When it comes to enjoying a good spread of Indian cuisine, one would hardly imagine Marina Bay Sands as the place to be at. However, 4 year old Punjab Grill helmed by Chef Javed Ahamad is one exception to the rule. Traditional Indian dishes is only part of the main fare offered at the restaurant, with the other being a complex offering of contemporary Indian haute cuisine. At its heart, the restaurant features dishes that are from the Northwest region such as Lahore, Peshwar, Rawalpindi, Kabul, Amritsar, Multan and Patiala. With exciting, robust flavours paired with an imaginative blend of the occasional Western ingredient, Punjab Grill is a restaurant well worth visiting to satisfy your modern Indian cuisine craving.
When I first stepped into Punjab Grill, what greeted me was an almost extensive use of glass within the lighting set up. From the three chandeliers adorning the ceiling at the far end of the room, to the rows of glass beads within the restaurant’s main dining area, the setting surely set the tone right for a restaurant with a modern appeal. Punjab Grill, opened for 4 years
Thandai- a festive and traditional North Indian drink that is usually served on special occasions.
Saffron and pistachio lassi. Thick and flavorful with a wonderful blend of mango sweetness coupled with the flavours of a light sour yogurt.
Lunch for me today was an assortment of dishes from Chef’s regular menu and items in the Royal 10 course meal. I started off with the Amuse Bouche of Lassi Bubble and Potato Tikki. The lassi bubble carried a light, acidic flavour, wonderfully bounded in a thin and tight skin. With the first bite, the flavours simply burst in a medley of sweet and sour freshness. The potato tikki on the other hand was crisp, warm and light – nicely paired with the topping of spiced, creamy sauce.
This was probably one of the best ways in which I had Foie Gras served to me. Served spiced with chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, tumeric and semolina, the foie gras paired with a piece of naan bread was spectacle for the tastebuds. The fatty flavours were made pronounced in this delightful presentation, and the spices distinctly cut through the richness while retaining the overall decadence of the dish. Mango chutney and mint yogurt by the side also adds a degree of new dimensions to the overall flavour. While the mango chutney balances the dish with its sweet, fruity sugars, the mint yogurt cleanses the tastebuds with its tart flavours.
The next dish of Masala papad was Chef’s way of re-imagining how the traditional papad could be enjoyed. Servings of chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, masala and chilli spice were wrapped in a toasted papad, and encouraged to enjoy the dish with a big, first bite. Most distinct for the dish is the heat well embedded within the vegetable stuffing, emerging only at the end and deeply kicking a degree of hotness throughout the mouth.
The next portion served up to me was a dish of Smoked Salmon tikka. Marinated with a ginger garlic paste and cooked with dijon mustard in a tandoori, the salmon tikka was then touched up with a layer of savoury seafood foam. I found the salmon to by well grilled, a touch creamy and layered with spices on the top and pronounced with oil salmon goodness within. The foam, however, blended intimately with the fish, and not standing out apart from being a visual contrast. The side of Chilean sea bass was a little confusing for me as the main dish was truly the salmon and not the serving of deep fried fish fillet.
I was amazed and taken aback by this serving of Gilawat kebab. Made with minced lamb, a minimum of 28 spices added with pure homemade butter and smoked with charcoal and then pan seared, each portion of Gilawat Kebab was divine to say the least. While each chef has their own recipe in recreating this dish fit for the royals, this particular one by Chef Javed is simply melt in the mouth. Also known as Galouti kebab, this ancient dish was exceptionally creamy. The spices emerge in waves – from the initial tender savouriness to a layer of heat and then a lasting impression of umami. A most impressive dish that demands to be savoured and is a pinnacle of flavour and texture.
Up next was a dish of Seafood pilaf. Tender sea bass and prawns were cooked with homemade butter and saffron, producing a seafood cream that was delightfully flavorful. Immersed with a delicate hint of heat and spice, the cream deeply flavoured the rice, making this a dish that was both decadent and mouth watering.
Palate cleanser of raw mango pulp sorbet made with black salt.
For our final main course, Chef prepared an assortment of dishes to sample. There were three types of breads – the pudhina prata (made of dry mint and whole wheat), the garlic naan and the plain naan. Served alongside a bowl of Dahl makhni, this overnight black dahl was savoury and rich to the palate. Cream, with a subtle flavour backed with grounded earthiness from the tomato puree, cream and cashew nut paste, it went very well with the bread selection. Rounding up the entire dish was a portion of hearty butter chicken served on quiche. A simple, yet innovative way to enjoy a very familiar dish, I thought the crumbly tart added an element of contrasting texture that made the usually hearty dish into a delicate portion that is worth remembering.
For desserts, Chef prepared a spread. There were chocolate minced tarts, gastronomic strawberry tarts, and an individual portion of Green apple and chocolate mousse, layered generously. My favourite had to go to the Green apple and chocolate mousse, and in particular the crushed almonds at the bottom. Still, while I enjoyed the textural play, with a wide range of flavours from the sweet and tart, the heavier and slightly oily green apple mousse proved to be tiring after a first few bites.
Me and Chef Javed
Simply said, I am impressed with Punjab Grill. The range of dishes presented for the lunch was excellent, and a certain level of finesse was apparent in the grills, combination of ingredients and the ability to bring out depths in flavour. While I did not particularly take to the selection of desserts, I would come back for dishes like the Butter Chicken, Seafood Pilaf, and of course, the Gilawat Kebab. For guests who are interested in savouring a range of flavours, opt for the special 10 course Royal Tasting Menu ($190++). Or for something a little quicker over lunch, their weekday power lunch sets start at $45++. Pricey, but potentially worth the experience.
Thank you Punjab Grill for the invitation.
|Punjab Grill by Jiggs Kalra|
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sandsd
2 Bayfront Avenue
Reservations: 6688 7395
Lunch 1130am to 3pm
Dinner 6.30pm to 11pmButter