Ridge gourd and Taro Leaves Curry/ Turiya Patra Sabzi

Cooking on weekends is therapeutic for me as I get the time to experiment with new dishes. Last weekend while grocery shopping, I found taro leaves at Mustafa and decided to pick them up to make Alu Vadi. Alu Vadi is an Indian snack made with stuffed and rolled taro leaves. It is usually eaten at tea time and is common in Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine. I, however, wanted to make something for lunch and decided to go the gravy/curry route by combining taro leaves with ridge gourd. I remember eating ‘Turiya Patra nu Shaak’ at my Gujarati neighbour’s house in India, and could place the flavour profile between spicy and tangy. As daunting as it sounded to start this preparation from scratch, I gave it a go and the result was pleasantly surprising. Patience is key to nailing this dish successfully.

Ridge gourd and Taro Leaves Curry

  • Servings: Serves 4-5 pax
  • Time: 60 mins
  • Difficulty: High
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Main Ingredients :

  • 1 packet of taro leaves (12-15 leaves)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
  • 2 ridge gourd, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp finely cut green chillies
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for gram flour paste:

  • 1.5 cups gram flour/besan
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp crushed jaggery
  • 2 tbsp seedless tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander for garnish (optional)

Ridge gourd and taro leaves curry

Ridge gourd and taro leaves curry


  • Wash the taro leaves thoroughly in running water and set them aside. Ensure that the leaves are fresh. Wipe them with a cloth until they are dry. Cut off the stalks from the base of the leaves.
  • Washed taro leaves

    Washed taro leaves

  • Mix all the ingredients mentioned in the preparation of the gram flour paste in a bowl. The paste has to be slightly thick for easy application on the leaves.
  • Place the leaves with the vein side facing downwards and the tip facing towards you. Gently apply the gram flour paste all over the leaf surface. Now place a leaf with the tip in the opposite direction and create an alternate stack of leaves, applying the paste on each alternate surface. Keep a minimum of 8 leaves to make a roll.
  • Spreading of gram flour paste on taro leaves

    Spreading of gram flour paste on taro leaves

  • After the paste is applied on 8 leaves placed alternately facing on top of each other, roll the stack into a neat and tight pattern horizontally.
  • Rolling of leaves

    Rolling of leaves

  • Then cut this rolled leaf into 2 or 3 pieces depending on the length of the rolled leaf stack.
  • Now heat oil in a non-stick pan and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the cut ridge gourd pieces to it. Add the rolled taro leaves to the pan at the same time.
  • Cut ridge gourd pieces

    Cut ridge gourd pieces

  • Do not stir too much after placing the leaves as they might tear. Shake the pan (do not use a ladle) generously to mix the ingredients.
  • Next, add ginger-garlic paste and green chillies and mix well. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10 mins on a medium flame.
  • If the gravy is too thick, add a bit of warm water to help cook the leaves. This also helps in not letting the ingredients stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add turmeric powder, salt, cumin and coriander powder when you add water. Keep checking the gravy consistency because gram flour has a tendency to absorb water.
  • Cooking of the curry

    Cooking of the curry

  • Keep checking in between to ensure that the taro leaves are turning tender. Try breaking the leaves with a spoon. If they break easily, add the garam masala powder and stir well. After 2 mins, switch off the pan. Cook it in pan without lid at this stage.
  • Finally add the coriander garnish and serve hot with rotis, naans or rice.


  • Take your time while making the rolls. Work slowly but consistently – do not let the paste dry on the leaves.
  • Keep the gram flour paste on the thicker side – it’s easy to take a little in a smaller vessel and thin it as required.
  • Ensure that the taro leaves as well as the stuffing are fully cooked before serving.

Cicheti – Kandahar Street

There is no dearth of Italian restaurants in Singapore. And making the Kampong Glam area cooler with its hipster vibes and quirky decor is Cicheti located in the bustling Kandahar Street. It is a two-storey shophouse bedecked with oak tables and warm lights. For large groups, it is better to hit the second floor for privacy and it is recommended that you make advance reservations. And if you are really looking for the weekend vibes, then the rooftop patio is ideal.

The Orders
For the appetizers, we ordered the ‘Onion and Garlic Flatbread’ for a light start to the meal. The advantage of Italian flatbreads is that their surface gives room for toppings and dips to be spread on them easily. The Cicheti version was very good with the dip enhancing the taste.

Onion and garlic flatbread

Onion and garlic flatbread at $7

The menu contains a plethora of options in the form of 10 inch Napoletana pizzas lovingly made in their wood-fired ovens. For vegetarians, the restaurant was open to customization. We ordered the ‘Pollo Pizza’ without the chicken. The pizzas were nicely charred with the wood-fired spots on the crust looking perfect. The almond pesto acted as the perfect base to the greens and onions and every bite was savored with delight.
Pollo Pizza

Pollo Pizza at $25

For the cheese lovers, the ‘Quattro Formaggi’ is worth trying. The traditional four cheese pizza contained a winning combination of parmesan, gorgonzola, ricotta and fior de latte and aided in bringing a creamy lusciousness to every bite.
Quattro Formaggi

Quattro Formaggi at $22

The pastas are handmade and we tried the ‘Gnocchi’. The earthy flavour of mushrooms blended with the creaminess of ricotta cheese and was decent but not something to rave about. Personally, I missed a pasta with veggies as an option on their menu.

