Bitter gourd Potato Curry / Karela Batata Sabzi

For ages, bitter gourd has been the one vegetable that does not have many takers due to its bitter taste. The health benefits of bitter gourd are numerous and it should be made in a way that appeals to kids as well as grown-ups. During my childhood in India, we had a Gujarati family in our building who were (partially) my daycare. They used to make this dish called ‘Karela Batata Nu Shaak’ quite often. It is them to whom I owe this recipe and the fond memories of this dish. The addition of a pinch of sugar helps you overcome the bitter taste of the gourd and the crunch of the cashews along with the ever-favourite potato make this an appealing dish.

Bitter gourd Potato Curry

  • Servings: Serves 4 pax
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients :

  • 4 small sized bitter gourd, peeled, seeds removed and cut into small crescents
  • 1 big potato, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup crushed cashews
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped coriander
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Coriander for garnish (optional)

Bittergourd potato Curry

Bittergourd potato Curry


Method:

  • Sprinkle some salt on the cut bitter gourd pieces and keep them aside.
  • Cut bittergourd pieces

    Cut bittergourd pieces

  • Take oil in a non stick vessel and wait for it to warm on medium flame.
  • Add the cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter.
  • Squeeze out the water from the bitter gourd and add the pieces in the vessel. Cover the vessel with a lid and let it cook for 7-8 mins on low flame.
  • Then add the potato pieces along with a bit of salt and turmeric. Let the combination cook for a further 10 mins with the lid covered.
  • Now add the chopped coriander, white sesame seeds and crushed cashews. Mix them well and let them cook for 2 mins. Keep the vessel uncovered at this stage.
  • Spicing stage

    Spicing stage

  • Finally add in the coriander powder, red chilli powder and sugar and mix them nicely into the cooked vegetables.
  • Final stage

    Final stage

  • Finally garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • Preferably pick up young bitter gourd for this recipe.
  • To remove the seeds easily, peel the bitter gourd, slice down vertically and use a spoon to remove the seeds.
  • Squeeze the bitter gourd pieces well before adding them to the pan for cooking.

Nung Len – Mackenzie Road, Little India

When the atmosphere of Thailand gets transported to Singapore with a hipster vibe, you get Nung Len, a Thai eatery in Little India. A white tuk-tuk parked outside the restaurant along with wooden benches, auto rickshaw wall art, non air-conditioned space (which you don’t mind on a rainy evening) and Singha beers immediately remind you of Bangkok. Helmed by a Le Cordon Bleu chef, the hints of Western and Thai fanfare that form this fusion menu are quite evident.

Nung Len wall art

Nung Len wall art


Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk @Nung Len

The Orders
For the vegetarians, there are limited options on the menu. Since they did not have a menu online, I called them and asked for their veg-specific items while making a reservation. They have some starter and rice options but they were kind enough to accommodate my Green Curry request since I had inquired about it in advance. With Thai cuisine being vegetarian friendly on the whole, I really wish Nung Len adds vegetarian curry options on their menu.

What better way to start a Thai meal than to order ‘Fried Spring Rolls’ for a crunchy and crispy experience. Brimming with vegetables and lot of flavor, these spring rolls made an excellent appetizer.

Fried spring rolls

Fried spring rolls at $6


The Thai signature dish presents itself on the menu in the form of ‘Pineapple Fried Rice’. It was loaded with Thai flavors, pineapple and some Asian vegetables to make it a wholesome offering. The taste was quite decent and it helped that the rice grains were separate.
Pineapple fried rice

Pineapple fried rice at $15


After tasting so many ‘Veg Green Curries’ across Singapore, I have to say this was different. It was not loaded with veggies, and I could only notice eggplant in the gravy which was topped off with huge pieces of grilled tofu. So I had a mixed reaction since I am a fan of veggies in Thai curries. The curry was also thinner than usual and it seemed to have no body. Having said that, the taste was mild but flavorful.
Veg Green Curry

Veg Green Curry at $15


They have a variety of sweet dishes – from the standard Thai ones to cakes and ice cream. We ordered the ‘Mango Sticky Rice’ with a lot of hope and it lived up to the expectation. It was presented beautifully and the blue rice made it visually more appealing. Though this dessert also depends highly on the mango season, I would say it is highly recommended.
Mango Sticky rice

Mango Sticky rice at $6


Another interesting item on their menu was the ‘Mango Lassi Ice cream’. It looked delicious and had a great fragrance. Unfortunately, the taste didn’t live up to expectations. It’s good, but not great.
Ice cream

Mango Lassi Ice cream at $3


Though I am normally not a fan of cheesecake, the ‘Nutella Cheesecake’ looked tempting. It’s a well balanced dessert with the richness and sweetness of the Nutella coming through every spoonful. The toppings add a pleasant contrast to the smoothness of the cheesecake.
Cake

