After such a fantastic meal there the last time I was in Singapore, it was imperative that we return to Samy’s Curry for another banana leaf rice meal. With a few more of us than last time too, we could order a fish head curry! This dish is exactly as it’s name says – a big fish head (a budget cut) cooked in a curry – and it’s a very popular dish in both Singapore and Malaysia. I think the curry is quite particular to this area of South East Asia – it’s tangy through the use of tamarind and is usually cooked with okra and aubergine.
It was yet another hot and humid day in Singapore when we visited and rather than sit outside, we opted to go inside where the fans were. As before, we chose our dishes from the counter (though a menu is also available) before sitting down at our table. As we came quite early this time (about 1pm), we could see the full range of dishes and the tables were full of businessmen stuffing their faces with the delicious curries and rice.
And like before, a parade of waiters and waitresses will come along to lay your banana leaf, bring you your utensils, dish out your rice, ladle the dal from the bucket, scoop up a spicy potato mixture, place small crispy poppadoms alongside, and pour over some curry if you so desire. As we were ordering a fish head curry, we tried some of the chicken curry gravy – this was very spicy and we ordered some yogurt on the side to sooth our heated tongues! You might also notice that the rice is different to the plain white rice I ordered a few years ago. This time I went for “coloured rice”, their words for what’s essentially briyani rice or a spiced pilao.
This is another one of the main reasons we came back – Samy’s magical dal. I’ve been trying to crack the recipe for a while and the last time I forgot one main ingredient that I saw this time – cabbage. It’s a very creamy, soothing cabbage dal and it’s absolutely, gobsmackingly good. All banana leaf rice places in Singapore and Malaysia offer a small variety of vegetables along with the rice but Samy’s has that dal!
Of course, you could just sup on this banana leaf rice set but it’s more fun (and greedy) to have a few dishes on the side. From the counter of hot dishes, we chose some black squid, a gently spiced dish which must have included some of the squid’s ink. This wasn’t spicy hot at all and would be good for those who are a little timid with heat.
I thought the squid wasn’t as impressive as the Mysore mutton though. This mutton dish looked dark and dry in its metal bin at the counter but the waiter recommended it as one of Samy’s signature dishes. I ordered it and never regretted it. It’s indeed dry – even drier than the famed dry meat dish at Tayyabs – but the meat was very tender and moist. I actually preferred this to the version at Tayyabs and I’ve been looking for recipes to recreate it at home.
The long awaited fish head curry was also excellent. Our waiter did try to push us into ordering a medium sized pot but I insisted on a small one so we could try their other dishes – and I would definitely recommend this. The small pot was already quite big! Sure there’s less meat in a smaller fish head but the curry was filled with lots of chunks of aubergine and whole okra pods and was good and tangy – this tasted quite like the fish curry my mother used to cook!
With multiple rounds of their delicious lime juices, the bill for the four of us was $65 in total. I reckon this was a fine deal for all the food we consumed – I was trying to lie horizontally by the end of lunch and was rubbing my new food baby. And Samy’s Curry is only a short walk from the western end of Orchard Road. You could work off all that curry and rice by uh… shopping!
Blk 25, Dempsey Road
Civil Service Club