Vegetarian in Ubud!


UBUD was not even on the Bali map years ago, just sometimes mentioned as an ‘Artist’s Colony’. Yet over time it has become Bali’s quality destination due to its culture preservation and fame as a top end restaurant and wellness location, with almost as many spas as restaurants.

Wellness and Vegetarianism would seem to go hand in hand but with the exception of a rare few, strict vegetarian only restaurants have been a failure here, no doubt due to the lack to the lack of taste that has often followed. However it is imperative for all restaurants in Ubud they at least have an acceptable vegetarian section of the menu. The cuisine that has it all, so to speak, interesting vegetarian dishes with ‘taste’, has to be the Indian Cuisine and leading the way is Ubud’s Queens of India.

Queens of India is a follow-on to the very successful Queen’s Tandoor in Seminyak, by the same management and an extension of the Queens of India brand first opened at the front gate entrance to the Dynasty Hotel in Tuban, then at Tandjung Benoa, the 3rd outlet is in Ubud, beside the Royal palace.

It heralds the steady upgrading of available dining locations in Ubud but it is, surprisingly, Ubud’s 9th Indian restaurant, though definitely the most up-market. Upstairs is a private air-conditioned room for small dinner/meetings and that special dinner with a group of friends,

The restaurant features an immaculate stainless steel kitchen open for your observation, unusual for an Indian restaurant, as many prefer to keep their kitchens unobserved. Nothing to hide here! On arrival you are presented with a complementary serving of crunchy slices of rice papadoms with accompanying bowls of mango and lime chutneys and small pickled onions

Whilst there are many non-vegetarian dishes on this menu it is the vegetarian ones that attract me here the most.

Queens of India also has many menu items that could be called entrees, or for one of those mid-afternoon anytime snacks. The infamous Samosa [copied by many non-Indian restaurants but never tasting the same] leads the way, packed full of a vegetable mix, coated in that crisp pastry with curry dipping sauce. The quaintly names Frankies are wonderful, and are very tasty! Thin pastry wrapped around cottage cheese combined with tomato, onion and salsa. Same shape as a Frankfurt but could not be more different!

From Mumbai are a variety of Puri and Chat snacks, I like the Aloo Chat, potatoes covered with mint sauce. From the south of India are Dosa and Uttapam. The Chilli Kebab is a vegetable patty with a kick whilst the Harra Bhara Kebab of vegetables and paneer cheese is more delicately spiced. The pan-fried battered Vegetanle Pakora and Onion Bahjee’s are always good.

From the Tandoor are Vegetarian Sheek Kebab, Paneer Tikka [cottage cheese marinated in spices, onion and tomatoes], and Hatra Paneer Tikka [cubes of cottage cheese marinated in corriander, mint and green chilli]. Paneer Muttah [cheese and green peas] and Paneer Korma [cheese with ground cashew nuts and cream] are another two dishes that I often enjoy here. As well as the Malai Jalfrazi, corn kernels and green peas pan fried in tomato and onion, topped with capsicum.

No cuisine has the range of rice dishes as they do in India, the Kashmiri Pulao [studded with dried fruits] has always been my 1st choice. Here there are many including the pure rice dish, Biryani. Rotis, many of which are cooked in the tandoor, include Nan, Paratha, Roomali, Phulka and Kulcha. A new one for me was the Mixed Herb Nan; the end product slightly rubbery so it was firm to hold and perfect for dunking in the wonderful curries, in true Indian style!

As is always the case with quality Indian restaurants the vegetarian options include the full range of tastes from the various regions and cooking styles of India. Whether a simple Samosa or Kashmiri Kebab [a capsicum stuffed with potato, cheese, dried fruits and spices of course], or old favourite Malai Kofta [pictured,vegetable croquettes in a creamy curry]. And there is always the grand daddy of cholesterol fixes; Indian Dhal, magic lentils, yellow, black or red, although in their tastiest form they are cooked with butter and cream! Oh well, you can not win them all!

So many great vegetarian tastes, But of course there are many non-veg courses as well. Kalmi Chicken is more unusual; chicken legs marinated in egg, cream and a thick paste of ginger and garlic, then grilled over charcoal. Most people have their own yardsticks for comparing restaurants of like cuisine.

For Indian restaurants many compare the silky smooth Butter Chicken, for others the ambrosial Rogan Josh. But my measuring stick has always been that treat from Goa, the Vindaloo. Some go the macho route and make it ridiculously hot, whereas in fact it should just be richly piquant. At Queen’s of India the Vindaloo is as close to perfect as you can get. It has big soft chunks of meat [not soggy lumps of fat as in some other Indian restaurants], a classic. It should not come as a surprise that the Rogan Josh and Butter Chicken are also excellent, although the Chicken Tikka Makhanwala [a more complex butter chicken with a long overnight preparation] is sensational and one of the greatest dishes I have ever tasted.

From the Tandoor are many seafood dishes. Chicken Kalimirch [wrapped with ground black peppercorns], Jaffran [wrapped in saffron], Harra [marinated in mint] and Kastoori [with the distinctive flavour of fenugreek] are all uniquely different. Prawns from the Tandoor are almost as good as chicken. Ambi Prawns [flavoured with raw mango] are the most different.

Other standards include Keema Mutter [minced lamb with green peas], Muntani Chicken Kofta [minced chicken wrapped in an egg coating] and the Prawn Hydrabadi [cooked with spinach, cashew nuts, and unusual spices].

Whilst the wine list is very minimal you can do it the Indian way and try a refreshing but very strong tasting Masala Mix; Melanga [khua and lime], Ginger Trail [lime juice and ginger ale], Masala Magic [mint leaves, jajeera powder], Masala Daquiri [lime juice, coriander, green chilli and chaat masala], or Jajera [jajera powder and soda].

Whilst the other Indian restaurants in the Ubud area present many standard items, Queens of India extends the options by also including many that take major preparation time. The Queens Group present Indian cuisine as it is in India, importing many ingredients as well as chefs to ensure consistent quality.

 

QUICK REVIEW

 

Restaurant             : Queens of India.

Address                  : Jln. Suweta [opp. Puri Saren] Ubud.

Telephone             : 977.399.

Open                       : 11.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., daily.

Parking                   : Street only.

Price                        : Rp. 300,000 [vegetarian] or 500,000  [non-vegetarian] for two [+ drinks]

Credit Cards          : Visa, MC, Amex.

Food                        : Indian.

Air-Conditioned   : Upstairs private dining room [groups only]

Wine                       : Medium list [local only].

Service                    : Friendly and knowledgeable.

Atmosphere           : Clean and fresh.

Overall                     : Full-on flavours of India.

 

Copyright © 2018 Gerry Williams

Reviews that appear in Bali Advertiser are based on actual visits to the establishments listed, without the knowledge of the restaurants, and are not paid for by the individual restaurants.

Opinions expressed here are those of Gerry Williams and not necessarily those of Bali Advertiser. Gerry Williams attempts to write from a ‘typical’ diner’s perspective and, whilst quality of food is the most important criteria overall, value for money is the real measuring stick.