North Indian Food in Singapore
If you find yourself craving for some warm fluffy naan to go along with your creamy butter chicken, you’ll realise that the appreciation for North Indian food is vast and ever growing here in Singapore. However, how many of us actually know how staple North Indian dishes are made and what food is put on the table in a North Indian household?
As North Indian cuisine makes up a significant part of the menu at The Mango Tree Indian Coastal Restaurant, we hope this article will help to provide some food for thought whenever you indulge in some mouthwatering North Indian delights.
Which states make up North India?
North India is a large region consisting of many big states, such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, as well as New Delhi. Being the region of India that is closest to neighbouring countries, such as Nepal and Pakistan, North Indian cuisine is influenced by Middle Eastern food, while staying true to the traditional style of cooking and the inclusion of a myriad of spices.
North Indian Food Culture: The Love for Wheat
Although rice is a staple food throughout India, there is a significantly higher consumption of wheat in North India as compared to the other regions. While the warm and humid conditions make for excellent rice yields in the Southern states, the cooler temperatures in certain regions in the North make for ideal wheat cultivation, with states such as Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana contributing the highest wheat production in the country.
Such climatic conditions, coupled with a middle eastern influence, has made Indian breads, such as Naan and Chapati, a necessity on the dinner tables in North Indian households.
Popular North Indian Dishes
Naan serves as the perfect accompaniment
Before we talk about curries, let us give a special mention to one of North India’s most loved bread - the Naan. No North Indian meal is complete without Naan - a flour flatbread cooked to crisp yet doughy perfection in a big cylindrical clay oven, known as the Tandoor.
Naan serves as the perfect accompaniment to all North Indian dishes as its fluffy texture soaks up the gravy from curries while its subtle smoky flavour also makes it a great pairing with dry dishes, such as tandoori chicken. Many variations of Naan exist, the most popular being Butter Naan, Garlic Naan and Cheese Naan. Though The Mango Tree Indian Coastal Restaurant serves up some authentic Naan fresh from the tandoor, we couldn't resist dabbling in some experimental cooking and adding our own version of Mango Naan to our menu. Though not as authentic as the rest of the Naan flavours we offer, this sweet treat appeals to the palates of most children and foodies who like to pair sweet with savoury flavours.
#2. Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)
Arguably the best curry to dip your Naan into; Butter Chicken, otherwise known as Murg Makhani is a creamy tomato-based curry filled with juicy chunks of boneless chicken. Not to be confused with Chicken Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken is a thick bright orangey red coloured curry consisting mainly of tomato puree, butter, cream, garam masala and tender pieces of chicken.
Do not be intimidated by the fiery red colour of the curry as the colour primarily comes from tomato puree, with only a dash of chilli powder, which is quickly balanced with a generous addition of thick cream. Thus, the Makhani gravy is a much loved favourite among children and adults alike.
#3. Mutton Rogan Josh
Mutton Rogan Josh is a piquant Kashmiri staple. Easily recognisable by its compelling red curry, it gets its colour from the glorious Kashmiri Mirch (a special blend of medium hot quality Red Peppers).
Despite its fiery appearance, the seeds of the Kashmiri Mirch are mostly removed and some variations of the dish even have curd added in to tone down the spice level. Nonetheless, Mutton Rogan Josh is considered a spicy gravy with heaps of exotic spices (cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves) with a punch of flavour from freshly grounded ginger garlic paste as its base. We recommend soaking up the gravy with some Garlic Naan to further enhance the flavour profile for this robust dish.
#4. Tandoori Chicken
If you are a meat lover and have not sunk your teeth into some succulent tandoori chicken, you are missing out! The chicken is first marinated in curd and a tapestry of spices, such as cayenne pepper, which gives the meat its signature bold red colour. The marination penetrates the meat and makes it much more tender than the average roasted chicken. The chicken then sweats in a hot Tandoor, giving it a distinctive smoky flavour and a gorgeous charred exterior.
Squeeze a wedge of Indian lime over Tandoori Chicken for some added zest and tuck in! Here’s a tip, skip the cutlery as Tandoori Chicken is best enjoyed with your bare hands.
If you have never come across paneer, you might mistake the silky white cubes in an Indian curry as tofu. However, though similar in appearance, paneer is very much different in production and taste as compared to the former.
Paneer is a non-melting fresh cheese rich in flavour and is a versatile ingredient that is loved by both vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Some popular dishes that include this fresh cheese are Paneer Makhani (paneer in creamy tomato gravy) and Paneer Palak (paneer in spinach blend gravy). Interestingly, unlike most variations of cheese, paneer does not melt, allowing the dense cubes to be skewered and cooked in a tandoor at high temperatures. This dry but flavourful dish is known as Paneer Tikka.
North Indian Food at The Mango Tree
Whether you are a meat lover craving for some Tandoori Chicken or Adhraki Panja (tandoori lamb chops) or a vegetarian looking for some Yellow Dal or Paneer Palak to accompany your Naan, The Mango Tree Indian Coastal Restaurant includes the best of North Indian cuisine. Come dine with us to taste a little piece of India in Singapore.