On the lookout for North Indian food, Tan Bee Hong stumbles on a family-run bistro
ITS name is most apt. In a neighbourhood comprising mainly Chinese eateries and mamak shops, Oasis Bistro is a refreshing outlet offering North Indian cuisine with a sprinkle of Middle-Eastern delights.
The newly-opened eatery is run by Ranjit Jacob and his sons while in the kitchen, his wife, Sally, oversees a team of chefs from New Delhi who churn out North Indian specialties.
“We don’t serve mamak-style food,” stresses Ranjit. “Many customers are surprised that we don’t have roti canai (uniquely mamak), for instance. But we offer paratha, chappati and naan as well as biryani (plain, vegetable, chicken and mutton).”
Indeed, Oasis is gaining a reputation for its fluffy cheese naan (RM4.90) though we don’t get to try some. But if the lovely potato stuffed naan (RM3.90) and the plain naan (RM2) are any yardstick of measure, I’m marking my calendar for a second trip there.
With a tandoor (oven) installed in the kitchen, items cooked in the tandoor are prepared to order. You never see cooked tandoori chicken, for instance, hanging and ready to be served. “We never pre-cook,” says Ranjit. “Chicken is marinated and put in the tandoor only when ordered. Customers may have to wait about 20 minutes but it’s worth it as it will be fresh and hot.”
He laughs and adds: “Initially, customers are surprised that our tandoori items are not fiery red in colour. That’s because, for health reasons, we don’t add colouring to the marinade ingredients as is the usual practice. Whatever colour there is comes from the use of chilli and turmeric.”
The tandoori chicken (RM15.40/half bird) is so succulent and aromatic from the spices used that I even forget to add a squeeze of lime juice like I usually do.
I find the chicken tikka, made of skinless chicken breast, a tad too dry though it has great flavours. Lollypop chicken (RM12.90 for eight) fares better. These are chicken wings with the second joint bone wrapped in foil for easy handling.
Not that I mind using fingers. The wings are finger licking good, just like the tandoori chicken (RM15.40 for half a chicken) and soft naan bread to dip in the various curries or yoghurt.
Grilled machhli (fish) is another lovely dish that makes clever use of the spices to bring out the sweetness of the fish. The dish is served with french fries and a yoghurt dip.
Also cooked in the tandoor is barbecued chicken (RM13.90), marinated with Middle-Eastern spices. This yummy dish is served with pita bread, french fries and a yoghurt dip.
The pedas (hot) factor is indicated in the menu with exclamation marks (! for mild and !! for hot).
North Indian food is more known though, for its clever combination of spices rather than the use of tongue-numbing chilli.
If you have tastebuds weaned on chilli padi, you’ll enjoy the mirchi prawns (marked !!). The prawns, cooked with onions, ginger and spices, are not very big but they are sweet and fresh, with the masala bringing out their best side.
Also marked !! is mutton sukha (RM12.90), a dry curry bursting with flavour. The meat is so tender and flavoursome without being gamey while the spices used dance in symphony around it.
Murgh makhni masala or butter chicken (RM9.90) is a silky, creamy gravy with chunky pieces of chicken. It’s mild and delicate in flavour. Goes well with plain or buttered naan.
Palak paneer (RM8.90) is a perennial favourite of mine. In the Oasis version, the spinach is finely pureed and aromatic while the chunks of cottage cheese add lots of bite and contrasting flavour to the dish.
But to my surprise, I find myself enjoying with even greater relish, the bendi masala (RM6.90). The tender lady fingers are cooked in a thick and creamy masala sauce. Again the aroma of spices proves irresistible.
Picking dessert at Oasis is a no-brainer. You simply have to have brownies. Softly warmed and with molten chocolate dripping down the edges, the two wedges of decadently rich brownies are topped with vanilla ice cream.
You can share but you’ll probably end up ordering another helping. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
A-10, Block B, Jalan Prima 2, Prima Business Centre, Taman Rasa Sayang, Cheras
Tel: 012-329 0339
Monday to Saturday: 11am to 3pm, 5pm to 11.30pm
Sunday: Dinner only
From KL: Taman Rasa Sayang is on the right along the Cheras-Kajang Highway, after Plaza Phoenix. Use the underpass to get there.
From Kajang: It’s on the left side, after Giant Hypermarket.
North Indian cuisine and some Middle-Eastern favourites
Tandoori chicken, mutton sukha and brownies
Go give it a try