Little India in Singapore traces its roots back to the 1800’s, set up by Indians initially bought to Singapore to work in rubber or other agricultural industries by the British Raj, many chose to stay and since then, many more have followed their path here to Singapore in search of work and a new life.
Around 6.5% of Singapore’s population is ethnic Indian and the majority of those are from south India. Today, Little India is an Indian food fans heaven! Restaurant after restaurant lines the streets, intermingling with spice shops, hawker centres (where you can have a meal for under $3) Jothi flower garland sellers, intricate Indian temples and more.
Khansama stands out as one of the few North Indian restaurants on the main Serangoon Road stretch of Little India. A modest restaurant with a handful of street side tables and a 50/60 seater restaurant located up a small staircase above their kitchen.
I have eaten at Khansama on many occasions over the past month, whilst I enjoy the more common south Indian cuisine, I also enjoy the richer flavours of North Indian cooking as well. Baingan Bhartha is a Punjabi aubergine curry dish, made from roasted, mashed aubergines (Bhartha meaning mashed) traditionally made from charcoal roasted aubergines it has a lovely, smoked flavour and Khansama does this dish well.
Chana Palak, a vegetarian side dish of lightly spiced spinach and chickpeas was also a great dish, the spinach in this instance had an almost silky feel as it had been pureed along with the tomatoes and spices which worked really well against the crunch of the chickpeas. Alongside these dishes I tried Rumali Roti or “handkerchief bread” a thin bread that resembles a folded handkerchief and is a speciality of northern India and Pakistan.
Khansama has a couple of pages listing their breads and a visit would not be complete without trying at least one. On my last visit, I ordered roasted pappadams with tamarind and mint sauces, followed by Tandoori pomfret and a garlic naan. The pomfret was beautifully cooked and spiced and served with a crunchy cabbage salad. I hadn’t planned on ordering naan but the waiter recommended I did, the staff at Khansama always try to upsell but in fairness to them, every time they do so I end up enjoying something I would not have ordered without their gentle push.
As I have never really tried Indian desserts, I thought I would try the Gajjar Halwa which is a dish made of grated carrots, sugar, pistachios, almonds, raisins and milk spiced with cardamom. It was incredibly sweet and I only managed a few spoonfuls but the texture was intriguing and I am keen to try other Indian desserts after sampling this.
If you are in Little India I would really recommend you try Khansama and do take the waiters advice, they really do know what they are talking about!