Think vegetarian food is boring? Think again.
It takes little effort to find great tasting vegetarian food nowadays, and this is in no small part thanks to one of the most popular cuisines in the world - Indian. While Indian cuisine, like many other cuisines, typically features meats such as chicken and mutton, vegetarian choices are commonly found in most Indian restaurants, both within and outside of India.
India is thought to have the largest number of vegetarians globally. According to a Pew Research Centre survey, close to 40% of the population are estimated to be either vegetarian, or avoiding meat products altogether. Reason for this? Religion. But more on that in another article.
The 110-seater Nalan Restaurant is conveniently located at the basement of Capitol Singapore, along the corridor connecting people between City Hall MRT Station and the ground floor opposite the station. They have been around for more than 12 years now, having spent 6 years at Funan, before moving over to its present location at Capitol Singapore 6 years ago.
A line was already forming outside the restaurant when we arrived around 12 noon on a weekday.
Here for the deals? You will be pleased to know that merewards members enjoy 1-for-1 deals on their Starters ($10), Main Course ($12), and Dessert ($6). With the help of the manager, we ordered some of the must-try dishes at Nalan Restaurant.
1. Starter - Paper Thosai ($9)
Thosai, or dosa as it is called in South India, is a savoury and thin pancake made from a fermented batter consisting mainly of lentil and rice. It is served together with various sauces, such as chutney and sambar to whet up your appetite.
Chutney is a gluten-free and spicy or savoury condiment made from fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices to help highlight a specific flavour profile. Sambar, not to be confused with sambal the chilli paste, is a lentil-based vegetable stew cooked with pigeon pea and tamarind broth. It has long been considered a staple in many South Indian homes.
Nalan Restaurant has an arsenal of 7 different types of chutney, but only 3 flavours are served each day. The 7 flavours are namely Coconut, Onion Tomato, Capsicum, Curry Leaf, Coriander, Mint, and Peanut.
The stars aligned to give us coconut, capsicum and mint chutney on the day we visited. Check out the visuals below.
Ditch your fork and spoon, you are going to need your hands when eating thosai. Break off a small piece, dip it into a chutney of your choice and deliver this work of art into the oval-shaped cavity located below your nose.
Crispy yet chewy, savoury yet sweet and/or spicy (depending on the chutney), we loved how Nalan Restaurant's thosai combined all those flavours to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable munching experience. I found myself thinking about this thosai and the chutney sauces even after a few days, when my mouth was calling out for a snack (both figuratively and literally).
2. Starter - Gobi Manchurian ($16)
We get it, you are trying to ditch meat from your diet but you can't help but crave the meaty umami and chewy texture that meat provides. And that is why you will be thankful for this dish. It looks and tastes the part (latter depending on your level of imagination).
Gobi means cauliflower in Hindi, and Manchurian refers to the sweet, tangy, and spicy sauce used to make this dish. Gobi Manchurian is a popular Indian-Chinese appetizer found in many Indian restaurants. To make this dish, cauliflower is generously coated with a batter and then deep fried. It is then tossed into manchurian sauce to give it a sweet, spicy, and tangy taste.
Other Gobi Manchurian that we have tried elsewhere tend to border on the greasy side, but the one at Nalan was surprisingly not that oily. The batter gave it a chewy texture akin to meat, and the manchurian sauce gives it the umami flavours to complete the transformation.
3. Main - Paneer Butter Masala ($18)
I have always had a soft spot for butter masala, so I knew I had to get myself their Paneer Butter Masala for a taste test. It certainly did not disappoint, much like the appetizers that came before.
Paneer Butter Masala is a rich and creamy curry and like the name suggests, is cooked in butter for that smooth, buttery characteristics. Other ingredients include paneer, tomatoes, spices, onions and cashews. A generous serving of cottage cheese cubes is also added to the curry for extra creaminess.
Nobody eats a butter masala on its own, so we got ourselves a Garlic Naan ($6) to go along. The pungent and spicy flavours of the garlic naan when combined with the smooth creaminess of the butter masala was a, may we say, match made in heaven.
4. Dessert - Carrot Halwa ($8)
A carrot-based sweet pudding originating from Punjab, carrot halwa is made from grated carrots, milk, sugar, ghee, cardamom, and garnished with roasted almonds and cashew. It has a mushy texture with a strong milky taste. The grated nuts provide a good contrast with its savoury taste and crunchy texture.
Personally I found the milk taste to be a little too strong for my liking, but if you are a fan of milk then this will be right up your alley.
Nalan Restaurant stays true to its mission - to serve healthy and honestly vegetarian food to the masses. They have both vegan and vegetarian menus, and their food are all lactose and gluten free.
merewards 1-for-1 Deals
Salivating yet? Remember to flash your merewards app during your next visit to Nalan Restaurant to redeem 1-for-1 deals on Starters, Mains, and Desserts, including the aforementioned dishes!
Address: 13 Stamford Rd, #B2-54 Capitol Singapore, Singapore 178905
Opening Hours: Daily 10am - 10pm
Nearest MRT Station: City Hall MRT Station
This is an independent review brought to you by merewards.