Nutella Cheesecake at $7


Since it was a humid evening, we ordered the ‘Thai Pink Milk’. This drink turned out to be absolutely fantastic. Cold and refreshing with the right notes of sweetness – this drink had it all. Recommended.
drink

Thai Pink Milk


On the whole, there was a wait for at least 30 mins for our orders to appear. I feel this can be improved. There can be more vegetarian options on the menu since what they had to offer did have traditional flavours. The desserts are worth trying. If you are in the area and in a mood for eating Thai, then Nung Len is just a stone’s throw away from Little India MRT.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cusine Type: Thai ★★★
Nearest MRT: Little India
Address: 33 Mackenzie Road, Singapore 228686
Timings: Mon-Sat: 10.30am – 10.30pm
Website: https://www.facebook.com/nunglensg/

Fresh Fruits Lab – Kembangan

Nestled in the calm neighborhood of Kembangan is a fun cafe called Fresh Fruits Lab, a laboratory themed joint serving Western cuisine with a fruity twist. And yes, it is as exotic as it sounds – science themed decor with burettes, pipettes, magnifying glasses to read the menu, test tubes and colorful diagrams! We went for a weekend brunch and the restaurant was full! It definitely looks like they have regular customers. They have high tea, a la carte, brunch and even supper menus. It is around a 10 min walk from the MRT but the different dining experience made the travel worthwhile. Also worth mentioning is their periodic table drawn with symbols of fruits which was very innovative and unique.

Fresh fruits lab

Fresh fruits lab


FFL periodic table

FFL periodic table

The Orders
To begin with, they serve complimentary juices filled in test tubes. This helps you try out different flavours and then order according to your preference. Water is served in beakers and juices in conical flasks and thus they stay consistent to their theme.

Welcome drink

Welcome drink


For me, tomato soup is a familiar and beloved comfort food. FFL offers the ‘Roasted Roma Soup’ which is a herbed stew made with Roma tomatoes, zucchini and croutons. The colour was dark and looked like a thicker version of homemade pasta sauce but the taste was good. There was slight sweetness in the soup which was nice.

Roasted Roma soup

Roasted Roma soup at $8


Brunch and pancakes go hand-in-hand. The ‘Fruity Berries’ pancake was fluffy and moist made from a seasonal berry batter. It also had apple compote and strawberries drizzled with maple syrup. The fruity twist along with sizable portions made it a good order.
Fruity berries pancakes

Fruity berries pancakes at $11


For brunch, a ‘Frittata’ works as a ready-to-go egg dish that is somewhere between a quiche and omelette. The folding and flipping technique in the dish made with eggs, potatoes and mushrooms was done in a compact manner. It was served with fruity salad and toasted multigrain buns. Highly recommended. (if you eat eggs)
frittata

Frittata at $15


For a refreshing feel, try any of the fruit juices or sodas from their beverage section. The notable ones are ‘Strawberry Soda’ and Three to Tango which were rightly marked as the Lab Bestsellers. They were bursting with flavour and topped off with real fruits.
Strawberry soda

Strawberry soda at $6


We ordered the ‘Lychee Cake’ to try a unique dessert. The layers were drenched with lychee syrup and it became a sugar overload after a few bits. The texture was almost like a marshmallow and it was a bit too sweet for my liking. They have many cakes on their display counter, so maybe I’ll try something else the next time.
Lychee cake

Lychee cake at $6.5


For the vegetarians, there are some more soup and salad options. The staff are friendly and attend to your needs immediately. They also have ongoing lunch promotions with a menu change every fortnight. For a different dining experience, for chilling out on the weekends, for striking a chemistry with your special someone and for its good food, FFL is worth a visit.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cusine Type: Western ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Kembangan
Address: 351 Changi Road, Lor Mazuki, Singapore 419818
Timings: Tue-Thu: 11am – 10pm ; Fri: 11am – 11pm ; Sat: 10am – 11pm ; Sun: 10am – 10pm
Website: http://www.ffl.com.sg/menu/

Chayote Sabzi / Chow Chow Sabzi

Chayote is a light green, pear-shaped tropical squash with coarse wrinkles and can be used in a variety of preparations. It is a good source of dietary fiber and has Vitamin C in it. Commonly known as chow chow, this ingredient works well in dry as well as gravy based curries. The mild flavour of chayote makes it perfect to take on the addition of spices which seep into it to give an enhanced taste. While peeling chayote, you can apply oil to your palms for ease. Make sure you peel it well, as the outer skin is rough. For those staying in Singapore, chayote is available in NTUC and the other supermarket stores.

