Eurasian communities in the Malayan Peninsula sprung from Portuguese and Malayan intermarriages. They would go on to intermarry with migrants of other Asian and European ethnicities. As representatives of the constant fusion of cultures in Southeast Asia, the Eurasians of modern Singapore pride themselves on many popular stews, curries and mince recipes, sporting influences from places like England, Malaya and Portugal.
Some Eurasian trademark dishes include Indian-influenced curries like vindaloo and devil’s curry as well as Chinese-influenced, dry mee siam (vermicelli in spicy and sour gravy), which take hours to prepare and a lifetime to perfect.
Mee siam is a dry noodle dish prepared with garlic, blended chilli, fermented yellow soy bean paste, tamarind, chicken stock and blended dried prawns. This culinary practice not only lets you better enjoy the texture of its noodles, but also brings out its unique flavours.
The Eurasians are fond of using ginger, garlic, onions, coriander and vinegar to enhance the spicy and savoury nuances of vindaloo, a curry that was brought in by the British colony of India to Malaya.
The flagship delicacy of the Eurasians—the devil’s curry or “kari 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 Originally made from Christmas leftovers like ham and sausages, it accompanies these savoury tastes with gingery and tangy flavours that arise from its blend of onions,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.
Humble but hearty
In the Central Business District, Popo & Nana’s Delights lets you enjoy Eurasian delicacies like the devil’s curry and fish moolie (a Portuguese coconut curry with Indian and Eurasian influences) for as little as S$5, which are also monosodium glutamate free. The coconut milk makes a comforting creamy base for fish moolie’s tilapia, which is flavoured with turmeric, chilli, curry and lime. 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.
Maxwell Food Centre. 1 Kadayanallur Street Singapore 069184. +65 9171 0558.
Old guard downtown
Not only does Damian D’Silva prepares acclaimed renditions of Eurasian dishes like feng (stew made with pig offal), he is also a devout journeyman and retainer of the various classic cuisines that early settlers brought to Singapore.
The part-Peranakan* and part-Eurasian restaurateur now heads Folklore, which showcases the Filipino-Eurasian wolf herring dish singgang, the Anglo-Indian-Eurasian soup mulligatawny and more.
With recipes that lead to broth ranging from bright red to olive green, feng is a unique broth made from innards and diced pork. While simple feng is quickly stir-fried and left to marinate overnight, more elaborate recipes prepared for holidays like Christmas involve painstakingly cooking each part of the pig separately and tediously massaging its herby marinade in.
While Filipino singgang is a tamarind-flavoured soup, singgang Serani (Malayan gravy, Eurasian style) is better likened to a fish curry, which showcases the Eurasians’ undying zest for employing many native spices. Similarly, the peppery South Indian soup mulligatawny has been tweaked by the Eurasians into a thick and spicy gravy that is enlivened by cumin, fennel and coriander.
Destination Singapore. 700 Beach Road Level 2, Singapore 199598. +65 6679 2900.
Daily noon-2.30pm, 6-9.30pm.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
Skinny chef in the east
Venture to Ceylon Road near Singapore’s East Coast—where acclaimed eateries are abundant— to feast on the notable chef’s signature dishes like shepherd’s pie and smore (a rich vegetable and beef stew) that were taught to him by his elders. A thick-crusted English pie with diced vegetables and minced lamb or beef, Eurasian adaptations of the shepherd’s pie sometimes includes ingredients like quail eggs and chicken mid-wings stuffed under its crust. The Eurasian Community House is also filled with activities like talks and charity drives all year round, which everyone is welcome to participate in.
Eurasian Community House. 139 Ceylon Rd Level 1, Singapore 429744. +65 6447 1578.
Tue-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm; Sat & Sun 11am-2pm, 6.30pm-10.30am.