CHEAP, GOOD & HEALTHY
For healthier North Indian food that is affordably priced yet sumptuous, head to Masala Tandoor in a coffee shop at Marine Parade Central.
Owner and chef Rashid Sheik, 60, serves a Vegetarian Chapati Set that is endorsed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
Priced at $5, the set offers value for money, with two freshly made chapati and four side dishes served on an Indian thali plate. The presentation is enticing enough to catch the attention of another customer, who approaches me to ask what I am eating as she wants to order the same.
The set carries HPB's Healthier Choice Symbol and Lower In Calories label. To qualify for this nutritional label, a dish has to have 500kcal or less. To put this in context, a typical dine-out meal is about 700 to 800kcal. The recommended daily energy intake is 2,200kcal on average for men and 1,800kcal on average for women.
Mr Sheik uses wholemeal flour to make the chapati from scratch, without any ghee, oil or butter. He rolls the dough into thin flat rounds, cooking them in a cast-iron skillet only when customers place their orders.
As he has only his wife to help him run the stall, be prepared to wait for your chapati. He says the best times to order chapati are around 10am or after 2pm, when the stall is less busy.
The hot toasty chapati are beautifully soft and go well with the side dishes, especially the Daal Fried of yellow lentils stewed to a lovely creaminess. The gravy is tart with tomatoes and richly flavoured with black mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chilli and a little heat from dried red chilli.
Where: 01-654 Hua Hua Eating House, Block 81 Marine Parade Central
Open: 8am to 10pm
Resist the urge to mop up the daal with the chapatis because the other side dishes are worth savouring too. The dishes are prepared daily by Mr Sheik, who is a stickler for freshness.
The Bindi Do Piaza (okra and onion curry) is aromatic with spices, but not fiery hot. The okra is well- roasted, resulting in minimal slime and maximum flavour.
Plain-tasting vegetables undergo a successful makeover in the Aloo Gobi, a dish of spiced potato and cauliflower. The dish is fragrant with cumin, ground coriander and kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), which has a distinctive bittersweet taste.
A simple salad of sliced cucumber, carrot and onion with a dressing of chat masala and lemon juice rounds off the meal.