Vatan Se

For those of you who love Indian cuisine, I found a little gem at Tangjong Rhu recently. Vatan Se is pretty remote and secluded but I love the simple home cooked concept that insists on the freshest ingredients and no artificial coloring or MSG. This is the closest you’ll get to home cooked Indian food without having to cook it yourself.

The interior feels homely and by 7pm the place fills up with regular customers whom the owner has build close relations with. It’s the sort of place where you exchange small banters about what’s going on in your life while waiting for food to be served.

I was really tickled by the comics I saw on the restaurant walls. It reflected the cultural aspects of India so well and in such a witty manner. If you go Vatan Se, remember to look out for them.

I started off my meal with a mango lassi (S$4) and it was delicious. Everything here is made from scratch to ensure quality food with no preservatives of any sort is served. They try to find a healthy alternative to every single dish that they cook just as what you would do if you cooked them yourself.

For example, if they had to dye their cooked onions red to make it more appealing, they’ll use beetroot juice instead of coloring to achieve the required color. It’s such a rarity these days that restaurants pay so much attention to the authenticity and freshness of their foods.

The Papadum with mint sauce was the first to arrive while we waited for our main dishes to be cooked. The mint sauce is a refreshing accompaniment to the papadum.

If you are looking for a healthy meal, you can just order the Chicken Kebab Roomali Wrap (S$12). It’s filling, easy to eat and very healthy since it contains chicken breast with lots of vegetables. They have a mutton or vegetarian version as well if you prefer. Unlike most wraps you buy elsewhere, the roomali wrap is extremely fresh and fragrant. Most of the time when I eat wraps (be it from fast food joints or restaurants), I don’t actually find a distinctive smell or taste associated with the outer wrap but this one has and it really enhances the whole dish. I was told that the reason why the wrap is so soft and fragrant is because it is made fresh unlike most other places that uses pre-packed factory made wraps. Thus, its best to consume it while its fresh, before it loses that quality.

Raj Kachori Chaat (S$6) is the most famous street food in Jaipur. I’m both amazed and intrigued that they have brought famous Indian street food into their menu and I think it’s a great idea. I love street food but my weak stomach can’t really handle those road side carts in India so I’m glad I get to try them at Vatan Se. Chaat is basically a deep fried dough which is hollow. They then break the top and filled it with various ingredients. The different ingredients gives the chaat multiple combinations and tastes. The next time I visit Vatan Se, I’ll be interested to try out the Samosa Chaat which is basically samosa ingredients in a chaat.

Moving on to other dishes, we had a platter of varying Tandoor dishes. Tandoor is a cylindrical clay oven used in cooking and baking traditional Indian dishes. The tandoor design is something of a transitional form between a makeshift earth oven and the horizontal-plan masonry oven. Food cooked in Tandoor is more delicious than using a normal grilled oven because the meat is smoked by the fats and juices that drips to the bottom of the oven, giving it a richer flavor.

The Achari Fish Tikka (S$12 for full portion) is a must try for fish lovers. It is a unique pickled flavor tandoori fish which balances the proportion of  spices with lemon juice perfectly. We also had a couple of different boneless chicken marinated in different ways. Tandoori chicken (S$14 for half chicken) is a popular dish in most Indian restaurants. The chicken is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with the spice mixture tandoori masala. A lot of restaurants uses red or yellow coloring to achieve its distinct color but at Vatan Se, Cayenne pepper is used to give it a fiery red hue because they believe in doing everything the natural way.

My favorite of the tandoor cooked dishes is the Malai Chicken Tikka (S$14). The boneless chicken chunks are marinated in cream and cashew sauce before grilling in the tandoor. Although the color is not as stunning as the Tandoori Chicken, the taste and spices in this dish is in no way lacking.

The last Tandoor dish I tired was the Mutton Seekh Kabab (S$12). All mutton dishes in Vatan Se uses goat mutton which is more authentic to Indian cuisine instead of lamb mutton. Goat mutton is more costly in Singapore but knowing customers will appreciate it better.

I ordered simple garlic naan (S$3.50) to accompany the next few main dishes I am going to try out.

Each of the dishes, are cooked in specially hand crafted and brought in from India, copper pots.

It’s really heavy! But the material, rounded bottom and the traditional shape of the pot all ensures that the food will be evenly slow cooked to perfection and increases the flavor of the dishes.

Even catered food from Vatan Se is served in these special pots and dishes so it looks much prettier that your usual catering layout.

Back to my food, I had the all time favorite Butter Chicken (S$14). This classical Indian dish originates from Punjab, India. The chicken is first grilled in the tandoor before adding it to the sauce. I love the combination of butter chicken with naan and if you are not adventurous when it comes to food or want something non-spicy, butter chicken is probably your best bet.

