If even my mom can say that the food was really good, and her friend said it was “the best lunch I’ve had”, then I think you can take it that Punjab Grill at Marina Bay Sands is good.
From the ambience to the service to the food, you will notice little touches that will leave you feeling like a Maharajah/Maharani who has dined really well!
Most foodies can happily rattle off Chicken Tikka Masala (ironically, born in Great Britain, not India!), Tandoori meats, Aloo Gobi (Potato and Cauliflower), Palak Paneer (Cheese and Spinach) when they think of North Indian cuisine but let’s dive a little deeper into the Northwestern frontier of India.
This is home of Punjab – land of warriors, as my hubby and I like to tease our Sikh friends. Okay, before I get accused of spreading misinformation:
- The “undivided” Northwest region is made up of a Pakistani Punjab and an Indian Punjab. It’s noted that Lahore is the provincial capital of Punjab while the state capital of Indian Punjab is Chandigarh. And Indian Punjab is recognized as a majority Sikh state.
- Why do we jokingly say that it’s the land of warriors? Well, traditionally, Sikhs adhere to the 5Ks – Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (a steel bracelet), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kaccha (cotton underwear) and Kirpan (steel sword). And it’s the last K that inspires the “warrior” thoughts in our heads – it symbolizes readiness to protect and defend against injustice and persecution.
By the way, Punjab also gave birth to a very popular dance style – Bhangra!
But back to the food. Actually, a lot of the North Indian food that we know of is derived from Punjab. This includes Tandoori, Naan, Paneer (cheese).
So it’s no surprise to see these items represented at Punjab Grill. What makes me rave about the restaurant though is the deft use of spices that results in a heady mix of flavours, sometimes subtle, sometimes robust. You might just be tempted to google spices as you eat to try and identify each element!
I love the selection of appetizers on the lunch menu ($45++ 3-course). There’s a sundried tomato and pickle paste marinated chicken tikka which unlike the popular orange-hued, creamy chicken tikka you find at most North Indian restaurants, shows off a subtle sour tinge thanks to the marinade.
A minced lamb meat ball stuffed with masala cheddar cheese, covered in a Kashmiri rogan sauce is so rich and decadent, I loved it.
Then it’s an indian-style fish (without the chips) with a crisp, mustard-oil fried batter, that envelopes the carrom seed flavoured fish. Carrom seeds brings me memories of my childhood. These seeds (same family as cumin, fennel) are often distilled to create “omum” water – which is often given to children who have tummy problems. Not to say adults can’t have it – it helps with flatulence and indigestion. Which probably explains why at the end of the very heavy lunch, none of us felt bloated or sick the way you do after over-eating.
Mains were delicious – along with a basket of fluffy garlic/butter naan and rice, we were served a coconut-creamy fish curry and a tandoor-grilled chicken in a masala that had just the right amount of spice and sweetness thanks to the caramelization of the onions used in the gravy.
Dal (lentil-based dish) is not one of my favourites, but the one here? Oh yum! The roasted garlic and brown onion add such a lovely smoky taste to a dish that I normally consider rather bland.
By now, you should be almost bursting at the seams, well you would be if you kept munching on the papadum and accompanying delicious chutneys they give you, but take your time and get ready for dessert!
The selection changes, but on the day we were there, we had a gulab jamun, phirni and paan ice cream. Let’s start with the refreshing dessert – paan ice cream. Paan reminds me of indian movies where I see old, Indian men chewing the betel nut leaf and spitting them out with such ferocity that the pavement is dotted with red stains. None of that spitting here at Punjab Grill. The smooth ice cream is simultaneously refreshing and slightly aniseedy (paan is also recognized as a digestive and a breath freshener) and a good “palate cleanser” in preparation for the other sweeter desserts on hand.
Phirni – another familiar childhood dish. I remember my dad’s friend making pots of this ground rice, almond, milk, cardamom, saffron and sugar pudding and although from a young age, I had never been a fan of Indian (or Asian desserts, for that matter), I didn’t mind this that much. Well, we ate it probably only once a year, so that helped. Still, as an adult, understanding much more about the gentle balance of spices, I can appreciate this not-too-sweet and smooth version at Punjab Grill.
Finally, Gulab Jamun. If you do visit Punjab Grill, and you’re faced with the same selection, or basically, if there’s a gulab jamun in front of you, eat that last or you will not be able to taste the sweetness of the other dishes!
Literally translated to mean Rose (Gulab) Berries (Jamun), these milk and flour dumplings are usually fried in ghee and then soaked in a sweet, rose-scented sugar syrup for about 1-2 hours, hence making them uber-indulgent and very sweet. The trick is to just eat the balls, and not slurp the sugar syrup with it. Unless you love sugar, then go ahead with the sugar syrup slurping!
So, for all the above and for being treated like a king/queen, I’d definitely say the $45++ tag is a steal!
Address: B1-01A, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, South Podium, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018972
Contact: 66887395 or Info@punjabgrill.com.sg
Lunch: 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Dinner: 6:30 PM to 11:00 PM