Chayote Sabzi

  • Servings: Serves 4 pax
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients :

  • 600-700 gms (2 medium sized) chayote, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1 big onion, finely diced
  • 1-1.5 cups tomato puree (homemade or ready made)
  • 1-2 inches of ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp Kitchen King masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder>
  • 0.5 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp oil

Chayote sabzi

Chayote sabzi / Chow Chow Sabzi


Method:

  • Place a pressure cooker over a medium-low flame and add 2 tbsp of oil to it.
  • Once the oil is warm, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  • Add the onions and cook gently till they are soft, but not browned.
  • Once the onions are soft, add in the tomato puree and cook till the raw smell goes away.
  • Now add coriander, kitchen king and red chilli powders followed by salt and turmeric.
  • Cook covered, stirring occasionally till the mixture thickens and releases oil.
  • Add the chayote pieces and mix well till the pieces are fully coated with the tomato-spice mixture.
  • Add 1 – 2 cups of water (depending on how thick you want the final gravy) and pressure cook for 2 whistles.
  • Switch off the flame and let the cooker cool down.
  • Taste the chayote and gravy and adjust the seasoning.
  • Add garam masala and crushed dried fenugreek leaves.
  • Finally garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Tips:

  • The amount of water you have to add depends on the chayote type you are using as the water content may vary.
  • Do not overcook the chayote as it will turn into mush.

Redpan – Marina Square

When food meets design, you get Redpan, a relatively new restaurant which has opened at Marina Square. Located in the new wing of the mall, the decor of the place is like an upmarket bistro. The restaurant is well-lit and the furnishings are designed in a way that they stand out. The menu focuses on giving Western food a Singaporean twist, throwing a spotlight on local ingredients and familiar flavours.

Redpan

Redpan

The Orders
If made well, a soup serves as a great way to begin any meal. Hence, we right away ordered the ‘Smokey Tomato Soup’ which turned out to be a satisfying dish. The tomato soup served with garlic croutons had an additional depth to it due to the chargrilled effect.

smokey tomato soup

Smokey tomato soup at $7


For the mains, we ordered the ‘Vegetable Lasagna’ for a wholesome dish. The dish was a colorful medley of vegetables like baked pumpkin, grilled eggplant and mushrooms along with tomato sauce and curry bechamel. Going meatless does not mean giving up on flavour and this dish proved its point with its great taste. Highly recommended.
Vegetable lasagna

Vegetable lasagna at $14


One of my go-to pasta dishes to order is the ‘Roasted Vegetable Aglio Olio’ because its a toss and serve kind of dish that spells comfort. This pasta at Redpan could have been better, both in terms of taste and seasoning.
Roasted vegetable aglio olio

Roasted vegetable aglio olio at $12


It is never surprising to see a ‘Portobello Mushroom Burger’ being offered as the sole vegetarian burger option in many restaurants across Singapore. I have always maintained that there should be more varieties tried in this segment for sure. Having said that, the size of a grilled portobello perfectly fits the size of a burger bun and is liked by mushroom lovers. Here, it was served with cheddar and lettuce in toasted ciabatta buns and was a solid rendition of the dish. The fries on the side were addictive!
Portobello mushroom burger

Portobello mushroom burger at $12


The desserts at this place really impressed me and the variety is mindboggling – they have the dessert options listed on the menu and the daily specials displayed on their cake counter. To begin, we ordered the most unique ‘Teh Halia Creme Brulee’ which was a classic dessert infused with ginger and tea. As weird as it sounds to imagine tea in a dessert, this offering incorporating the local milk tea is top-notch as the ginger subtly cuts through the dish and keeps the sweetness of the dessert intact. Highly recommended.
Teh Halia creme brulee

Teh Halia creme brulee at $7


The restaurant nailed it again with yet another impressive creation in the form of ‘Red Date Butter Cake’ which was fragrant and rich. A delicious scoop of vanilla ice cream mounted on a butter cake that rested on a bed of sticky local red dates and caramel sauce was a tempting sight. Worth trying for enjoying a different creation using local flavours.
Red date butter cake

Red date butter cake at $8


If you are looking for cake options, then try the Red Velvet Cake and the Dark Chocolate cake which disappeared from the table in no time. But if you are looking for a refreshing concoction then ‘Roselle Sour Plum Soda’ acts as a perfect match to a delicious meal.
Sour plum soda

Sour plum soda at $5


Considering the overall experience of the meal, the prices at Redpan are very reasonable. For its ambiance, for its experimentation in food offerings and for its exquisite desserts, Redpan is definitely worth a visit!

