Sep 202012

Durian. The King of Fruit. A fruit that has, well, an unpleasant odour. Some say it reeks of the manure of a fruit eating bird, others liken it to the stomach contents of unwell monkeys.  To me, the aroma brings to mind a mixture of baby vomit and bubble gum. All agree that it is a powerful scent – which is why it is banned from all public transport here, and many civilised eateries. Despite the smell, I really do enjoy the taste – it is hard to describe exactly, but to me it is like the best parts of honeydew melon and very ripe mango combined, then multiplied a dozen fold.

Find a coffee shop or a hawker centre and you’ll often find the durian seller nearby – sometimes with their own tables and chairs, a respectful distance from other eateries. You can literally just follow your nose :)

Here, the durian vendor at the Queen Street end of the Bugis Street Market is grading a new batch of fruit by ripeness and quality:

There are many ways of eating The King of Fruits – I’ve enjoyed it in the following forms (I am sure there are others)

  • fresh cut while you wait by a durian stall vendor
  • already cut in a foam tray from the durian stall or supermarket
  • preparations of it in desserts – the dessert stall in the middle of the Lau Par Sat hawker centre does a decent durian chendol
  • freshly juiced – two places close to where I lived in Bugis would juice durian on request (with only a little grimace on the face of the person working the blender) :)
  •  in moon cakes – I have to say that the conventional double yolk lotus paste mooncake does not appeal to me as much as the durian snowskin variety

Opinions are divided amongst my Singaporean friends over durian – regardless of age, cultural background or gender, some love it and some certainly do not. For me, access to fresh durian is one of the many side benefits of life in this part of the world – and I hope to continue to enjoy it for many years to come.

Sep 132012

I have had the privilege to work with several Indian colleagues here in Singapore who were happy to show me their favourite food destinations. There are several quite distinct Indian cuisines here – one of the most abundant is Southern/Tamil – and I took great delight in learning more about it.

There are a number of franchise chains serving good fast Southern Indian food here at very reasonable prices. One such chain, and my favourite, is Saravanaa Bhavan. I was fortunate to have an outlet near the office for lunch and within 15 minutes walk of where I lived for close to a year – the photos that follow reflect my favourites from these two outlets. According to Hungry Ang Mo there are two other outlets – from memory I have eaten at one of them but mainly at the Syed Alwi Rd (Little India near Mustafas) and Robinson Rd (financial district) sites.

I have to admit to being a fan of the Saravanaa Bhavan dosa range – the menu explains it better than I could:

My all time favourite is the Paper Roast Masala Dosa – a large, crispy, paper thin dosa served with a mild flavoursome potato masala curry inside, three different chatnis and a curry sauce:

Second favourite – the very similar Masala Dosa – the dosa is moister, not as thin and crispy – note the same chatnis and curry sauce – a bargain at SGD3.50:

And every so often, for something different, the Onion Rava Masala Dosa – same potato masala, but the dosa texture more brittle and tasty with the onion added:

I’d heartily recommend a trip to a Saravanaa Bhavan outlet even if you are not a vegetarian (I am not) – the food is good, fast, and cheap. It is one easy way to experience something out of the ordinary (an everyday occurrence for the adventurous here) :)