When Singapore gained its independence, it started off as a cosmopolitan city with the indigenous malays and then the migration of Chinese and indians. With the harmonious integration of different races came the integration of their cuisine and flavours. Here are some of my favourite Singaporean/Malaysian dishes.
Carrot Cake Chai Tau Kway
This is an all time local favourite – fried carrot cake. Don’t think about the carrot cake desert you are used to, this version is boiled rice flour with shredded carrots ( and a few more ingredients). There are two version, the white one, which is less sweet and the black one, which is rounded off with sweet soy sauce. This is then also fried with egg and is great as either a main dish or side dish.
This salad dish, which is also common in Indonesia, gives you a great burst of flavours. “Rojak” literally means “a mix” in malay and that explains the dish. A mixture of crunchy fruit and vegetable as well as you char kway (fried dough fritters) which is not complete without the dark brown sauce. The rojak sauce determines the taste of the dish and it is a mixture of prawn and chilli paste, sugar and lime, but not every shop gets the right consistency of sweet and savoury. There is also an Indian version of rojak which can be distinguished by the fiery red sauce.
Hainanese Chicken rice
This is a simple dish with impact which originates from a small island called Hainan. Many hainanese migrated over to Singapore and brought this dish along with them. It consists of steamed or roast chicken accompanied by rice, but not just any rice. The rice is cooked in the left over broth of when the chicken is cooked. Make sure you try the unique chilli sauce that comes with this dish!
For something lighter, try Satay – grilled, skewered meat. The best part about this dish is the peanut sauce that comes with the meat. If you love peanuts or peanut butter, this is for you! I love the sauce so much that I use to eat it with just rice, and in many places they serves rice cakes with the Satay and sauce. For some good Satay, head over to Adams road.
This dish is a malay dish which boasts a large range of meat and vegetable dishes that come with rice. You get too choose as many dishes as you want but the price goes up per side. My favourite are the vegetable curry, stir fried fermented soya and long beans, bergedel (friend potato cakes) and beef rendang (slow cooked beef in a curry sauce). However, there is so much to try so experiment!
The closest thing you could compare this too is a combination of a wrap and fresh spring role. This is probably the healthiest dish on this list (hey, you only live once) and is definitely always on the top of my list when I return to Singapore. Popiah originates from the Fujian province and you will be able to find different variations in Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan. This popular street food dish is made of various vegetables, such as peeled turnip, bean sprout and carrots along with the important sauce (like in most asian dishes) wrapped in delicate popiah paper.
I will write separately about my favourite breakfast dishes and deserts. What are your favourite dishes in Singapore/Malaysia?
For more information on Singaporean meals in London, check out my Post on Roti King – by far the best Singaporean/Malaysian cafe I have come across.