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cusine Type: Western / Modern Singaporean ★★★★
Nearest MRT: City Hall / Esplanade
Address: 6 Raffles Boulevard, #02-03/04, Marina Square, Singapore 039594
Timings: Mon-Sun: 11am – 10pm
Website: http://redpan.sg/

Barrio by Mexout – 313 Somerset

The ever-bustling 313 Somerset is a favourite hangout place for many who stroll along Orchard Road. The latest entrant in this space with its absolutely hard-to-miss splash of fairy lights and major party vibes is Barrio by Mexout. With Mexican grub being its forte and a solid reputation built with its first outlet at Raffles Place (review can be read here), their ‘Make Salsa Not War’ signage had me looking forward to the meal. As queues thronged (fret not, the queue moves fast!) outside this Mexican beer garden setup, I was impressed with the overall decor, especially the sombrero lamp shades.

Barrio by Mexout

Barrio by Mexout

The Orders
Barrio by Mexout has a variety of Mexican street food offerings along with Mexican beers and margaritas – yes, perfect for an evening vibe! They have an elaborate drinks menu for those who are interested but we stuck to the food menu for this outing.

Barrio food menu

Barrio by Mexout food menu


Few pairings work better than crispy ‘Tortilla Chips and Salsa’ for a Mexican starter. The medium spiced salsa tingled the taste buds without raising the bites to extreme fiery levels. Good to munch, share and revel in the atmosphere.
Tortilla chips with salsa

Tortilla chips with salsa at $4.50


If you are looking for a zesty appetizer that bursts with flavour, look no further than the ‘Stuffed Jalapenos’. This dish is basically crunchy peppers stuffed with chewy cheese and pack a fiery punch in one small bite. And there’s always the refeshing ‘Lime Juice’ to blow off the steam from your palate. Highly recommended.
Stuffed Jalapenos

Stuffed Jalapenos ($8.40 for 4pcs)


Lime Juice

Lime Juice


There are vegetarian options in any form of main dish you choose : wraps, rice bowls, tortas (Mexican burgers) and tacos. We ordered the ‘Vegetables De La Cruz rice bowl’ which was a plate brimming with many ingredients on top of the base layer of rice. The ingredients consist of a delectable mix of black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream that merge and provide ample flavour along with rice to make a pleasurable dish. The guacamole made by mashing up fresh avocado with lime, salt, cilantro, red onions and tomato was delicious and top-notch. We ordered the same dish as a burrito as well, but that became slightly messy to eat.
Vegetables De la cruz

Vegetables De La Cruz at $13.40


Vegetarian burrito

Vegetarian burrito at $13.40


If you enjoy Mexican cuisine and you want to experience authentic taste at affordable prices, then Barrio by Mexout might appeal to you, especially with its convenient location and a smart positioning as a hangout place.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cusine Type: Mexican ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Somerset
Address: 13 Orchard Road, 313 Somerset, #01-14/15, Singapore 238895
Timings: Sun-Thu: 11am – 10.30pm ; Fri-Sat: 11m – 11pm
Website: http://mexout.com/

Potato Okra Stir Fry / Lahsuni Aloo Bhindi Sabzi

Potato and okra are two basic vegetables in Indian cooking that come together beautifully in this dish. The spice powders add heat and complexity and the garlic twist adds a huge amount of flavour to the dish. This simple preparation goes great in lunch boxes and appeals to all ages.

Potato Okra Stir Fry

  • Servings: Serves 4 pax
  • Time: 40 mins
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Ingredients :

  • 800 gms Okra/bhindi, washed and kept to dry for 30 mins and then chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut approximately the same size as okra
  • 10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4-5 dry red chillies
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp oil

lahsuni aloo bhindi

Lahsuni Aloo Bhindi


Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan and let it warm a bit. Then add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add in the cumin seeds.
  • Swirl the pan to spread the oil a bit on the sides of the pan and wait for the cumin seeds to turn slightly brown.
  • Then add the dry red chillies and asafoetida and immediately add the garlic.
  • Addition of garlic

    Addition of garlic

  • When garlic becomes light brown, add in the potatoes. Then add half of turmeric powder and salt required just for the potatoes. Cook through for around 4-5 mins.
  • Addition of potato

    Addition of potato

  • Add the chopped onions and fenugreek seeds and mix them well together. Let the onions cook through till they become soft.
  • After this, add the okra, rest of the turmeric powder and salt. Mix everything well and cook it in open pan. First cook it in high flame and then after 3 mins, keep it on medium low flame.
  • Addition of okra

    Addition of okra

  • When the okra is 90% done, add in the coriander powder and red chilli powder.
  • Spread it evenly across the pan and cook more till the okra turns nicely crisp.
  • Switch off the flame. Goes best with jeera rice and rotis.

Tips:

  • Once you add the okra, keep stirring from time to time to redistribute the veggies – you may get burnt bits otherwise.
  • You can add less garlic if you don’t like the flavour – but I would recommend adding some at least.