There’s a whole bunch of dishes that feature prominently in the cuisine of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and more of their neighbouring countries. But the nuances of these dishes, and how they vary in each country, aren’t common knowledge.
For instance, the Singaporean version of stir-fried noodles, laksa, prawns in coconut gravy and assorted satay are all spicier than their counterparts.
“Singapore’s cuisine also features a lot of herb infusions – lemon grass, chillies and more. It’s hot and spicy,” says Singapore Marriott’s Sous Chef, Thanabalan Chandrasekaran. “One of my favourites is the chicken rice that Singapore is very famous for. It’s a simple dish, and is one of the staples of our cuisine. Chicken is slow poached for an hour with ginger and spring onions. The rice is cooked in chicken fat, ginger and pandan leaves,” says the chef, who is currently hosting a Singapore street food festival at JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu Hotel. Another dish he recommends is a duck curry, which is marinated with ginger, onions and Chinese five spice for 24 hours. It is then slow roasted for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Also check out these popular dishes from Singapore that should be on your must-try list.
Singapore Chilli Crab – Named among the world’s most popular dishes, this one is made with mud crabs. They are stir-fried in a sweet and spicy sauce that is tomato and chilli-based. The dish is said to have originated from a pushcart in 1956.
Mee Goreng – Chinese immigrants are thought to have introduced this dish to locals of various Southeast Asian countries, but it is most commonly associated with Indonesia. While the Indonesian version is mildly sweet, on the streets of Singapore, a spicier one is sold at mamak stalls.
Gado Gado – This salad was one of Singapore’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s favourite dishes. Considered a part of Malay Archipelagos cuisine, it is sold on streets as a vegetable salad served with peanut dressing. Many consider it a salad, but it can be eaten as a main dish as well.
Laksa – A popular noodle soup that is a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine. In Singapore, the coconut milk-based curry is a bit spicier than its counterparts that are served in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
Mutton Rendang – The Rendang is a spicy caramelised meat curry that originated in Indonesia, and is served during festivals. It is also popular among the Malay community in Singapore, Philippines etc. Typically made with beef, it is also prepared using other meats like mutton.
Rojak Petis – A traditional salad dish, this one involves a mixture of fruits and vegetables. Street vendors in Singapore usually sell a version called mamak rojak, which has potatoes, eggs, tofu and prawns fried in batter, served with a sweet-spicy chilli sauce.