Kashmir on 52 Racecourse Road

13 02 2013
CNY 2013 - Kashmir_11_Laksa

A mélange of greens – fresh coriander and laksa leaves mostly – which I asked for to sprinkle over each portion of saffron basmati rice.

“LAMB, CHICKEN, fish, and then the other things.  That’s enough.  That’s enough.”  With that succinctness that were the words of Luigi, our dinner spread at KASHMIR on 52 Racecourse Road in Little India was decided.

It was the evening of the first day of the New Lunar Year and I got invited to dinner with the Italians.  Besides Kuya and Michele, also present were Luigi and Alberto, Kuya’s childhood friend from over 25 years back when they were but kids carousing and horsing around in Milazzo.

These were all grownup men sharing dinner, but it was refreshing to see that none of the child-like playfulness was lost with the years.  With one look, or one word, Kuya and Alberto would be reduced to those kids in Milazzo, hitting each other in jest and letting loose a slew of Italian that was both music and cursing to my ears.  In a playful manner, I have to reiterate.

So even when I was really the odd man out at that table for five, I didn’t feel at all odd or left out.  It was just like having dinner with family or really close friends.

CNY 2013 - Kashmir_05_Group

Alberto, ready to playfully hit his unsuspecting childhood friend of over 25 years, (Kuya) Michele. There was a lot of child-like playfulness and joking around at this dinner table. It was a lot of fun!


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_06_Group

Let’s try that once again. This time around, Kuya seems ready to get hit then strike back. Haha!


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_04_Group

Alberto snapped this one. To this Indian dinner with the Italians, I wore my Adidas UEFA EURO 2008 shirt with the colors of the Italian flag, gray shorts, red Zapi shoes, Technomarine Apnea Sports Watch in red, and my Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers in white.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_18_Menu

Alberto’s choice – Kashmir: A Culinary Paradise.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_01_Special

Introducing for the first time in Singapore – Salmon Fish Tikka! (However, it didn’t go with the evening’s dinner spread. Maybe next time.)


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_00_Place Setting

The place setting. I loved the hammered look of the cutlery.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_02_Papadom chips

We started with the popadom chips, shards of thin, fried flatbread, with subtle hints of spice.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_21_Chutney

On the table was a small jar of chutney, perfect accompaniment to the chips.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_03_Papadom chips

The chutney was quite chunky. This strip I placed on my first chip seemed to be fish.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_07_Papadom chips

This one was a cube of potato. Slightly tart, slightly salty. Perfect to whet the appetite.

Kashmir was Alberto’s choice.  Like what I learned while having a lobster dinner with my feet soaked in the sand of the Goa shoreline years ago, the flavors of the Indian subcontinent are as varied as could be going from North to South.  Alberto said that he goes to Kashmir when he wants the more subtle flavors of curry rather than the arresting jolt and spiciness of say, the Goan region.

Luigi interjected that the Palak Paneer, a dish made from spinach and cottage cheese, evokes flavors of Italian provenance.  That alone makes him come back to the place.

The entire Kashmiri spread included curries of mutton, chicken, and fish, yellow dal, cheese naan and saffron basmati rice.  We started with a kind of freshly made sausage and chicken tikka, served over a bed of cabbage and red onions shredded paper thin.

CNY 2013 - Kashmir_08_Appetizers

A duo of appetizers – a meat roll (more like freshly made sausage) and chicken tikka.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_09_Appetizers

The kind server portioned the fresh cabbage and onion salad equally among us. It went nicely and perfectly with the meats.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_10_Salad

A tight shot of the salad, showcasing paper thin strips and slices that speaks volumes about a chef’s culinary technique or ownership of wonderful kitchen gadgets. I’d go with the former.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_12_Basmati

My special request – the Saffron Basmati Rice!


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_13_Basmati

Slivers of toasted almonds dot the top of the rice. Basmati rice has always been regarded for its fragrant, nutty flavor. The almonds – and cashews – kicked it up a notch.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_14_Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_15_Fish Curry

Fish Curry


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_16_Naan basket

The cheese naan came in this cute metallic basket.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_17_Lime Juice

The Italians all asked for the mango lassi, and later for beer (Tiger for Luigi, Heineken for Alberto). I settled for lime juice. Haha!

The four Italians went traditional with their choice of drink to wash all the spiciness down – mango lassi (yoghurt drink flavored with the fruit).  I stayed safe with lime juice.  For dessert we shared a serving of kheer, (basmati) rice pudding made with milk and spices – the cinnamon and the ginger leapt right off of the first taste – dotted with raisins and slivers of toasted almonds.  Yum.

CNY 2013 - Kashmir_20_Kheer

Kheer, Indian dessert of rice pudding cooked in milk and a lot of spices. The raisins that dot the top bring to mind the very American rum raisin rice pudding.


CNY 2013 - Kashmir_22_Fennel

Candied fennel seeds to cleanse the palate

We left the restaurant stuffed and satiated and spent a few minutes admiring the parked motorbikes on which Alberto and Luigi arrived.  With all the men and women of Indian descent around me, and the motorbikes zipping past, I swear it felt like being transported to Bangalore, the very first Indian city I have the had the pleasure to explore.

CNY 2013 - Kashmir_25_Bike

Alberto arrived on his motorcycle. Nice, right?


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Another shot of Alberto’s motorbike

And the food I just had, comfortably nestled in my tummy, all the more added to the authenticity of the whiff of sandalwood that had already perfumed the air, trickling down with the drizzle of the late New Lunar Year’s night.

CNY 2013 - Kashmir_24_Facade

Kashmir on 52 Racecourse Road, Singapore

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