Gnocchi at $26

One of the most interesting desserts was the ‘Panna Cotta with Rhubarb garnish’ with its perfect texture. The rhubarb gave a fresh flourish to creaminess the base and was extremely tasty.
Panna cotta with rhubarb granita

Panna cotta with rhubarb granita at $12.5

Filled with cocoa crumble and almond paste, the ‘Crack Pie’ was rich and dense. The vanilla ice cream served alongside was just nice to make this whole dessert come together.
Crack pie

Crack pie at $12.5

The ‘Warm chocolate cake’ was a safe dessert and pretty standard fare. The chocolate lovers will like it.
Warm molten chocolate cake

Warm molten chocolate cake at $12.5

You can’t go to an Italian joint and not order the ‘Tiramisu’. This version was soft and creamy with a very smooth finish.

Tiramisu at $12.5

For its wood-fired pizzas, for its good service and for celebrating special occasions or just catching up with friends, Cicheti is worth a visit.

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cusine Type: Italian ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Bugis
Address: 52 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198901
Timings: Mon-Fri: 12pm – 2.30pm , 6.30pm – 10.30pm ; Sat: 6pm – 10.30pm
Website: http://www.cicheti.com/

Yantra Restaurant – Temple Food Festival

Food and Indian festivals go hand-in-hand. During the auspicious season of Navratri, the Indian fine-dining restaurant, Yantra has launched a ‘Temple Food Festival’. This event will continue till Oct 10th 2016 and is available only for dinner. Located in Tanglin Mall, this restaurant is a well-known name to people staying in Singapore and food festivals here always catch my attention. Helmed by Chef Hemant Oberoi, the restaurant is serving wholesome Indian plates (thalis) from four distinct regions in India during this festive season. The thalis being served are: 1) Golden Temple Thali (Punjab in North India) 2) Tirupati Balaji Temple (Andhra Pradesh in South India) 3) Jagannath Puri Temple (Orissa in East India) 4) Nathdwara Temple ( Rajasthan in West). The diversity in Indian cuisines is projected in a balanced manner via this food festival. According to Hindu tradition, temple food is termed ‘prasad’ (offerings to God) and hence this festival is fully vegetarian.

The Orders
Punjabi food is my weakness and it was a no-brainer for me to order the ‘Golden Temple Thali’ from Amritsar. But before I get started on the food items, let me just say that visiting the Golden Temple is an experience in itself. I am glad that I had the privilege to visit this Sikh temple. Many articles term it as the world’s largest free kitchen with their langars (canteen) serving almost 100,000 visitors everyday. But what amazed me during my visit was the amazing and generous spirit of the volunteers who relentlessly work to make you feel at home.

Coming back to Yantra’s thali, it had the standard items of Punjabi cuisine. Punjabi cuisine is so much about the authenticity of taste that there were many hits and few misses in the thali. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Kali Mirch Papad’ for its slight kick of spice, ‘Pakode Waali Kadi’ for the marinated fritters to have fully absorbed the flavour of kadi, ‘Aloo aur achar waali sabzi’ for the gravy style potato dish made well and ‘Langar wali dal’ which is a treat of lentils. If you are a fan of Dahi Bhalle (Vadas soaked in yogurt), then you will like it – but this is the slightly sweeter version. What disappointed me was the ‘Chole’ as it did not hit the right notes for me. This is a spot-on thaali with bhatura, garlic naan and rotis as the breads served on the side.

Golden Temple Thali

Golden Temple Thali

The beautiful state of Rajasthan in India needs no introduction. And one of the famous temples near Udaipur is the Shrinathji Mandir. Mainly known for their saatvic tradition in terms of food at this temple, Rajasthani influence was amply evident in their cooking style.
Our next order was the ‘Nathdwara Temple Thali’ and we were quite eager to try it. Noteworthy dishes were: ‘Aloo Methi’ as the potatoes has captured the right flavour of fenugreek leaves, ‘GawarFalli’ which was long cluster beans done to perfection,’Dal Baati’ which was quite good, ‘Chokki Patta Gobi’ which was tasty cabbage cooked in Indian spices. The vegetable variety and the overall balance of sweet and savory dishes made this thali interesting for me.
Nathwara Temple Thali

Nathdwara Temple Thali

Save the best for last, especially if we are talking about Indian desserts. The ‘Kulfi’ is a part of Golden Temple Thali and is extremely delicious. Its a denser and creamier version of ice-cream and was well-flavored with cardamom.


‘Basundi’ is thick sweetened milk that is flavored with cardamom or saffron and garnished with nuts like pistachios. It was interesting to try it with Lapsi which is basically broken wheat. And also served alongside was ‘Aate Ka Halwa’ and this was a part of Nathdwara Temple Thali. The basundi was overly sweet for my liking.
Basundi and Lapsi

Basundi and Lapsi

On the whole, if you want to experience the authentic taste of vegetarian food from different states in India, this is worth it. Priced at $49++ per plate, it was good for the experience and ambience. And what better way to work out a weekend appetite!

In a Nutshell Deelightful Rating
Cusine Type: Indian vegetarian ★★★1/2
Nearest MRT: Orchard
Address: 163 Tanglin Rd, #01-28 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 247933
Timings: Till Oct 10th 2016, only for dinner
Website: http://www.yantra.com.sg/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Temple-Food-Festival-2016-Menu.pdf

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


  • 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.


  • 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.

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.

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 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


  • 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.


  • 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.