It’s not every day that you get a call from a blogger friend asking if you’d like to accompany him to a Singapore themed culinary fest at ITC Maurya,New Delhi. And when he does, you drop all your plans (even that lunch date with your school buddies), like a hot potato and say yes-yes-yes.
|The Travelling Pop-out Kitchen|
Singapore-Takeout, a one of a kind concept is a travelling pop out kitchen with more visa stamps on its passport that you and I can manage in a lifetime. This multi-city, international culinary show organized by Singapore Tourism brings the country’s famed diverse cuisine to your doorstep. Even though it’s been over three years since my last visit to the island country, my taste buds still tingle with the memory of Chilli crabs at Jumbo, the pungent Nyonya curries, spicy Laksa, Hainanese chicken rice and baskets of dimsums we sampled at the many restaurants and Hawker centres. The lion city is a cornucopia of flavours with Malay, Chinese, Indian and Perankan influences and leaves you spoilt for choice.
|Hun Kwee Jagong- coconut corn jelly.|
This was my chance to revisit my foodie memories in apni Dilli itself. And when you have expert chefs cooking up a storm, you arrive with your heart singing in E minor and tummy doing a merry tap dance.
|Chef Benjamin Seck|
On the menu was Popiah Goreng (fried spring rolls), followed by Nyonya Prawn curry with Jala roti, a Singapore inspired Laksa Pulao and anti pasti themed around Asian flavours. The meal would be ending on a sweet note with Hun Kwee Jagong- a coconut corn jelly. With award winning Peranakan Chef Bejamin Seck at the helm and ITC chefs Rajkamal Chopra & Manisha Bhasin giving the Indian touch– we were feeling like excited kids waiting for our Christmas treat.
|Jala Roti topped with Nyonya Prawn Curry|
It was more than a treat; it was a journey as we watched these wizards dish out one masterpiece after the other in the live kitchen. Chef Benjamin crafting the Jala roti on his pan was undoubtedly the star of the show. The flour and coconut milk pancake has a delicate net like structure which is inspired by the intricate lace work found on a traditional Peranakan dress. The unique Peranakan or Nonya food is a unique blend of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian flavours and combines aromatic herbs & spices such as lemongrass, chillies, tamarind paste and coconut milk in its dishes. They say your visit to Singapore is incomplete till you have sampled the famed Nyonya curries.
The Jala roti topped with prawn in curry was a clever combination of the melt in the mouth pancake that had so beautifully absorbed the piquant flavours of the prawn curry.
One of my favourite dishes is the Laksa (a soupy noodle dish) but what I didn’t know was that Laksa is actually an aromatic leaf that is ground to a paste to lend flavour to the broth. ITC Chef Rajkamal had reinterpreted this classic Singaporean dish by incorporating it into a Pulao. The unusual blend of Laksa paste with Indian masalas had us licking our bowls clean.
Next in line was Chef Manisha’s fusion inspired signature dish. She had ingeniously used the methi-dhania papdi as a canapé to serve a lemongrass ceviche & scampi and drizzled it with a dash of galangal and imlee chutney. Accompanying it was Chicken Tikka marinated with Laksa paste to give it a Singapore twist. Her jugalbandi of Asian antipasti was a winner and she had plated it beautifully.
|The Asia inspired Anti Pasti|
The popiah was crisp with a crunchy veggie and noodle filling but what had our taste buds tingling was the tangy sauce that complimented it perfectly. Never has a simple combination of vinegar with chilli paste tasted so good.
|Popiah with tangy vineagar chilly sauce|
I was now behaving like a true blue food presenter on TLC, savouring the yummy delicacies with my eyes closed, jabbering incessantly about the flavours and textures. But I made sure that I didn’t let my prankster friends capture my inimitable expressions on their cameras lest they try to blackmail me with my ugly pictures.
Time flies faster than light when you are with friends and good food. And I had to run faster than light when I discovered that I had nine missed calls from my driver. But I parted with memories of a luncheon that was so Singapore in its essence - sparkling conversation, affable hosts and a cuisine that never ceases to surprise.
They say dining is one of Singapore’s national pastimes and I now know why. With a tantalizing array of cuisines to suit everyone’s taste and budget, this gastronomic global destination is a foodie’s delight.
Singapore I’ll be back and my stomach just gave a high five!
Pictures and invite courtesy Snow Leopard (my self proclaimed nephew). Thanks Rituparna, Deeba, Madhav and all you lovely people whose name I forgot to ask, for the good time I had.