Deen’s Nav Tandoor is located just around the corner from Pak Kashmiri Delights in Tekka Food Centre. Both are North Indian specialists, both use tandoor cooking methods, both offer similar menus (although Deen’s appears to have a little more variety), and both force you to eat off polystyrene plates using frustratingly brittle plastic cutlery. The only real difference is that Deen’s is a one-man band (or at least it was when I visited), whereas PKD is more of a family affair. A comparison this close means only one thing: competition. The gauntlet is down; the battle for Tekka’s tandoor crown is on.
Deen’s is located along the same stretch as Raja Bojun and Yi Lian Vegetarian Food, but on the opposite side of the aisle. It is a stretch teeming with parasitic drinks vendors – you literally have to fight them off. But it’s also Tekka’s vegetarian haven, with Deen’s contributing significantly to the range of food options available (it offers around six or so vegetarian curries, plus a variety of starch options). Despite being a one-man show, it seemed more efficient than PKD, largely thanks to the collectedness of the owner/server. Whoever said that blokes can’t multi-task was wrong; the proof of the service is in the serving!
Deen’s Nav Tandoor North Indian Food
665 Buffalo Road, Tekka Food Centre, #01-271
VEGETARIAN SET MEAL (SGD 3.00)
The vegetarian set meal comes with white rice, dhal, and one vegetable dish of your choice (we chose aloo gobi – potato and cauliflower curry). The dhal was superb – wonderfully tasty thanks to the generous use of cumin, and nicely thickened by the use of larger-than-usual lentils. Combined with the rice, the dhal provided a good balance of no-frills taste and hearty substance. Unfortunately the aloo gobi was a disappointment – the gobi (cauliflower) was limp and lifeless, and the flavours were masked by the fact that it was too oily, and served cold.
PLAIN NAAN (SGD 1.00 per piece)
Thick and robust, this naan felt like it was good value for money. The taste itself was a little subdued, but in a way that didn’t matter as the curry it complemented – the real mattar – provided all the gustatory excitement that was needed…
The picture doesn’t do this curry justice, for it contained some of the best tasting paneer (Indian cheese) that I have ever eaten. It was incredible, more so because paneer usually bears a closer resemblance to tofu (in terms of look and taste) than it does cheese. But not this one. The chunks were large, salty, and had a pungent dairiness to them that I found delicious. It was as if some brie decided to go swimming in a pool of curry. Lovely. Although the chopped coriander added a nice blast of freshness every now and again, the taste of the mattar (peas) was a little passive (as was the tomato base), and the garam masala could have been ramped up. But none of this really mattered, as it was the paneer that stole the bowl. A must-try.
The battle for Tekka’s tandoor crown is no trifling matter; I can foresee many sleepless nights weighing up the finer points of this decision. That said, I think the outcome (for now) is clear. The winner is the more vegetarian-friendly of the two. Hat’s off to… Deen’s. Well done.