Drink vendors along busy Jl. Gatot Subroto await the call to prayer, hoping for a spike in business when the daily Ramadhan fast ends. Lots of people get stuck in Jakarta’s legendary traffic on the way home from the office at sunset.
It pains me to characterize the curry puff as junk food, when in fact it is the greatest snack ever invented, representing the culmination of thousands of years of snack research. But curry puffs are deep-fried, and fair is fair.
The curry puff is sold all over Singapore, in places ranging from roadside stalls to upscale bakeries. The dough can be a simple flour-and-butter crust or a fancier puff pastry. The one pictured below is a humble but especially tasty version from a food stall (the Tip Top stall at Ang Mo Kio, if you’re wondering).
Inside are chunks of chicken, potato and hard-boiled egg, bound with a thick, non-leaky curry sauce. The sauce is usually not very incendiary; the emphasis is on earthier spices like cumin and cloves.
Curry puffs are substantial; one puff makes for a quick, cheap lunch. A good one is not too buttery and not too oily, and has a complex curry flavor. Luckily a chain of Singapore pufferies has opened some stalls here in Jakarta, so I don’t have to take an international flight to get my fix.
We had some stuff to do in Singapore, so we decided to take a little extra time and make a trip of it. Chad convinced me to go out to a lovely little island just off the mainland, called Ubin.
It takes about ten minutes to get to Ubin on a motorboat, and then you rent a bike. There’s a whole network of paved and dirt roads to ride on, and plenty of places to buy cold drinks. You’ll need those, because the island is as hot and humid as a greenhouse.
It’s really a lovely place, and a perfect antidote to the intense urban-ness of Jakarta. I’ve been a little lukewarm on Singapore in the past, because it’s mainly marketed as a shopping destination, but Ubin is great – I’d go back anytime, and I hope we will soon.
unless your mom was from Singapore.
I’m not sure why this is called carrot cake, since there isn’t anything carroty about it; just a plain omelet on top of some cubes of what seemed to be rice starch, with crunchy fried shallots on top and a blob of hot sauce. It was tasty, though, and filling, and cheap.
We saw this while sitting in a taxi in traffic: a four-seat Ferris wheel mounted on a platform attached to a bicycle. It’s a more highly-evolved version of the kiddie cart I blogged about last month. Could anything be cooler? Unfortunately we only had time to shoot this one blurry photo as we went by.