed in tandoori marinade with crackers, ice cream and fresh cress

The halibut was well grilled but I thought the coriander and spinach gravy was a bit of distraction. It did not really infuse the fish with its flavour. I would prefer to have the halibut on its own.

Nilgiri Halibut - Grilled halibut with coriander and spinach gravy

I am a big big dum biriyani fan and the rice dish never fails to conjure a warm feeling. I can confidently tell you that the Hyderabadi Mutton Dum Biriyani I had at Yantra was one of the best Biriyani I have had for a long time. To make dum biriyani, marinated lamb and extra long basmati grains are slow-cooked with flavours of cardamom, saffron, clove, cumin and lots of other spices. The process of slow cooking gently persuades all the spices to release maximum flavour and sealing of the lid with dough achieves maturing. Cooking slowly in its juices, the lamb retains all its natural aroma and infused with the richness of flavours. I am more than willing to swap all the dishes that evening just for this dum biriyani!

Hyderabadi Mutton Dum Biriyani -
Street style biriyani 'Dum' cooked with extra long grain basmati rice with marinated lamb

Khubani ka Meetha -
"Jammy" apricots with apricot kernels and fresh cream

Executive Chef Asif Iqbal
My first attempt at making Naan in a Tandoor.
Garlic, olive and sun-dried tomato Naan bread

With more hits than misses, Yantra successfully incorporates authentic fine North Indian dining experience with contemporary interiors to make discerning diners feel pampered, special and would return for more. I am definitely one of them.

*Special Thanks to Mark Ong for collaborating with me on this tasting and photoshoot!

163 Tanglin Road
Tanglin Mall #01-28/33
Singapore 247933
T: (+65) 6836 3088

Opening Hours:
12pm – 3pm (Everyday)
6:30pm – 10pm (Weekdays)
6:30pm – 11pm (Weekends)


  1. Oooooo....I love Indian and this one looks so exclusively exquisite - a class above the rest. Wow!!! Bryani in a claypot! Impressive!

  2. Briyani looks gorgeous and I want to eat your naan. I am surrounded by Britons at work and they too always pack Indian food for lunch. Drives me crazy every time I walknbynthe pantry during lunch.

    1. Haha PY! That's why I choose to jog during lunch time! :D

  3. Their dishes look modernly presented... I love Northern Indian food, used to be able to get really good ones in the UK!

  4. I love Indian and Chinese foods. Both are great in taste. Bryani is best non-vegetarian dish in india food.

    Tahitian Noni Juice

  5. The food images turn out real well, especially the Biriyani ones.. Mouth drooling

  6. i not have so much indian food, but your photo looks great.

  7. Oysters with chili ice cream sounds awesome.

    Briyani is now fueling my urge for more carbs...aaargh!

    1. Haha! I know what you mean... the balance between good food and waistline!

  8. Looks like an incredible meal! Great photos. Also, looks very fun to try cooking your own naan!

  9. Gee, that Indian place looks fancy pants. That mirchi kebab and broccoli cheddar tikki are some dishes I've never even heard before! I better educate myself and pay Yantra a visit soon!

  10. I love naan bread and nasi briyani. But the above spread everything look so delectable and delightful. Wah.. you sure look like a professional journalist. :))

    Best regards.

  11. Oh, you were at Yantra's media tasting? Jolynn was just telling me about it sometime ago, but sadly, I'm not a fan of Indian cuisine. Hopefully we'll get to meet at other tasting events. Love your food shots!

    1. Sure, Shirley! Looking forward to meeting you in person too! :D

  12. Alvin , the chili ice cream sounds interesting , the green color sure looks pretty :D The food shots look wonderful as always !


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