Rang Mahal: Indian Fine Dining With Modern Sensibilities

Every so often, I wake up to an unexpected invite that doesn't involve the latest incipient opening. Rang Mahal, is one such example of a fine dining institution that has paved its way to success, with deep-rooted beginnings initiating from 1971. Fortunately for me, my latest relationship endeavour with a British-born Indian and the integration with his family has got me dwelling on the topic of Indian food. Gujarati cuisine, primarily vegetarian with a distaste for the allures of alcohol, is opening my eyes to the multifariousness of Indian food. It represents the essence of Indian food, and its diversity traversing state lines, uprooting false impressions that dining 'Indian' could only mean butter chicken with a side of naan. I plead guilty.

When you enter, a sneak peak of the private room creeps up on the left. It is filled to the rafters with a rambunctious crowd feeding off the perilous joys of alcoholic grape juice, the ceiling high sliding doors serving to blockade that infectious riotous movement from the main dining area. The interior boasts carpeted floors and tables set with white tablecloths, lighted by muted dangling light fixtures - it's regal aesthetic flaunts opulence and intimidates, but the amicable staff is quick to put the jitters at bay. The room speaks of unfettered tradition, the shadows touting mysteries heady with myths of kings and rajas -  a feel that is quickly disappearing in most fine dining restaurants, and I revelled in it. A small family across the room touting a young child celebrates a birthday, the room erupts into song, and congratulatory messages are exchanged over banquet tops. It's heartening and the service staff feeds off the crowd's energy, dishing out the courses with more enthusiasm.

The food is crafted by Chef Milind Sovani, a man whose character towers above his humble stature. He reveals that his recent long-term residency in India has inspired his switch in culinary direction for Rang Mahal. 'Fine dining with modern sensibilities' as he coins it, means respecting the authenticity of India's regional cuisine, elevating it, yet having it grounded in age-old roots and traditions. He has designed it to be served family style. A tough act when shedding the image of fine dining - artistically landscaped dishes upholstered in a watercolour palette in favour of larger plates that, to be honest, drew as dramatic a responses as one would expect from the former.

A large papad littered with a colourful potpourri of crispy lentil, onion, tomato and chilli draws gasps across the table. Shaped with the aid of an inverted wok, its size and explosion of colours leave no room for subtlety. This kept everybody busy for some time. Then there was the ensemble of kebabs, an otherwise mundane submission that rebelliously flaunts a Swiss invasion with a pot of luscious cheese sauce perfumed with a hint of tomato Makhni. Butter chicken lovers will take to this like a fat kid to chocolate cake. A variety of interesting herbs such as holy basil, kasuri and fenugreek take centre stage in the grilled meats, allowing guests the option of savouring the artistic palette of Indian spices individually , followed by a quick dip that altercates its flavour structure. There's no denying that meats ad cheese makes a delicious kind of sense.

Rang Mahal
7 Raffles Boulevard 
Level 3
Pan Pacific Singapore
t: 6333 1788
Reservations: https://goo.gl/XejYoh

Operating Hours:
Sun - Fri: 12 - 2 30pm; 6 30 - 10 30pm
Sat: 6 30 - 10 30pm

No comments: