|Facade of Pind Balluchi at Clarke Quay|
If the crowd of Indian diners at new-to-Singapore Pind Balluchi is an accurate barometer for quality of cuisine, then this Harry’s Group-operated Clarke Quay newbie is off to quite a roaring start.
|The private room at Pind Balluchi|
Dressed in a smart-swanky style with rough-cut stonewalls and full glass frontage, Pind Balluchi is part bar and part restaurant. Besides a roomy 54-seat main dining room (that includes a 10-seat private dining room), the eatery also features a 30-seat lounge with plush couches and a 16-seat outdoor patio where patrons may comfortably knock back a glass of bespoke cocktail or a bottle of Indian wine whilst grazing on Indian-inspired bar bites.
Opened since 29 August 2013, Pind Balluchi doles out North-West frontier food, a carnivorous confluence of Pakistani and Punjabi fare headlined by slow-grilled meats marinated in a mélange of spices and the meats’ own juices. Not to be confused with the butter and cream-heavy dishes of North India (some of which are also featured on the menu), frontier food relies on intense spice marinating and slow cooking.
Perhaps most exemplary of Pind Balucchi’s frontier fare is the bhatti chicken (S$24), chunks of boneless chicken steeped overnight in black peppercorns, garam masala and workhorses from the Indian pantry (think garlic, ginger and the works), then grilled in a tandoori oven to yield tender and succulent morsels.
Pathar kebab (S$26), a Hyderabad specialty, is another signature. First hand-beaten, then marinated in raw papaya paste and a blend of herbs and spices, the lamb patties are cooked over a charcoal-heated granite stone until incredibly delicate to the palate, its flavour not masked but amplified by the concoction of spices.
Galouti kebab (S$28) is a ‘must order’ for lamb lovers although its texture may take some getting used to. The lamb pattie is hand-minced 32 times until completely devoid of texture, then flavoured with 136 spices. Served on naan-like crepe, the grilled meat is so soft that it practically melts in the mouth.
While grilled meats are the mainstays at Pind Balluchi, don’t overlook the vegetarian menu. The skewered chunks of tandoori-roasted broccoli (S$24/S$34) impresses with its smoky tang underscored by a faint but steady hint of yoghurt, Kashmiri chilli and royal caraway that it’s marinated in.
Also order the smoked aubergine bharta (S$27) from the vegetable – not vegetarian – menu. Best to go with butter naan (S$9), the eggplant gleans its rich flavours from its buddies of garlic, tomatoes, onions and turmeric.
What’s a good Indian meal without saucy curries? Pind Balucchi’s prawn masala (S$36) arrives with succulent prawns basking in a thick broth enriched with a delicious clutter of vegetables. Yes, the vegetables do rob the broth of some of its crustacean flavour but a re-order is still merited (for our next visit).
As with most restaurants, there are pockets of imperfection.
Paneer tikka (S$20), a grilled Indian cottage cheese, arrive with barely a hint of flavour – much like under-seasoned toufu – despite the beautiful crown of spring onion puree-marinade.
Perfectly plump and succulent tandoori prawns (S$30) fall short of glory with nary a taste of the yellow chilli, yoghurt or Kashmiri saffron that the crustaceans were marinated in.
And while we have no qualms with the rich and spicy flavours of the fish tikka (S$24), the yellow tail fish’ dry and flaky texture is sub-optimal.
Not many Indian restaurants serve good desserts. Thankfully, Pind Balluchi does – it’s mandatory to conclude with a bowl of the excellent mango phirni (S$14), a puree of alphonso mango and date with cream and powdered rice topped with a dust of ground Iranian pistachios.
Pind Balluchi | 3B River Valley Road, #01-15 Clarke Quay | 65-6337 7350 | www.pindballuchi.com.sg
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© Evelyn Chen 2013
Please note that the reviews published in this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.