It’s no mystery that India and Pakistan have had a shaky history. But in an unlikely love story, an Indian-Pakistani couple fell in love, got married, and gave birth to Mahmud’s Tandoor, selling tandoori, with a spin.
It’s quite a spin—tandoori chicken in burger form. While mod-Indian fusion has been on the up and up with places like Thevar and Firangi Superstar getting many plaudits, Indian-inspired burgers are pretty much still a mythical creature.
Off the top of my head, culture-forward cocktail bar The Elephant Room had rolled out an Indian Fried Chicken burger a few months back, but it’s not quite as intriguing as a tandoori burger.
Some may scoff at the idea of this fusion, chalking it up to being another newfangled creation by damn millennials trying to vandalise their traditional foods. But it’s worth noting that the recipe was passed down from one of Mahmud’s Tandoor owner’s father.
It’s actually quite a moving tale; a younger generation undertaking a familial legacy, crafting an item to resonate not only with themselves but also with the mass market in these modern times. They started off from making tandoori wings, then branched out into burgers in August last year to rave reviews. So, does it actually work?
What I tried
Mahmud’s Tandoor does their burger patties in two styles—a traditional, baked tandoori chicken patty and a fried tandoori chicken patty that wouldn’t look out of place in a gourmet burger joint. Both are starkly different, with their own merits.
With the Baked Tandoori Burger (S$8.90 a la carte, S$10.90 with set), you get a hulking slab of chicken thigh marinated with tandoori spices, squished between two brioche buns. A generous amount of minty yoghurt is added in for good measure.
It’s got big flavours and a potent punch. You get a delectable mouthful of the spice-forward profile, then a light spice kicks in afterwards to add more excitement to the tastebuds. But despite the mild tongue-scorching you get, the minty yoghurt sauce promptly kicks in as a soothing presence.
I was impressed with the chicken meat itself too, it was juicy, succulent, and tender—all the words you’d associate with a well-cooked chicken patty.
On the other hand, the Crispydoori Burger (S$8.90 a la carte, S$10.90 with set) showed a more daring approach to tandoori. While it also uses a chicken thigh, it’s first marinated with tandoori spices then coated in flour spiked with tandoori spices.
As a fried chicken burger lover, I enjoyed this immensely. It’s easily comparable to other popular home-based burger purveyors like Between Buns, boasting a nice crispy skin and moist, juicy insides. Perfectly fried, honestly.
While the flavours are more muted in this iteration, they are still very much present so you get those spice notes but it still reminds you very much of a typical fried chicken sandwich. There’s also a touch of cheese and harissa mayo sandwiched between the buns and the chicken patty for additional oomph.
If you order them in a set, Mahmud’s Tandoor loads each box with Masala Fries and Harissa-infused Mayo. These were almost like cajun fries, but with masala spice inside. While delivery did render them slightly soggy, you can’t escape from the fact that the seasoning was deathly addictive. I could munch on these until my arteries clog up.
In addition to the great flavour, they were super thick cut so if you’re a fan of heftier fries you’d definitely want to savour these babies. Word of caution though; they are a little unevenly seasoned so there may be spells of excess saltiness.
Other than the burgers, they also sell wings in two styles, Baked Wings (S$13.90/five pieces + mint dip) and Crispydoori Wings (S$13.90/five pieces + harissa mayo).
While Mahmud’s Tandoor started off with Baked Wings, I am a sucker for fried chicken wings. Naturally, I went for the Crispydoori Wings to see how they stacked up against my favourite fried wings. Unfortunately, these tasted rather run-of-the-mill and the spice notes didn’t really shine through.
Compounded with delivery time making the wings rather soggy, it was rather unremarkable. Either pop it into the air fryer and pray it turns out well or consider getting the baked wings instead, which are prepared in a style akin to buffalo wings.
If you’re a bit of a chef yourself, there are also Uncooked Marinated Wings (S$17.50/kg) for you to cook to your own liking at home. Mahmud’s Tandoor opens for orders every Monday at 8pm, they deliver islandwide with a delivery fee of S$10, except for Sentosa and Tuas.
While ‘fusion’ has diminished in meaning over the years and lost much of its significance as people started labelling every small innovation as “fusion”, I think Mahmud’s Tandoor is a brilliant embodiment of the label.
Much like the owners’ own marriage, Mahmud’s Tandoor puts on display a bold marriage that produces the most splendorous sparks. And some of those sparks might have slightly scorched my tongue, but no ragrets.
Expected damage: S$8.90 – S$15 per pax
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