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For the non-veg palate

A few dishes from Singapore made by chefs flown in from Singapore are being served as part of the buffet at `Encounters', Taj Krishna till November 6.

SINGAPOREAN CUISINE, like South-East Asian food, specialises in seafood. The cuisine of this small country is a mix of Chinese, Malay and Indonesian cuisine with a smattering of Indian influence. Understandably so because of the presence of people of these nationalities in Singapore. It uses most of the same ingredients as the Chinese, Indonesian and Malaysians use while the method of preparation differs slightly. The coffee shop of Taj Krishna, Encounters, is hosting a Singapore Food festival till November 6. It is important to remember that a few dishes of this country are being served here along with the regular buffet. So the gourmet can have these dishes along with the buffet.

Two chefs from the Carlton hotel in Singapore Chef Mohammad Azhar and Chef How cook the delicacies which change every day. A few salads, a few main dishes and desserts comprise the offering.

At the outset one must mention that Singaporean cuisine is mainly for the non-vegetarians. Vegetarians (especially the strict ones) can steer clear. There is a predominance of seafood - prawns and their ilk - shrimps, oysters, and others and fish. Noodles and rice are integral. Shrimp paste is added to most salad dressings and the dishes. So there is hardly anything which is totally vegetarian - except perhaps the fried rice.

The salads are predominantly seafood based. There is gado gado (the famous Indonesian salad with peanut sauce) and som tum (raw papaya salad). And of course some shrimps and mini baby oysters (don't shriek they are not live).

A special dish called Singapore Laksa is tossed up by the chef on request. It is basically rice noodles topped with a spicy curry sauce, cucumber, eggs, onions and laksa (a herb which imparts the distinctive flavour and has a slightly citrus smell) - something akin to the Burmese khowsuey - though different in taste although khowsuey also uses some ingredients like noodles and onions. This is one of the fiery dishes as compared to the others which have a sweet-sour taste such as the sweet and sour fish.

The main dishes include the fried rice, fried prawns with curry leaves (the Indian legacy), fried chap chap (mushrooms and cabbage) and fried kankong (which is a green leafy vegetable available in Singapore). Of course the menu is changed every day and these may or may not be repeated.

So have this meal which comes at a hefty price before November if you are the omnivorous kind and you don't mind rubbing hands with mini baby oysters and shrimps.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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