Review: Indian cuisine is reimagined in the world of Firangi Superstar
Stepping into Firangi Superstar is akin to stepping into the set of a Wes Anderson movie. Only now you’re the protagonist, and this is not The Darjeeling Limited.
What it is however, is a script that unravels the tale of foreigner’s journey through the multi-faceted and colourful nation. Firangi, after all, is to India what the word “ang moh” would mean to locals in Singapore — an ameliorated term to mean foreigner.
Each room in Firangi Superstar is crafted with such precise colouration that completely teleports guests in an immersive visual experience. The Officer’s Club is dressed in a hazy-hued red, made for a cigar and whisky-wielding dignitary to lose themselves in, while one can almost see a luggage-carrying traveller running past the symmetric, orange-pink tincture and details in Old Railway Room.
“I never thought I would be cooking Indian food. To me, Indian food is just what I ate at home,” says Head chef Thiru who, not born of the motherland and never having been there, considers himself a foreigner to India or a firangi. Previously an executive sous chef at Spago by Wolfgang Pick, chef Thiru has dreamed up a menu at Firangi Superstar that draws upon his personal memories of family recipes and flavours rooted in tradition, but through fresh, playful lens.
“Indian culture and cuisine is ancient; there’s so much you can do,” declares chef Thiru. “They can and will transform again and again.” Read on for our full review.
The cinematic journey builds up with the small plates. The hearty Sothi, a yellow coconut curry finds itself refreshed with a mound of snapper ceviche that’s cured in a beautiful Kokum dressing, a tamarind that’s used as a souring agent in India. A generous helping of Kashmiri chilli oil lends a gentle heat to the cold dish, while the shallots and boondi jazzes it up with a modest crunch.
The iconic butter chicken is reimagined with the American chicken and waffles in the Prata Waffle ???. In case you’re wondering, yes, the question marks are a part of the dish’s actual name. Why no one has ever done this before completely baffles us as much as the additional punctuations — think a twice-battered, deep-fried, Madras-styled chicken drizzled in a beautiful jaggery syrup before it’s plated alongside a fluffy waffle pressed prata. We’d like more of those with that addictive butter chicken sauce, please.
Every Hollywood blockbuster culminates in a large-scale battle of sorts; in this case, it was really a battle for our favourite Large Plates at the table.
The Indian Saddle sees a yogurt-tenderised Australian lamb porterhouse that’s been cradled by the tandoor for a touch of smoke, before it melts away with the aromatic Anise-Ghee rice with complete ease.
The Salvador Thali sits on the other camp of favourites, a re-constructed myriad of flavours – mild, tart, piquant and savoury — all in one plate. Here, the humble pumpkin goes through a series of transformations: whole segments are first marinated in sambhar before being given the oven-roast and tandoor treatment, a twist to the usual cooked-down versions in gravy. Finishing touches of the dish are by way of a dousing of lime pickle, fried salted chilli flakes, quinoa and pumpkin seeds. A whisper of “This is so good” escapes our mouths before we could even catch it, enamoured by the euphonious explosion of flavours and textures.
This blockbuster of a meal winds down with a sweet resolution, and by that we mean desserts. Rather than a cloyingly sweet, traditional Gulab Jamun, the cardamom syrup-soaked milk solid dumplings are instead polished with a chocolate mousse, complete with a scattering blend of gulab jamun crumble, chocolate crunch, rose patisserie and house-made cardamon vanilla ice cream. The perfect happy ending for everyone.
Firangi Superstar is located at 20 Craig Rd, #01-03, Singapore 089692.