Going to an Indian vegetarian restaurant can be a problem for me because I am illiterate to the menu, especially those without diagrams. However, after the last visit and reading up a bit about the cuisine, I am feeling more at ease when dining at these places. Founded in 1965 in India, Raj landed on the Singapore island in 1988, serving Indian vegetarian food from ....North, South East West of India??? (the website says so)
Before you start navigating through the menu, it is good to have some Papadam (5 at $1.80) to silence the growling stomachs. After all, everyone may also need some time to decipher the long list of food, especially when the menu at Raj is more extensive than Ananda Bhavan. So, the million-dollar question is : What to order?
Well, the simplest step is to pick any items from the Dosai list. For instance, this Butter Marsala Dosai ($4.70) is a good set that will fill up any average adult. Its a typical triangular crepe filled with potatoes chunks, tomatoes cooked down to a mash. They come with the three chutneys-mint, tomato and coconut.
Alternatively, go for the plain-flavoured ones like Sada Dosai ($2.90), Paper Thosai ($3.80-pic above), Garlic naan ($3.20-pic below) and choose from the array of vegetarian curry pots for dipping. The paper thosai is suitable for those who like it crisp but it is also more greasy to the touch. Ours came as shiny as a bald man's head that reflected the dining lights very well.
Our first dip was Palak paneer ($10), a familiar North Indian dish that consists cubes of home-made cottage cheese immerged in rich spinach puree. It had the smoothest texture out of the 3 and received the most number of thumbs-up at the table. But it should be consumed in moderation as it was extremely savory. Alternatively, there is the Dhal Butter Fry ($7.50) which had a slightly tangy flavor imparted by the spices in the pool of simmered lentil gravy.
The chef's specialty--Soya Keemar Mattar ($10), was a delectable pool of minced tofu and green peas (mattar) in an aromatic semi-solid gravy. It had a thicker consistency than the dhal butter but was less salty. The dhals were all tasty, but we underestimated the sizes of the dhals curry and still ended up with at least half a pot.
In order not to contribute to the amount of food Singaporeans are wasting each year, we ordered more sada dosai and also the above Sadam Uthappam ($3.30), a thicker version of dosai. Imagine tu-tu kueh minus the filling. One experiences a sharper tang even though both Uthappam and Dosai are made from fermented batter of rice and lentils.
And I am proud to say that all the food were 100% polished off at this farewell class dinner=D The slight hiccups in the service did not deter the mood as everyone chatted merrily into the night. While Indian vegetarian cuisine may not be the cup of tea for everyone, I believe it was a good cultural experience. Should you be interested to try out, Raj is a good and affordable place to begin with!
20 Biopolis Way, #01-03 Centros Block
( 5 min walk from Buona Vista MRT)
Daily: 11am to 10pm
(another branch at Syed Alwi Road)
Visit : http://www.rajrestaurant.com.sg/ for full menu and outlet details