Melt Cafe @ Mandarin Oriental Singapore : Flavors of India 2016

Indian cuisine is definitely more than just Roti Prata and Curry. As a person who grows up with Bollywood movies and briyanis, palek paneer, butter chicken and mango lassi for my family dine-out, I was excited to learn about the Flavors of India buffet

This is a 2-week showcase of Indian cuisine by Indian Specialty Chef Santosh Kumar that has returned to Melt Cafe from now till 31 May 2016 after the previous successful run in October last year 

Don't be overwhelmed by the wide selection as you will rarely go wrong with what you get. If you expecting some fiery spicy stuff that would make you sweat throughout your meal, then you would be totally wrong as this is not the style of Thai or Sichuan cuisine. Spices here are balanced with care and would not overwhelm those who have a low threshold of chillis. After all, Indian cuisine is an art of herbs and spices and goes loud on the colors and aroma. 

There is a wide variety of meat and vegetable curries, paired with an assortment of naan flatbreads which includes tantalizing flavors such as garlic, butter, olive and cheese. From the rich and creamy 7 nuts lentils curry (a buttery mix of lentils cooked for more than 10 hours, flecked with cilantro and intensified by the faint heat of dried chilies) to the Spicy and Sour Prawn Curry or the unique Eggplant and Peanut Curry, everything is there except fish head curry, butter chicken or palek paneer. As much as it is a feast for the senses, this is truly a feast for the mind; an enriching culinary journey into the heart of Indian cuisine. 
Look out for the Lamb Chop Adreki, a superbly delicious meat that is marinated with gram marsala, yogurt, mint and saffron. So tender that it literally slid off the bone and you won't even think that it is lamb. 

The Lamb Briyani is another masterful display of love and labour after nearly an entire of day of preparation work from marinating to slow-cooking them until the meat juices fully permeates the fluffy rice grains. Other highlights from the LIVE kebab section includes pickled tandoori fish or boneless chicken leg murg haryali kebab topped with mint, cheese and yoghurt but I think the lamb is truly the show stopper. 

But that's not the end. Tucked at one corner is a makeshift food stall like those you often seen alongside the streets of India. But it doesn't serve Kachang Putih. The stall serves a very tasty Mumbai street food called Bombay Belhpuri. Like the Chinese rojak, puffed rice is tossed with ingredients like onion, potatoes, fried "maggi Mee" strands with a special in-house concocted chutney that resembles a sweet sambal sauce. 

Another of my favourite dish or probably appetizer, was the Pani Puri, also known as Golgappa. Puri refers to the crispy semolina ball that is hollowed out at the push of a thumb, before you pour in the "Pani", the green shot of tamarind chutney and pop it into your mouth. The shell cracks and the juices explode in your mouth. Sweet, salty and sour, this is a very interesting and likeable dish which I love and highly recommend. 

To round off the meal, check out the three Indian desserts that are truly sugary enough to beat the heavy flavors. The Kesri Rasgulla is described as "dumpling with light syrup", but be warned that this sugar sponge ball can send you on sugar high instantly. Think a lower-calorie version of gulab jamun. 

I preferred the Rasmalai, cheese balls in sweet milk, as well as the Apricot Pudding, a traditional Hyderabad dessert that is perfumed with the scents of cardamon. While there are other regular desserts to satisfy the sweet tooth, I felt that the area on Indian desserts can be further developed to go beyond just three petit verrines. 

Nonetheless,this is a good opportunity to savour Indian cuisine for Indian or non-Indian food lovers alike. If you have any doubts about any of the dish, fret not as the knowledgable chefs and station masters will be happy to share more about the dishes. 

Flavors of India @ Melt Cafe 
16 to 31 May 2016 
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
5 Raffles Ave, Marina Square, S039797
Lunch buffet S$62++ (Monday to Saturday), 
Dinner buffet S$78++ (Sun-Wed)/ S$88++ (Thur-Sat, inclusive of barbecue selections) 
To reserve, email or call +65 6885 3500