Keemar Mata (S$14) is another must order dish for me whenever I have naan. This one is made with goat mutton which I much prefer over those from sheep. Nutritionally, goat meat is healthier than sheep mutton as it is lower in fat and cholesterol, and comparable to chicken. It also has more minerals than chicken, and is lower in total and saturated fats than other meats. One reason for the leanness is that goats do not accumulate fat deposits or “marbling” in their muscles.

For vegetarians, Vatan Se has quite a huge selection as well. The Zeera Aloo ( S$6) is potato cooked with cumin seeds. Potato has always been a comfort food for me and this simple dish has such a warm home cooked feel.

I found Vatan Se home made paneer to be really good. In case you are not familiar, Paneer is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese. Vatan Se makes their own Paneer and the result is a mild tofu like texture cheese that absorbs whatever flavor, sauces or spices you cook it with. I tried the paneer in 2 different styles – Karahi Paneer (S$11) and the Palak Paneer (S$11). The Karahi Paneer is simmered with a spicy tomato based curry sauce. This dish is filled with texture and flavor and the cottage cheese pieces can be seen distinctively because the sauce is very thick for this semi-dry dish.

The Palak Paneer on the other hand, is cooked in a mild spinach gravy and cream. The pureed spinach makes a lovely combination with the paneer and I’ll highly recommend it for vegetarians or if you want a dish to break up all the more hot and spicy curries you’ve ordered.

At this point we ordered more drinks! Kingfisher beer is available and if you want to drink wines, you can BYO.

I had a Thumbs Up which is under the coca cola company. It tastes just like Coke but more carbonated.

After trying so many authentic dishes, I was surprise to see that they also had chinese dishes in their menu. But these are non-authentic chinese dishes (it’s an Indian restaurant after all). The chinese dishes are the type of chinese dishes that are found in India. Chinese cuisine is very popular in India and many Indians eat chinese food the moment they land back in India. But because the Indian cuisine is so heavily reliant on spices, its only natural that the chinese cuisine in India adopted that and infused it with their dishes. I was keen to try some authentic India styled Chinese dishes.

The simple Chicken Chowmien (S$9) is delicious! Every mouthful is filled with intense flavors and I’m amazed how they could cook such mouthwatering noodles without using any MSG, artificial flavoring or enhancers. This is going to be my favorite noodle take-away!

We also tried the Chilli Chicken (S$12). This was only average in my opinion as I had expected it to be spicier. I was told that it could be arrange if I had informed the chef earlier of my preference as they can cater all their dishes to the chilli level required by their customers.

Finally it was time for the desserts.

Paneer is such a versatile ingredient and it can even be found in desserts. Ras Malai (S$5.50) is a simple mixture of panner with cream, sugar and saffron. The flavor is  very delicate and light so its great for those who are avoiding a heavy dessert.

I ordered the Gulab Jamun (S$4.50) even though I was pre-warned that the restaurant has yet to perfect the recipe for this dessert because it’s my favorite Indian dessert and I just don’t feel complete ending my meal in an Indian restaurant without having it. The dessert wasn’t as bad as some other places I’ve tried but it wasn’t fantastic either. I can’t wait to try it again when they finally perfect this recipe.

The final dessert I tried is the Moong Daal Halwa (S$6). It was my first time trying this classic dessert that is relished throughout Rajasthan. In India, it is often prepared during the cold winter months, as it is supposed to keep you warm in the bitter nights. It is considered to be auspicious for Holi and Diwali and it even features on wedding menus. Despite the simple appearance, this dessert takes a long time and lot of patience as you have to sauté the dal. It’s an extremely savory dessert but I enjoy the rich cashew taste and the overall texture.

Just as I was  about finished with my desserts, I was introduced to Pann (S$2) which was also a type of dessert. This unique dessert takes the form of a betel leaf filled with a mixture of chopped or coarsely ground areca nuts and other spices in a special sauce. In India, they eat this wrapped with tabacco and it reminds me greatly of the betel nut wraps that are sold in Taiwan. I took a small bite and found it somewhat palatable but it is still pretty much an acquired taste.

It was an incredible meal and I was throughly satisfied. More importantly, I truly believe in the “cooked like home” concept that Vatan Se is trying to uphold. They even have a special unique service where you can upload your own secret home recipe to Vatan Se’s website and they will cook it for you according to your instructions. I think it’s a brilliant idea and great for those who miss the food that their parents, grandparents make but just can’t find the time or the technical expertise to make it themselves. India is such a huge country and there are endless possibilites of dishes there so if you try something that you like but can never find a restaurant that serves it in Singapore, now you can just submit your request to Vatan Se and they’ll cook it for you.

Vatan Se

Costa Rhu Clubhouse,
7 Rhu Cross, Singapore 437435
Tel: 64404644

If you drive, just head on in because car park inside the estate is free for public as well. Those living in the area can call for delivery.


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