Tantalising Indian cuisine prepared without the use of butter? Trust us, this new restaurant that serves up contemporary North Indian-inspired cuisine is one to watch.
Located along the quieter end of North Canal Road, you might miss D’Bell, a relatively new restaurant that hasn’t officially opened its doors to media tastings. Just as well, because this means you get to check out their scrumptious offerings before it starts to get crowded – and it will!
While the bulk of the menu comprises North Indian-inspired dishes, D’Bell also serves up Western favourites like Sirloin Steak, Wagyu Beef Sliders and Herb Crusted Lamb Chop.
To kick things off, we had Chicken Mulligatawny ($8) and Lobster Bisque ($12). The latter is rich and comes with generous chunks of lobster meat, but for something more unique, opt for the piquant Chicken Mulligatawny. Served with a small bowl of basmati rice, the authentic spicy Indian chicken broth is flavourful and has got quite a kick to it – a highly recommended starter as it whets your appetite for what’s to come.
One of D’Bell’s signature appetisers is Pappadum Cone ($10.80), made up of Pappadum cone filled with tandoori chicken and vegetables. I liked the varied textures of the crispy Pappadum, crunchy vegetables and tender chicken pieces, but thought it lacked a neutral flavour to balance the saltiness of the ingredients.
For mains, must-tries include the offerings served fresh from the tandoor, which includes a wide variety of kebabs and naans. For the health-conscious, you’ll appreciate that the naan dough at D’Bell is made daily from milk, flour and low-fat plain yoghurt. Both Vanessa’s and my favourite was Kashmiri Naan ($8). Stuffed with raisins, nuts, apricots and India-imported rose petal powder, the sweet naan goes amazingly well with curry – and tastes just as lovely on its own. (“The Kashmiri Naan is eyeballs-roll-to-the-back-of-your-head good!” Vanessa moaned.) If you prefer your naans savoury, try Chilli Cheese Naan ($8), which is stuffed with a mouthwatering combo of mozzarella and cheddar.
The Tandoori Fish Nazakat ($22) – butter fish cubes marinated in yoghurt, cardamom and fennel for up to four hours before going into the tandoor – was another of Vanessa’s and my top pick. The smoked tandoor flavour and the spiced marinade evenly permeate the fresh fish, bringing out its subtle sweetness.
For curries, try Goan Prawn Masala ($22). The Goan masala sauce is rich, robust and makes for the perfect accompaniment to the soft and fluffy naan. Alternatively, you can never go wrong with Chicken Tikka Masala ($18), made up of tandoor chicken cubes in masala sauce.
The distinctive strong flavours of Indian cuisine are apparent in its desserts as well. The Mango Kulfi ($7.50) – Indian ice cream prepared with Alphonso mango – is the safer choice for those of you who do not have a sweet tooth. The ice cream is refreshing and rich without being cloying, while the pistachio nuts hidden inside add a nice crunch to it.
After a scrumptious meal, adjourn to D’Bell’s bar and VIP lounge on the second floor for signature cocktails like Masala Punch ($20) – a concoction of house Bourbon and homemade masala mix – and Golden Moment ($20) – a refreshing blend of vodka, fresh mango and passion fruit with a hint of kaffir lime and chilli.
I will definitely be heading back soon for another round of satisfying North Indian cuisine. They evidently don’t scrimp on the spices, but at the same time they practice quality control to ensure the aromatic flavouring doesn’t overpower your taste buds.
D’Bell is located at 43 North Canal Road, Tel: 6536 4046. Opening hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri, 11.30am-2.30pm. Dinner: Mon-Thurs, 6pm-11pm; Fri-Sat, 6pm-12am. Closed on Sundays.
Material World was invited for a tasting at D’Bell and was not paid for this review. All opinions are the author’s own.
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.