Just so you know, this will be the final post about my Singaporean sojourn. I could probably write one or two more entries about the place, but to tell you the truth, I’m ready to move on. I’ve gotten over my jetlag, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen, and with Thanksgiving just days away, I’m now in the mood for stories about cozy home cooking. But first let’s visit Little India before we turn back to Brooklyn.
One of Singapore’s largest ethnic neighborhoods, Little India is a feast for the senses. A walk down Serangoon Road leads you past numerous restaurants emitting rich aromas of curries and spices; crowded jewelry stores displaying elaborate yellow-gold designs in their windows; and clothing shops selling flowing garments of intricate needle- and beadwork. Jim and I happened to be there during Deepavali, a Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, which infused the normally bustling atmosphere with a festive air. At nighttime, Little India’s narrow streets glowed with electric lights illuminating the way to Serangoon Road’s intricate and beautiful temples.
Before I tell you about the food, I should admit that in the past few years I haven’t been a big fan of Indian cuisine. It’s strange, because I used to eat it quite often, and I don’t really know why I stopped. But since Jim loves it we gamely ventured into a few of Little India’s restaurants. And surprisingly I rediscovered my appetite for Indian food. Sometimes love does bloom the second time around. Here are two restaurants that rekindled my flame for this delicious cuisine:
The Banana Leaf Apollo: OK, I’m just going to say it: I did not try the fish head curry. Yes, I know it’s the one dish you’re supposed to try at this popular restaurant. I know it’s mentioned in all the guidebooks. But I just couldn’t eat a fish head. You see, I have this phobia of eyeballs…and that’s all I need to say about Fish Head Curry. But Jim and I ordered some other wonderful dishes, sampling from both the North and South Indian parts of the vast menu. Warm naan helped scoop up the vegetables in our North Indian set menu which included yellow dhal, fried cauliflower, and pureed spinach (8 SGD). There was even a cute little bowl of tomato soup. All were generously flavored with exotic Indian spices, yet somehow each retained their natural essence. I truly couldn’t get enough of them, even though I had already filled up on savory chicken biryani (8 SGD). I spooned this mixture of tender meat and rich rice onto a wide banana leaf for easy access and devoured it from all angles. Eating off a banana leaf really is quite convenient; I should do it more often. Undecurrents of clove, bay leaf, and various other spices infused this comforting dish, and I cannot wait to try it again. 48 Serangoon Road
Lagnaa: My boss discovered this restaurant during his trip to Singapore two months ago, and I had promised him that I would try it. (No, I wasn’t afraid he would fire me if I didn’t go. The man simply has good taste in food.) Lagnaa offers bare foot dining, something I hadn’t noticed in many of the other restaurants we passed. So we left our shoes at the entrance and walked up to the 2nd floor into an oasis of calm. Tables are set close to the floor, and we sat upon pillows for our meal. On the advice of our waitress we started with the Chicken 65, tender pieces of fried chicken seasoned with garam masala and a complex mix of spices (8 SGD). For the multitude of spices in this appetizer, the chicken still tasted sadly bland to me. I was much happier with my yellow dhal tadka, a gentle, smooth dish of lentils cooked in butter, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and cumin (4.5 SGD). Raw red onion added a fresh crunch to the pureed texture. The keema matter, a rich mix of minced mutton, green peas, and a gravy of Indian spices filled us with its satisfying heft (8.5 SGD). And once again, we ate so much of the wonderful naan that we had to request a second helping. The atmosphere was so peaceful that I practically had to drag Jim out the door; he didn’t want to leave! No. 6 Upper Dickson Road T: 65 6296 1215