The name of this dish has baffled many people, especially people living in Singapore since they have no idea what this dish is. Truth of the matter is that the origins of this dish aren’t particularly clear but we do know that this is a Pakistani fusion dish, particularly popular in the city of Karachi. It starts off with a layer of rice (Basmati, of course) which can be plain or flavored with whole spices. Then there’s a layer of Asian style chicken and vegetables, similar to chicken Manchurian. On top of this is a layer of boiled noodles/spaghetti followed by a spicy and tart mayo sauce. Finally, for garnish there’s green chili and fried garlic. All these layers are mixed together and eaten.
I remember having this recipe at a wedding in Karachi circa 2010, and it was all the rage back then. It wasn’t available at restaurants, and the recipe wasn’t popularized on TV, so going to a wedding and finding Singaporean rice on the menu was a treat. In fact, I think this recipe was most probably invented by a wedding caterer who wanted a one-dish meal (like Biryani) but with a fancy name that would appeal to the locals. He ended up mixing things together, and that’s where Singaporean rice originated.
As strange as it sounds, the recipe is quite delicious and a complete meal in itself. Plus it lends itself to many variations. This particular recipe has the rice seasoned with star anise and cumin seeds for an additional flavor of layer. It also uses about 200 grams of noodle because that’s how my brother prefers it but some people prefer more rice.
Singaporean rice is a Pakistani fusion dish comprising of a layer of rice, followed by a layer of chicken and vegetables, and then noodles and mayo sauce on top.
Ingredients for Rice Layer
- 1/2 kg rice washed and soaked for 10 minutes
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 star anise or badiyan ka phool
- 1/4 cup oil
Ingredients for Chicken and Vegetables Layer
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 tbsp ginger chopped
- 2 garlic cloves sliced
- 1/2 kg boneless chicken cut in cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp soya sauce
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 carrots chopped
- 2 capsicums chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 cup cabbage sliced
- 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
- 4 tbsp ketchup
- 2 tbsp corn flour
- 200 grams boiled spaghetti quantity can be reduced
Ingredients for Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- 4 tbsp ketchup
Ingredients for Garnish
- 8 green chilies sliced
- 8 garlic cloves sliced
- 2 tbsp oil for frying
Clean, wash and soak rice for 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a large pot.
Add cumin seeds and star anise. Saute for about 30 - 45 seconds, and add rice.
Add salt and about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and cover with lid till rice is done. Set aside.
Heat oil in a pot and lightly fry ginger and garlic in it. Add chicken pieces and stir fry.
Add salt, black pepper, red chili flakes, soy sauce and vinegar. Saute for about a minute and then start adding the vegetables. Onions need to be sauted first followed by carrots, capsicum and lastly cabbage.
Fry the vegetables for a minute and then add ketchup and chili garlic sauce. Let the sauce come to a boil, and then add cornflour dissolved in water. When the mixture0 becomes thick, turn off the flame. Avoid cooking the vegetables for too long as they can become soggy. Mix the noodles in this chicken sauce and set aside.
Put all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix well and keep aside.
Heat a small frying pan and add garlic cloves followed by green chilies. Fry till the garlic and chilies are golden brown. Be careful when frying the chilies as they can burst. Make a slit in the chilies before frying. Set aside.
Take a large glass dish, preferably a 13 x 9 rectangle dish. Layer the rice at the bottom, and then spread the chicken, vegetable and noodles mixture. Top with the mayo sauce, and then finally the fried garlic and green chilies. The Singaporean rice can be warmed in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes.
There can be many variations to this recipe as follows:
- Plain steamed rice can be used instead of spiced rice. Peas or other vegetables can be added to the rice for a different taste.
- Other vegetables like broccoli and sprouts can be used.
- The quantity of rice and noodles can be adjusted as per personal preference.
- Peanuts or cashews can be added to the garnish, along with fried noodles.