Gayatri Restaurant, Telok Ayer Street

Jal was my best friend when we were in junior college together. He was the tall and extremely skinny guy (and the funniest person in school), and I was his incredibly short sidekick (only when compared to his Wookie-worthy 1.86m frame). You wouldn't see one of us without the other. Seriously. We were in the same class, the same extra-curricular activity and we rode home in the same bus together. As Forest Gump would say, we were "2 peas in a pod".

Oh you wouldn't believe the hilarious things we got up to. He once got me punished by the economics tutor by drawing her attention to me when I was yakking away in class. In turn, he was the only one who got punished when the same tutor caught him sleeping in class when I was also snoring away. He used to mark me with liquid paper (with the insidious method of smearing it so it dries up as a very fine layer over the skin), which wouldn't come off unless scrubbed with a very very hard loofah. In turn, I used to pull out his arm hair (mind you, he was VERY hairy. Suffice to say, he was significantly less hairy by the time we graduated from junior college.). I once spat water all over his face and shirt because he made me laugh when I was gulping down a bottle of water. In return, he made me the school bimbo in all the school live ads he put up.

He's since become a father of a precocious 2 year old, with another on the way. So you could say he's truly matured into a fine adult. But some things don't change. The way we interact is still the same, the teasing, the jokes, the jabs, but with less physical abuse.

We met up for lunch near my office to catch up at a fairly well-known Indian restaurant specialising in South Indian cuisine. The restaurant is completely open-air, but fairly breezy. It's also a self-service restaurant, so you'll have to queue up to pick at the food which is laid out at the counter for you to point at.

I got Biryani Rice with Chicken Masala ($7), with 2 types of vegetables (curried long beans and celery) being standard add-ons. I love the fragrant biryani rice and the aromatic chicken. The chicken breast meat was wonderfully moist and so spicy my nose was all runny. It was like fireworks on the tongue. Brilliantly beautiful but tongue-numbing. The mild curried vegetables provided a nice balance to the stronger flavours of the other dishes.

I also ordered the special of the day, some kind of Butter Curry Chicken ($4), which was creamier and slightly less spicy than the marsala chicken. Still, it was incredibly yummy.

Jal had the White Rice with Mutton ($7), which was more tender than it looked. I guess the thick spice paste helped the meat to retain its juices. He also got some plain lassi (the white liquid) to douse the fiery spiced meat.

He also ordered a side of Mushrooms ($2), which was absolutely delicious. This is a classic case of how the simplest of ingredients can be made so delectable with the right combination of spices.

Gayatri Restaurant
212 Telok Ayer Street
TeL: 6225 4221
Open daily from 8.30am to 10.30pm
Website: www.gayatrirestaurant.com/

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