He stands in front of me , with a warm smile, His apron impeccably white and without a crease.
I look up from the menu and ask” Chef, can I have pure vegetarian options?”
The smile is intact. “Yes, Madam. Definitely.”
I am relived.
“But chef there is a request, I am allergic to cabbage.. so if you can please avoid…” I mumble.
“Not a problem madam! “he replies patiently.
Some of my friends laugh. “What exactly will you get now? No cabbage. No meat.”
We are seated in a nearby restaurant famous for its Oriental cuisine and interactive kitchen.
Being a vegetarian and a lover of Oriental cuisine.
Sounds ironical, doesn’t it? Ironical , Yes. Impossible , No!
I have always loved Singaporean food.Even though the restaurants that serve Singaporean and Oriental cuisine in our country can hardly be called authentic, barring a few.
To my delight, the chef had presented a scrumptious meal that not only satiated my taste buds but was appeasing to the eyes too!
I remember visiting a restaurant in Singapore when I was a kid, that had a signature dish on its menu : Singaporean sidewalk. This was my instant favorite! I tried recreating the dish at home and never getting it right! (obviously!)
In my late teens, I started cooking and dabbling with a variety of kitchen experiments, the love for Oriental Cuisine was imbibed in whatever I made.
Gradually I started experimenting and creating the food I loved. And it was an experience in itself.
From purely authentic Singaporean dishes to replicas with a desi Indian twist, I did it all.
Rushing to the nearby departmental store, endlessly watching Youtube videos and spending hours getting the output I wanted. Sigh! So much for the love of wok and chopsticks!
It was therapy : Chopping vegetables in different shapes for different dishes, the aroma of the spices, the sizzle of the stir fry and the delight in brewing curries with the vegetables boiling in thick, aromatic gravies.
Thanks to all my kitchen adventures I can proudly present some of my absolute favorite , tried and tested , eaten and enjoyed , vegetarian Singapore recipes!
Some of the traditional meat recipes are substituted with Tofu, soya and mushrooms.
But many recipes are actually loaded with vegetables , keeping the basic essence of the dish and the culture of Singapore alive!
The first recipe is Singapore Five -spice Stir fry noodles:
Extremely easy to make and absolutely irresistible.
Here is the recipe:
What you would need:
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 cup sliced red yellow bell peppers
- 4-5 garlic pods , finely chopped
- 6-7 sliced shallots
- 1 large carrot thinly sliced
- 2 cups boiled rice vermicelli/ spagetti/ noodles
- 4 tbsp peanut oil for stir fry
For the sauce:
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 teasespoons chilly flakes
- 2 tablespoons soya sauce
- 2 tablespoons stir fry sauce
- 2 tablespoons cornflour
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Boil the rice vermicelli/ noodles , strain , toss in peanut oil and keep aside.
- In a wok, heat some peanut oil and add the garlic and shallots.
- Add carrots, bell peppers , mushrooms and broccoli and stir fry.
4.Meanwhile, mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and keep aside.
5.Once the veggies are cooked (do not overcook) , add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil.
6.In a plate pour the noodles and the stir fry vegetables on the noodles.
Your Singaporean Stir fry noodles are ready!
The next recipe is of Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice) widely popular in Singapore.
What you would need:
- 2 cups boiled rice ( white, brown or red rice)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 12 french beans, finely chopped
- 4 bunches bok choy, chopped
- 4-5 shallots, chopped
- 2 garlic pods, chopped
- 1 large fresh red chilli, minced
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp sweet dark soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
- For the ground paste:
- 1 large ripe tomato, chopped into pieces
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 4 garlic pods chopped
- 5 red chillies, minced
- 4-5 almonds
- For garnish:
- 1 bunch spring onion greens, chopped,
- Fried cashew nuts
- Rice crackers
- Sliced cucumbers
- Boil rice and let them cool completely. You can use leftover rice as well.
- Chop all the vegetables and keep aside.
- Ground the paste ingredients in a mixer or mortar and keep aside.
- In a large wok, heat the oil and fry the shallots, garlic, fresh red chillies and celery.
- Add the ground paste and fry it for some time.
- Add the carrots, beans and bok choy and fry on high heat till veggies are cooked.
- Add the cooked rice, salt, black pepper and sweet soy sauce and mix well.
- Garnish with spring onion greens, fried cashews, rice crackers and sliced cucumbers and tomato.
Nasi Goreng is ready to serve!
Besides these there are various recipes and side dishes like Oseng Oseng Wortel (carrot side dish), Kaya toast (a snack made of coconut jam , sugar, milk and butter which are options for vegetarians.
Now when I visit Singapore next time,my research on the vegetarian restros will eventually pay off!
I have my food bucketlist ready thanks to Discover Far East
- A wholesome burger at Vegan Burg
- Vegetable Tandoori at The Original Sin
- Thai influenced recipes at Whole Earth.
- Nasi Lemak at Veggie Cottage
- Vegan Food at Loving Hut
Until then , Selamat menjamu selera! and Makan Makan!:)
Here are some memes made for the contest: