So much for street food
So Much For Street Food. Singapore is a mini-globe; the strategic location and multicultural population bring with them the many influences of...
The scrumptious local cuisine which is an exciting amalgamation of colours, flavours and textures and influences from cultures make up for the world famous modern day Singapore street food
Singapore is a mini-globe; the strategic location and multicultural population bring with them the many influences of Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and English cuisines to the native Malay food. And more than the fine-dining restaurants and hotels it is the Singapore’s street food culture that has gained a cult status and is one of the major tourist attractions.
Executive Chef Shivneet Pohoja of Welcomhotel Dwarka, New Delhi is an expert on Singapore street food, gained by virtue of his long stint in Singapore and his training in Chinese cuisine. He terms the Peranakan Laksa bowl to be one of the best dishes available on the streets of Singapore. Even celebrity Chef Gordan couldn’t help but gush over this complex dish, which is a meal on its own with an interesting combination: Malay style curry with Chinese egg or rice noodles along withcrispy tofu, cilantro, shrimps and chicken, lemon grass for flavour and bird-eye chilli for the sharpness and coconut milk make for a delicious bowl that can be polished off till the last drop.
The street food usually comes as a set menu and is totally satiating. For example the Nasi Goreng – Chinese Chow-mein smartly adapted by the Malays to flavours of their choice using yellow rice stir fried with chillies, tomatoes and a choice of ingredients ranging from eggs, chicken, prawn, vegetables or beef is served along with grilled satays and peanut sauce and shrimp crackles as was served by Chef Shivneet who recreated the delicious preparations at ITC Kakatiya, Hyderabad as a part of a food promotion.
While some of the dishes are high on spice quotient, some are mildly spicy owing to their influences. For example the Hainanese Chicken rice is adapted from a more traditional Hainan recipe where chicken is cooked in chicken stock and is lighter and mildly seasoned. However the Singaporean version is spiced up with a special blend of fresh chillies and aromatic herbs like lemon grass and galangal and is served with the chilli sauce
Amongst the many influences, Indian is one of the most predominant. In addition to several spices and ingredients like tamarind, the distinctly Indian preparations like Roti Prata – the Kerala styled paratha served with a vegetable or chicken kurma; fish head – a Red Snapper head simmered in coconut-based gravy with okra and tomatoes and butter chicken masala served with garlic naan top the list of the popular street food menus.
One must mention the Kaya Toast when speaking of street food from this part of the world - two thin slices of toast with chunks of butter slathered with pandan flavoured coconut jam and served with soft-boiled eggs that serve as the dip to the toast is heavenly. The desserts too are extensive in the variety for obvious reasons. For example the Malay dessert Ais kacang – a fruit cocktail served with ice cream and shaved ice is popular in Singapore too.
The variety available at Singapore street food stalls is mind-boggling and the taste is out of the world. And why not with the Indian chef cooking fried noodles and a Chinese chef dabbling with Indian spices, Singapore’s street food is definitely an interesting confluence of enticing flavours and textures.