Types of Curry Rice Singapore
Singapore offers a magical experience for traditional local food. Just thinking about the variety of dishes on offer makes your mouth water and your tastebuds tingle with anticipation for the delights to come. For Singaporeans, and for visitors to the island state to discover, the dishes at hawker stalls are a staple of everyday life in this thriving, sophisticated metropolis.
Curry rice in all its forms is, simply put, the taste of Singapore. And there are so many different curry rice dishes: Hainanese curry rice, clay pot fish head curry rice, Nyonya chicken curry Rice, Thai green curry rice and Japanese curry Rice. These dishes fascinate locals and tourists alike every day and the search for the best is never ending.
Finding the unsurpassed eating place is a serious pastime for Singaporeans, and although locals support their own favourite stalls, they are always keen to try a new place in a different part of town in search of the finest of these authentic flavours. It really is the national hobby – finding the next, best, culinary experience. In fact, Singaporeans see these foods as part of their national identity. To find the best, it is usually the hawker stall with the longest queue. If no one else is eating there, the best advice is to move on.
Hawker stalls vary in quality and taste and curry rice at one place can be very different from one just a few doors down, even within the same hawker centre. Centres can be found all over the city.
The flavour experience is wholly dependent on the guarded family secret recipes used for the curry sauce, the use of fresh ingredients and the talent and experience of the chef. In many stalls, their unique creations come from recipes handed down from generation to generation, making each experience distinctive.
Hainanese curry rice
There are really four traditional dishes to choose from on the Hainanese curry rice menu – crispy pork chop fried until very crunchy with a crushed cream cracker or panko crumb coating; chicken curry with potatoes that is mild in taste and delicious; chap chye, a fragrant cabbage based dish cooked until the cabbage is soft and succulent; and finally braised pork belly or pork hock that is cooked to be beautifully tender, falling off the bone. You can order all these as ‘side dishes’ to form a complete meal, or just take one with a bowl of rice. Head over to Hong Seng Curry Rice for some Hainanese curry rice today!
Clay pot fish head curry rice
This truly is Singapore on a plate. With its roots based in the Chinese appreciation of fish head and the spices of southern India, a whole red snapper fish head comes in a clay pot filled with a red curry sauce. It is a uniquely Singaporean delight. Often tamarind paste is used which gives a sweet sour flavour; others use coconut milk to make the dish more creamy. Either way, it’s delicious. Okra or eggplant accompanies this superb dish. Singaporeans have tried this classic home-grown dish all over the city and each family has their own distinct favourite stall, which they loyally patronise.
Nyonya chicken curry rice
Nyonya chicken curry rice, or Kari Ayam, is a steaming bowl of tender chicken with potatoes in a spicy coconut milk soup. It is very easy to eat and eat and eat, so fabulous is the taste – finding pieces of lovely tender chicken and then soft pieces of potato in the rich creamy sauce is an experience not to be missed.
This dish originates from the unique racial mix of Singaporeans created when Chinese migrated to the Malay Peninsula in the 15th to 17th centuries. Known generally as Peranakan; men are Baba, and females are known as Nyonya (woman, auntie, or high-profile woman) hence the derivation of this extraordinary dish, loved now not just by Singaporeans, but by all kinds of people worldwide. Simply put it is a spicy combination of the flavours of Indonesia, China and India. The curry is laced with coconut milk and is eaten either with rice, or with roti canai (delicious, soft flat bread fried with ghee).
Thai green curry rice
Green chillies, lemongrass, lime leaves and basil, together with ginger, garlic, shallots and a little peanut oil, create an emerald green paste to be used in this magical dish. Chicken cut in longer pieces and eggplant is infused with these exhilarating tastes in coconut milk and stock. Served with a mound of coconut rice, it makes a wonderfully refreshing meal. It is a regular meal from Bangkok to Singapore, and beyond.
Japanese curry rice
This is really Japanese comfort food transported to Singapore for its brilliant taste. It is a rich beef and vegetable curry with a distinct thick brown sauce, chock full of flavour. The Japanese spices and herbs join together in this exciting dish to create a unique taste and if well done can be just remarkable. Served with stickier rice than usual it will fill up even the most ravenous of diners.
The best of the best
The wonderful thing that creates such diverse presentations of these dishes is the home-made recipes that inspire each individual hawker stall.
Hawker centres came into existence when the government made the excellent decision to move street stalls to dedicated buildings. This instantly made the food on offer of a better quality and solved a major problem on Singapore’s streets. Today you can see people of all races savouring the foods that have come to mean Singaporean food in hawker stalls across the city.
Hawker centres are almost everywhere. At the street level of large apartment blocks, in the main streets and further out of the central district. In fact, wherever you are in Singapore there will be a hawker stall waiting for you to fill up on the authentic local fare. Some have up to 100 stalls, others just a few, but they all abound in delicious curry rice dishes.
As any local Singaporean would already know, this is where the best food is found.