Singapore has a long and rich history of Indian food with the immigration of Indians soon after it was established as a British colony. Food from different regions in India is widely available throughout the country, especially in Little India, creating variations due to the influence of local cultures. A significant number of initial immigrants were from the south of India making food from this region immensely popular in Singapore. Restaurants that cater exclusively to vegetarians usually serve south Indian food, known collectively as tiffin, eaten at breakfast or during tea time. They tend to complement savoury crepes like dosai, rice cakes such as idli, hot bread or poori, and lentil-based dough snacks like vadai.
There’s a good range of south Indian restaurants in Singapore which typically serve a set meal known as a thaali; this consists of a large plate with rice in the middle along with smaller containers of various curries, vegetables, side dishes and a dessert. Rasam, a peppery tamarind-based soup, is eaten towards the end of the meal with rice, followed by plain yoghurt with rice.
South Indian food also includes spicy meat and fish dishes served with rice and vegetables (usually on a banana leaf) along with regional varieties such as Chettinad cuisine (known for spicy, hot chicken curries) and Hyderabad biryani, a fragrant steamed chicken and rice dish.
North Indian cuisine, which is also widely available in Singapore, is famous for its Tandoori chicken, fish and prawns, as well as favourites like butter chicken, paneer (curd cheese) grilled or in curries. Lentil dishes, known as dhal is also a staple in India's Punjab region.
The tandoor, a large clay oven that gives the dishes their distinctive, smoked flavor is also used to cook breads, such as naan. If you’re in the mood for a lighter meal, also try chaat: savoury, and sweet-spicy dishes normally served at tea time and best enjoyed with rich, sweet masala tea.
And what about dessert? You can choose from a large selection of sweets available to go. A good number of Indian restaurants have a counter with confectionary treats such as burfi and halwa, which resemble squares of fudge, and laddoo – a round and sweet made from chickpea flour and semolina. On a hot day, there’s nothing quite like kulfi, the Indian version of ice cream to cool you down.
Restaurants such as Maharaja’s Dial A Curry Boat Quay and Anglo Indian Café & Bar are available via Deliveroo’s online food ordering platform offer a variety of authentic Indian dishes to choose from, all for delivery to your home or work – a super convenient way to enjoy your favourite Indian meals on your own or with family or friends without the need to step out. For the more adventurous, various restaurants are also experimenting with an Indian-Malay fusion creating regionally-influenced Indian cuisine. Nasi biryani (nasi is the Malay word for rice) is an example of this; it consists of savoury rice served with chicken, mutton or fish curry along with papadams and a local salad – cucumbers, pineapples, onions, lime juice, vinegar and salt.
Singapore is a major food hub for Indian food lovers so you really can’t go wrong. Whatever takes your fancy you can be sure that your taste buds will be tantalised, tempted and ultimately satisfied beyond your expectation.