Mention Indian cuisine and it conjures up images of rich, aromatic curries, fiery orange chunks of tandoori items and sweet, sweet desserts. Those who love their Indian food will swear nothing tantalises quite like the rich, spicy flavours of South Asian dishes.
From the Mughal-style cuisine of the North to the spicier and coconut-laced specialities of the South, a delectable buffet feast awaits at five of our favourite Indian restaurants. The naan and roti are baked in the tandoor only upon ordering, so that you can enjoy the Indian breads piping hot.
Vegetarians aren’t left out and have a mouth-watering variety to choose from. Chaat lovers can also get ready to chomp away as some of these restaurants serve chaats (Indian street side snacks) as part of the buffet.
#01-28/33 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road
Available: Mon to Thurs: 12pm-3pm
The buzz: An uber chic fine dining restaurant that looks even more beautiful in the evening when the dim lighting and tea lights come on. Their a la carte dishes are pricey (a plate of kebabs start from $30), so you wouldn’t expect their weekday lunch buffets to be very wallet-friendly. We were wrong. Their lunch buffet from Mondays to Thursdays is a real steal at $18 while Friday’s and Saturday’s is at $25 (with a spread of 25 dishes and includes beverages!)
What’s special: For just $18, you get quite a variety of Northern Indian-style vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes including two kinds of soups, starters, tandoori items, main courses, biryani and desserts.
Lest you think it’s the usual North Indian suspects, the buffet surprises you with unique items such as the Ab-e-Hayat (literally translated as “water of heaven”), a light vegetable soup cooked in coconut water and tandoori chaat (a melange of veggies and fresh fruit such as apples, guava, bell peppers and tomatoes coated in tandoori spices and roasted).
If you love tandoori meats, you’ll relish the chicken malai kebab – moist, chunky boneless pieces coated in a cheese marinade. Special mention must be made of the dum biryani (one veg and one meat) – the aromatic and fluffy rice is presented in huge brass pots with a layer of flour covering the top to seal in the saffron- and spice-rich flavours. Very addictive, and don’t say we didn’t warn you!
We know how notoriously sweet Indian desserts are, but Yantra’s two offerings on the buffet table are worth a try. The suji halwa and rice kheer are rich and satisfying without being too sweet.
Rang MahalBEST NAAN & DESSERTS
Level 3, Pan Pacific Singapore
Available: Mon-Fri: 12pm-2.30pm
The buzz: First opened in 1971 at the old Imperial Hotel, Rang Mahal is the oldest fine-dining Indian restaurant in Singapore. Since its move to Pan Pacific Hotel in 1998, it has been constantly reinventing itself – be it the interior or the menu. With its contemporary Indian-inspired interior awash in neutral tones and ambient lighting, Rang Mahal ranks as one of the most beautiful restaurants in town.
What’s special: The lunch buffet ($45) has a starters section with some of the most refreshing salads and fancy canapes you’ll find at an Indian restaurant. There’s blueberry raita (yoghurt), apple chaat (cubed apples tossed in chaat masala and tamarind sauce), khandavi (steamed gram flour rolls stuffed with fresh coconut) and cheesey bharwan mushrooms (stuffed with paneer, roasted in tandoor and lightly coated in golden breadcrumbs).
The main courses are a good mix of vegetarian and meat dishes. There’s paneer makhani (cottage cheese in a butter chicken-like gravy) and lauki kofta curry (bottle gourd dumpling in tomato gravy), and instead of the usual mutton or chicken kebab, Rang Mahal had a very yummy prawn version on the day we visited.
We can also say without hesitation that their naan is the best we’ve tried. Plain, garlic or butter, the naan is baked to perfection, slightly crisp at the base yet fluffy and soft inside. The desserts department is also a droolsome spread, featuring traditional Indian sweets with a twist. There are masala brownies with a soft hint of spices, strawberry shrikand (a creamy yoghurt concoction) and classics such as mango barfi (a type of milk candy), gulab jamun and chena pyaas (small balls of milk dumplings).
Basement 1, Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre
11 Cavenagh Road
Available: every Sunday: 12pm-2.30pm
The buzz: This smallish basement restaurant has been a fixture of the hotel since 1985 and is among the stalwarts of the Indian fine-dining restaurant scene. Classical sitar music plays in the background, which adds to the authentic experience of dining here.
