Zurna

If you love North Indian fare, Zurna is the place to go. Located along the East Coast Road stretch, the sister restaurant of Fifth Season, Zurna has two menus – a fusion menu that is identical to Fifth Season and an additional traditional North Indian menu, giving you over 200 dishes to choose from. The Indian menu specializes in rare traditional dishes you won’t be able to find anywhere else in Singapore. The restaurant also prides itself on using only natural ingredients; no artificial colours, no flavouring. Every dish there has a historical and cultural significance, embodied in the careful selection of ingredients and meticulous effort that Zurna puts into cooking and preparation.

 

  • The Vibe 
    Zurna’s name is derived from the Arabic flute surnay, commonly used in Egyptian festivals. Restaurant owner, Deepali Ray, believes that there should be “festivities everyday”. Hence, even the simplest things in life, such as food and music, give you occasion to celebrate. Dining at Zurna is a natural, homely and unpretentious affair. The décor is neither modern nor traditional, neither contemporary nor Baroque. It is Indian and delightful in its simplicity.
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  • The Food 
    The highlight of Zurna’s traditional Indian menu is the dumpukht selection. All the food here, comprising of rice, vegetables and meat, is steamed for about 12 hours. The Murg MusallumSpecial ($290) is a dumpukht set that includes the Murg Musallum (4 or 5 stuffed whole chickens, fit for 10 people), saffron rice, salad, raita (yoghurt) and a sweet dessert called phirni. The chicken, which is a dish on its own, is stuffed with rice and keema (minced mutton), marinated for a day, then steamed. The result is extremely tender, juicy and flavourful chicken and mutton – the taste of the meat is concentrated and contained within the dish. To add even more flavour to the dish, more keema is poured over the chicken right before you eat it. Because of the dish’s tedious preparation, you need to order it two days in advance.

    Another unique dish is the Daab Chingri, or prawns in fresh coconut ($19.90). True to its name, the coconut is really fresh. Literally. The prawns are steamed inside the coconut, with coconut water instead of oil. The whole coconut is then served. Soaked in thin, delicious coconut gravy, this dish is surprisingly refreshing and a little sweet because of prawn juices. The intense cooking also makes the taste of coconut penetrate deep into the prawns – the sweetness of prawns and coconuts blend smoothly together to create a lip-smacking dish.

    Other prawn dishes include Zurna’s Weekend Special, the Tandoori Jhinga or jumbo prawns.Tandoori Jhinga is subject to the price and availability of prawns; only the freshest will be used. Grilled in the tandoor (charcoal oven), the prawns are crispy on the outside but succulent on the inside. Alternatively, try the Chingry Macher Malai Curry ($17.90), a coconut-based prawn curry that increases in spiciness as you eat it.

    One of Zurna’s signature cuisines is its traditional Bengali food, which comprise mainly of fish dishes that the region is famous for. The Macher Paturi ($16.90), fish fillet marinated with mustard, is extremely pungent with mustard, coconut and vinegar – definitely an acquired taste. The Fish Kasundi ($14) is also cooked with mustard, but in curry gravy. Try this dish with the Butter Naan ($2.90), a delicious two-layered Indian bread coated with butter.

    There is a wide vegetarian selection as well, ranging from tandoori to curry selections. Sample the Phirdosi Aloo ($12.90), a tandoori -baked  stuffed potato coated with sesame seeds, which has a piercing, spicy taste because of the chopped green chillies. For vegetable curry, try thePaneer Pasinda ($15.90), home-made cottage cheese in gravy of cashew nuts, boiled onions and yoghurt. Slightly sour and very refreshing, this is one vegetable dish you can’t miss.

    Zurna’s signature dessert is the Pati Shapta ($6.90), crepe stuffed with coconut shavings in rich, milky, coconut syrup. Pati Shapta is very rich but not as sweet as most Indian desserts. And of course, Zurna serves the popular Gulab Jamun ($4.90). Their rendition is soft and absorbs the syrup easily.

  • The Service 
    The service is exemplary. Upon ordering, you are served pappad (crackers) with dips of mint and mango chutney, as well as fresh onions. The service crew does not merely top up water for you, but also helps you open doors. You are given clean plates and cutlery at regular intervals, and are always greeted with a beam.

The SD Food Advisor’s Take on Zurna
Zurna serves the best Indian food I have tasted in Singapore. While the food may appear costly, the quality far surpasses the prices. That Zurna uses natural ingredients is obvious from the taste of the food and drinks.

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