Eurasian communities in the Malayan Peninsula sprung from Portuguese and Malayan intermarriages, whose descendants would go on to intermarry migrants of other Asian and European ethnicities.
The Eurasians of modern Singapore pride themselves on many popular stews, curries and mince recipes, sporting Western influences from England and Portugal, as well as Asian influences from India and Malaya.
Eurasian cuisine pays testament to this rich cultural diversity, sporting influences from both the East and the West. Eurasian cuisine in Singapore boasts myriad popular stews, curries and mince recipes, as well as dishes like vindaloo (spicy meat curry) and mee siam (vermicelli in spicy and sour gravy).
The former is a curry that was brought to Malay by British colonisers of India. The Eurasian rendition featuring a strong blend of ginger, garlic, onions, coriander and vinegar to enhance the spicy and savoury nuances of the dish.
The latter is a dry noodle dish prepared with garlic, blended chilli, fermented yellow soy bean paste, tamarind, chicken stock and blended dried prawns.
The flagship delicacy of the Eurasians—the devil’s curry or curry debal, is a spicy curry flavoured with candlenuts and vinegar. Originally made from Christmas leftovers like ham and sausages, it accompanies these savoury tastes with gingery and tangy flavours that arise from its blend of onions, lemongrass, turmeric, candlenut and galangal.
These dishes take hours to prepare and a lifetime to perfect. While eateries dedicated to Eurasian food are no longer as common, you can still find hidden gems about town that hew to this age-old culinary tradition. Read on to discover a taste of history.
Humble but hearty
Located in the Central Business District, Popo & Nana’s Delights boasts a range of Eurasian delicacies, all made with fresh ingredients and inspired by family recipes.
Dig into traditional delights like shepherd’s pie, meatball stew and cabbage rolls in a creamy chicken broth. The stall’s owner—Grace Chin—is of both Eurasian and Peranakan* descent, and also whips up nonya** fare like ayam buah keluak (braised chicken in a spicy tamarind gravy) and bakwan kepiting (traditional soup with pork and crab meatballs)
While visiting this simple Eurasian stall in charming Chinatown, you should also try the many other local delicacies that Maxwell Food Centre has to offer.
Popo & Nana’s Delights at Maxwell Food Centre. 1 Kadayanallur Street #01-70, Singapore 069184. +65 9171 0558.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
**Nonya cuisine is also known as Peranakan (meaning "local born") cuisine. The cuisine comes from people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
A taste of tradition
For a meal that channels all the comfort and authenticity of home-cooked fare, make a beeline for Mary’s Kafe.
This charming, family-run eatery is helmed by cookbook author and culinary veteran Mary Gomes, who dishes out traditional Eurasian delicacies like curry debal, pang susi (meat-filled buns) and pork curry asam (tamarind pork curry).
Dessert lovers should save space for the restaurant’s sugee cake—a delightful confection made with almonds and semolina. Fun fact: This sweet treat was traditionally eaten during weddings, birthdays and festive occasions, but you can certainly have it all year round!
Mary’s Kafe. 20 Bendemeer Road, Singapore 339914. +65 9852 0348.
Eurasian fare in the East
A doyen of Eurasian culinary tradition, chef Quentin Pereira runs his namesake restaurant within the premises of the Eurasian Community House, in the historic neighbourhood of Katong-Joo Chiat.
Venture to Quentin’s the Eurasian Restaurant at Ceylon Road to feast on the notable chef’s signature dishes—recipes taught to him by his grandparents— like smore (a rich vegetable and beef stew) and shepherd’s pie.
The latter is a thick-crusted English pie filled with diced vegetables and minced lamb or beef— the Eurasian version sometimes includes ingredients like quail eggs and chicken mid-wings stuffed under its crust.
Other delectable dishes here include feng (a mild curry made with pork liver and heart) and fish bostador—a barramundi fillet with coconut and fresh green chilis.
We recommend visiting at lunch so that you’ll have time to take a walk around the Eurasian Community House—the space is often abuzz with activities, and houses a gallery celebrating Eurasian heritage in Singapore.
Quentin’s the Eurasian Restaurant at the Eurasian Community House. 139 Ceylon Rd Level 1, Singapore 429744. +65 6348 0327.