What’s special: Their Sunday lunch buffet ($42) is a wide spread of classical Northern Indian faves such as chicken tikka (boneless pieces of tandoor-bake chicken), chicken dum biryani (presented in a gargantuan brass pot!) and mutton keema masala (minced mutton). The vegetarian options are excellent, with four to five varieties ranging from palak paneer (cottage cheese with spinach) to gobi (cauliflower) masala and Punjabi kadhi pakodi (mixed veg dumplings in a creamy yoghurt sauce)
We also gravitated towards the chaat corner where a chef was on hand to dish out a selection of Indian street food such as pani puri (a fried hollow crisp filled with ingredients such as potatoes, chickpeas or beans with tamarind water) and papri chaat (crispy crackers garnished with an addictive combo of potatoes, chickpeas, spices and chutneys, and drenched in yoghurt). Another “live” station is the South Indian corner with its array of dosais (plain, filled with potatoes or in a cone shape). There are also at least two types of South Indian snacks like vadai on display. It’s quite a spread at this one, so come hungry Sunday afternoon.
B1-020 Suntec City Mall
Available: Daily: 11.30am-3pm
The buzz: Before Bombay Cafe opened here, Little India would be the place diners headed to if they wanted to eat Indian vegetarian fare. Its flagship outlet sprouted up in Tanjong Katong area some years ago, creating quite a buzz with its fuchsia pink interior, huge Bollywood posters, Hindi music videos and of course, its wide array of Northern Indian vegetarian fare including popular street side snacks.
What’s special: Its Xpress outlet offers vegetarian lunch buffets daily ($16.90) and dinner buffets ($18.90, Fri, Sat & Sun). Dig into Indian comfort vegetarian fare such as channa dhal (chickpeas curry), baigan (eggplant) masala and paneer butter masala (the cottage cheese is specially imported from India and has a soft, melt-in-the-mouth texture). There’s also a smattering of Indian-style Chinese food such as fried rice and mixed vegetables in garlic sauce – both are interesting takes on Chinese food, but we’d rather go with the Indian dishses.
Help yourself to as much as you want from the buffet table, but don’t forget to save space for the chaat. You can choose two varieties, which come free-flow. There’s bhel puri (puff rice tossed in onions, tomatoes, coriander and masala spices), papri chaat (blanketed in smooth yoghurt) and pani puri.
Even if you’re no fan of Indian desserts, you should sample some of Bombay Cafe’s homemade sweets such as gulab jamun and ras malai (spongy discs of milk dumplings soaked in saffron-laced cream).
3 Belilios Road #01-03, Hotel Grand Chancellor
Available: Mon to Fri: 12pm-3.30pm
The buzz: From its humble origins as a roadside stall, Kailash Parbat in Mumbai is the place to go for some of the best lip-smacking chaats. The Singapore branch opened about a year ago in Little India and has an extensive fully vegetarian menu offering Northern and Southern Indian specialities including Sindhi delights (which you can’t get elsewhere) and the famous grilled vegetarian sandwich from Bombay (known as “college sandwich” and so named because it started outside a university college in Mumbai).
What’s special: Its lunch buffet is priced very affordably at $12.90. On the starters section are five types of chutneys and a different variety of raita (yoghurt) served everyday. The buffet includes chaats of course – there are two different kinds offered daily and they are prepped a la minute. The papri chaat, swathed in thick sweetish yoghurt, is one of the house favourites. The eat-all-you-can also offers two other mini starters served at your table. On the day of our visit, we had the tandoori cheese balls and baby corn masala.
The main courses in the buffet lineup may not be extensive but there’s enough variety to go with the pulao (Indian-style rice) and hot-off-the-tandoor naan and roti. Its popular chickpeas curry is also part of the daily spread. Kailash is an ideal place to visit if you’re looking for a satisfying Indian vegetarian buffet at a pocket-friendly price.
Also check out the following two buffet recommendations!
What better way to satisfy this big appetite of ours than to binge at a great eat-all-you-can buffet? No wonder buffets are so popular among Singaporeans. The restaurants know that—thus the variety of hearty buffets for the many different ethnicities and varieties. Here's a definitive guide to the 5 best all-you-can-eat bonanzas!
High tea buffets these days are a veritable spread, covering everything from Asian, Western and local mains (there's even Middle Eastern!) to traditional tea goodies such as freshly baked scones, finger sandwiches, canapes and whole luscious cakes. The more luxurious high tea buffets even feature traditional roasts and a variety of hot dishes cooked a la minute. Enough said. Here, we tea-off at the best five places for a leisurely late afternoon feast.