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Breezy chic Indian dining
Earl of Hindh
#01-16 Quayside Isle, 31 Ocean Way, Sentosa Cove
Tel 6681 6694
Open 12-10.30pm (Tue-Sun)
JUDGING solely on appearances, Earl of Hindh isn't at all your typical Indian restaurant.
iPad menus list photographs of meticulously plated curries, leather sofas and barrels of whisky by the bar make the space feel a bit like a drinking den in someone's private home. The breezy, open-air space overlooking the berthed yachts in Sentosa Cove transport one to the glitzy shores of Monaco or to a laid-back seaside wharf in Australia - or anywhere but India.
And that's just how the five friends - Ravi Kiran Sethi, Hemant Rangeen, Aarti Ahuja and Subha Vilasni - behind three-month-old Earl of Hindh like it. Bound by their love of food, the group found lacking a place where they could have traditional, fine Indian food and personalised service but in a non-conventional setting.
Modern veneers aside, however, flavours are as traditional as they can get at Earl of Hindh, Mr Sethi disclaims.
New Delhi-born head chef Jaswant Singh Negi is a recent import from India, where he has worked with luxury hotel chains in India such as the Taj, Radisson and Ambassador group of hotels. He most recently helped to open Punjab Grill in New Delhi.
In keeping with the restaurant's name, the menu is a throwback to the Indian cuisine during the British reign, when Indian maharajas hosted some of the most lavish feasts showcasing exotic dishes, according to Mr Sethi. He elaborates: "The art of fine Indian cooking has disappeared over the years and one of the aims of Earl of Hindh is to revive the aromas, flavours and art of royal cooking."
The grilled starters - cooked in two openly displayed tandoori ovens - are the restaurant's main highlights. The signature Earl of Hindh Kakori ($44) is a must-try: the melt-in-your-mouth kebab of finely minced lamb is marinated with 26 spices and chargrilled on a skewer along with a sprinkle of saffron, while the murgh malai kabab ($28) has chunks of tandoor-grilled boneless chicken thigh sheathed in creamy cheese sauce.
Also very tasty is the desi hara kebab ($22), or delightfully fluffy pancakes made of spinach and chan dal and stuffed with cottage cheese before being panfried. From the range of curries, the kadhai paneer ($21) stands out for its blend of cottage cheese cubes, tomatoes, onion and bell pepper, while the maa ki dal makhanwali ($18) is a melange of black lentils, kidney beans and tomato sauce.
Looking for more international flavour? Dishes such as the dariyai tikka ($32) features yoghurt-marinated cubes of salmon chargrilled in the tandoor, or the khumb makai pala ($18) which combines button mushrooms, American corn and spinach in a curry being a refreshing, cosmopolitan lift to the menu.
Classic desserts such as the Jamun-e-Gulab ($16) get a new look too. They come served on a stick rather than in a bowl of rose-scented sugar syrup, because "usually no one drinks the syrup anyway" says chef Negi. The Aam Tukda ($17) is a plated popsicle of frozen mango and milk puree.
The restaurant additionally carries over 18 types of premium single malt whisky, predominantly in single cask, cask strength and non-chill filtered editions and mostly from Scotland, with a handful of labels from leading Indian distillery Amrut being the exception.
On the blueprint are whisky and Indian food pairing dinners conducted by whisky experts in partnership with alcohol distributor Whisky World Singapore,
And though the restaurant is just over three months old, the five partners hint that they are already working on a second concept. Watch this space for more.