Brought to Singapore by generations of pioneers, the local Indian food scene spotlights rich culinary traditions from both North and South India. Over the years, diverse cultural communities here have shaped and influenced traditional Indian recipes, creating an array of delectable, localised dishes Singaporeans have come to love.
Whether you are looking for authentic delicacies or unique Singaporean-Indian delights, get ready for a gastronomic journey of flavours.
North Indian Cuisine
Foodies will no doubt be familiar with the many curries and breads that feature prominently in North Indian cuisine.
Think creamy butter chicken, rogan josh (red lamb curry) and palak paneer (spinach and cottage cheese). The meal is not complete without mopping up all that hearty goodness with piping hot naan (leavened oven-baked flatbread) served straight from the tandoor. Khansama and Jaggi’s are just two popular restaurants that serve up these delicious dishes.
Another staple not to be missed is dum biryani. This flavourful dish consists of aromatic spices, meat and rice sealed in a clay pot and slow cooked for hours. To get your fix, head to Bismillah Biryani, one of the first Indian restaurants in the world to have been recommended by Michelin’s Bib Gourmand.
Need a sugary pick-me-up? Moghul Sweets may look unassuming, but this heritage confectionery is well known for its generous selection of North Indian sweets like gulab jamun (deep fried milk balls) and rasgulla (dumplings in sugar syrup). The store is located in the colourful district of Little India, which makes it a good spot to indulge in both a sweet treat and a spot of sightseeing.
Khansama Tandoori Restaurant. 166 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218050. +65 6299 0300.
Jaggi’s North Indian Cuisine. 36 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218554. +65 6296 6141.
Bismillah Biryani. 50 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209379. +65 6935 1326.
Visit their website for a full list of outlets.
Moghul Sweets at Little India Arcade. 48 Serangoon Road #01-16, Singapore 217959. +65 6392 5797.
South Indian Cuisine
Rice is the staple food in South India, and is usually accompanied by various side dishes like pepper prawns, crab, fish cutlet and masala (a pasty marinade of mixed Indian spices) - flavoured meats. Anjappar serves up a variety of these dishes, but specialises primarily in cuisine hailing from the Chettinad region.
Vegetarian dishes also plays a major part in South Indian cuisine, with dishes like sambar (lentil-based vegetable stew). Restaurants like Murugan Idli and Komala Vilas serve up tantalizing renditions of these dishes on fresh banana leaves.
Wash down those fiery flavours with sweet lassi (yoghurt drink) or jigarthanda, a refreshing summertime beverage made from milk, almond gum and ice-cream.
Classic comfort food doesn’t get any better than paper-thin thosai (savoury crepe) and pillowy idli (steamed rice cake). Typically served with spicy chutneys and sambar (tomato and lentil stew), this cheap yet satisfying meal can be enjoyed at Tekka Centre.
Home to a bustling wet market, hawker stalls and shops selling Indian textiles and accessories, it is a must-visit destination for Singaporeans and tourists alike. If you’re feeling peckish, pick up savoury street snacks like masala vadai (spiced fritter) and samosa (fried stuffed pastry) while you’re there.
Anjappar. 76-78 Racecourse Road, Singapore 218575. +65 6296 5545.
Visit their website for a full list of outlets.
Murugan Idli. 76 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207660.
Komala Vilas. 76-78 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 217981. +65 6293 6980.
Tekka Centre. 665 Buffalo Road, Singapore 210665.
Singapore’s history as a prosperous trading port and melting pot of cultures is reflected in the diverse flavours of Singaporean-Indian cuisine. While this culinary style showcases many herbs and spices native to India, like assam (tamarind), cumin, turmeric and saffron, it also draws upon recipes and culinary techniques from our island’s multi-ethnic communities.
The result is inventive dishes like Indian rojak which you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Translated from colloquial Malay to mean a ‘mish-mash’, this tasty dish fuses an assortment of fritters, such as egg, tofu and shrimp, and comes with a sweet, bright orange sauce. Get your fix at Habib’s Rojak, which boasts a signature chilli gravy that’s handmade daily.
Likewise, the plate of mee goreng (fried noodles) from R K Eating House may appear deceptively simple but its deliciousness was derived from a diverse mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay influences.
Roti john (bread dish topped with eggs and onions), which as the story goes and its name hints, was made by Indian chefs for Western diners. Another local favourite murtabak (fried flatbread with condiments like meat and onions) was adapted from the Middle East.
Be sure to visit award-winning Muthu’s Curry or its similarly acclaimed neighbour Gayatri Restaurant to sample Singapore’s iconic fish head curry. This piquant South Asian-style fish curry has been fine-tuned to appeal to local palates.
Complete your meal with teh tarik (pulled milk tea) or teh masala (pulled milk tea with herbs like cardamom, cinnamon and ginger), said to have been conceived by Indian-Muslim immigrants in the post-war years. Catch the tea-pulling action at Bhai Sarbat in Kampong Gelam, regarded among its loyal following as the best chai shop in Singapore.
Habib’s Rojak. 503A #0168 West Coast Dr, Singapore 120513. +65 6873 7010.
Mon-Fri 8am-10pm; Sat-Sun 10am-11pm.
R K Eating House. 1 Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557253. +65 6289 5379.
Daily, open 24 hours.
Muthu’s Curry. 138 Race Course Rd #01-01, Singapore 218591. +65 6392 1722.
Gayatri Restaurant. 122 Race Course Road #01-01, Singapore 218583. +65 6291 1011.
Bhai Sarbat. 21 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199442. +665 8263 4142.