We rarely go out for South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, etc.) food. One, because we’ve been spoiled by decades of stellar home cooking by family and friends. There is nothing in the world that is better than my mother’s egg curry or her biryani or my mother-in-law’s appam or her dosa. And two, it’s much tastier, cheaper, and healthier to whip a simple South Asian meal at home. We use the freshest ingredients and the best spices when we cook in our own kitchen.
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Having said that, every once in a while, we’re too busy or lazy to make a meal at home. Our recommendations (so far) for South Asian food on the Little Red Dot:
Kailash Parbat. My mother often visited this restaurant’s flagship outlet in South Bombay when she was a child. While Kailash Parbat serves a variety of different cuisines, including “Indian Chinese” (a post for another time), it’s the only restaurant we know of, here or elsewhere, to serve authentic Sindhi delicacies. I trace my ancestry to Sindh, in present-day Pakistan, and grew up eating Sindhi curry (a gram flour-based vegetable curry), sai bhaji (yellow split peas, split green gram, and a combination of green vegetables), and loli/koki (a thick flatbread made with ghee). Kailash Parbat is comfort food for me. Don’t forget to sample the samosa chaat and the paani puri, hollow puris filled with water, tamarind, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion, and chickpeas, if you go.
Murugan’s Idli Shop. The idlis, South Indian steamed rice cakes, here are divine and perhaps some of the best I have ever tasted, save for my mother-in-law’s, of course. Go for breakfast—it opens at 9AM—and make sure you order the ghee onion uttapam, a thick rice pancake, and the filter coffee.
Annalakshmi. This “restaurant” is run by volunteers and has a pay as you wish policy. We went one Sunday morning for an all-you-can-eat buffet, shared a table with two lovely, older, chatty gentlemen, and ate and ate and ate. FYI, your donation helps fund the activities of the Temple of Fine Arts.
Bismillah Biryani Restaurant. OK, so I said that nothing is better than my mother’s biryani, but the dum biryani at Bismillah’s is pretty darn close. The rice alone is perfect. Vegetarians, order the egg biryani to get your carb-and-protein fix; omnivores, opt for the mutton over the chicken, so says my infinitely better half.
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Singapore-based friends, where else should we go for fresh, authentic, homestyle South Asian food? For better or worse, we have high standards for South Asian food, but we know there is a lot of good Subcontinental food to be had on this tiny island.
BTW, if you ever find yourself in New York City, make time for a meal at Sigiri, Devi, Tamarind, Tiffin Wallah, Ayurveda Cafe, Bhojan, Saravanaas, Brick Lane, and Graffiti (Manhattan); Skyway Diner (Brooklyn); Bownie and Southern Spice (Queens); and New Asha and Sanrasa (Staten Island), among others.
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Oh, my thoughts on Indian-Singaporean cuisine to come. So many dishes we’ve discovered here—briyani (spelled differently), fish head curry, roti John, murtabak, prata—are so unique to this part of the world. We’ve just begun to understand their histories and flavors.