Singaporean rice is a Pakistani fusion dish comprising of a layer of rice, followed by a layer of Chinese style chicken and vegetables, followed by noodles and a mayo sauce on top.
So even though the name of this dish is Singaporean Rice, it does not originate from Singapore and has no connection with Singaporean cuisine. It actually originates from the city of Karachi in Pakistan, and is a perfect example of a Pakistani fusion dish that does not make sense, but tastes absolutely delicious! As far I was able to research, the recipe is said to be originated by a wedding caterer who wanted to create a one dish meal (like biryani) - a dish that had protein as well as starch and so he made this up. So he came up with this dish that had rice, chicken, vegetables, even noodles and chillies on top for spice; and in order to make it sound exotic and fancy, he came up with a unique name - Singaporean Rice!
The first time I had this dish was at a Karachi wedding circa 2010 – I remember being fascinated by this dish that had rice, chicken, noodles, and an orange sauce with garlic and chillies. I would wait for the waiters to refill the dish so I could get more of the crunchy topping. At that time, the dish wasn’t available at restaurants, and our local cooking shows hadn’t popularised the recipe on television either so the only way to eat it was to go to a wedding, and hope for it to be part of the menu. Over time, people figured out the recipe and many versions are now available at roadside cafes and restaurants, each with their own twist. Read on ahead to find my version of this popular recipe.
There are five components in the Singaporean rice recipe:
- Rice – the base layer for this recipe is Basmati rice which can be plain or flavoured with whole spices (such as cumin and star anise).
- The second layer is Indo-Chinese style chicken and vegetables. Onions, capsicum, carrots and cabbage are the most common vegetables used (as they are easily available) but you can switch these up.
- The third layer is noodles. Asian style egg noodles are preferred but spaghetti can also be used.
- The fourth layer is a spicy and tart mayo & ketchup sauce.
- And finally, the fifth layer or basically the garnish is fried garlic and green chilies.
Tips on making Singaporean Rice:
- The components of Singaporean rice can be made a couple of hours in advance and assembled before serving. Warm the dish by covering it with foil and place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. If you don’t cover with foil, the noodles will get soggy. The garnish needs to be added right at the end so the fried garlic remains crunchy.
- Adjust the the quantity of each layer based on personal preference. My mother would always boil extra noodles for my brother, and I always doubled the quantity of fried garlic for the garnish as I loved that!
Looking for more Pakistani & Indian recipes for your weekly dinner inspiration. Check out the following:
- Ginger Chicken, Pakistani style
- Murghi ka Salan (Chicken curry with Onions and Tomatoes)
- Karahi Chicken
- Lobia ka Salan (Black eyed peas in curry)
- Aloo Gosht (Mutton Curry with Potatoes) – Stovetop & Pressure Cooker method
Ingredients for Rice Layer
- 2 tablespoons oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
- 2 star anise (badiyan ka phool) - optional
- 2.5 cups Basmati rice washed and soaked for 10 minutes
Ingredients for Chicken and Vegetables Layer
- ¼ cup oil
- 2 garlic cloves sliced
- 1 tablespoon ginger chopped
- ½ kg boneless chicken cut in cubes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons soya sauce adjust to taste
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 carrot chopped
- 2 small capsicum chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cup cabbage sliced
- 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (substitute with chili sauce)
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoon corn flour
- 200 grams boiled spaghetti quantity can be reduced
Ingredients for Sauce
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
Ingredients for Garnish
- 2 tablespoons oil for frying
- 4 green chilies
- 8 garlic cloves sliced
Instructions for Rice
- Clean, wash and soak rice for 15 minutes. Rinse at least 3 times to get rid of the starch.
- Heat oil in a large pot.Add cumin seeds and star anise (if using). Saute for about 30 - 45 seconds, and add rice.
- Add salt and about 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, and cover with lid till rice is done. Set aside.
Instructions for Chicken & Vegetables Layer
- 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 mixture becomes thick, turn off the flame. Avoid cooking the vegetables for too long as they can become soggy.
Instructions for Mayonnaise
- Put all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix well and keep aside.
Instructions for Garnish
- 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.
Instructions for Singaporean Rice Assembly
- Take a large glass dish, preferably a 13 x 9 rectangle dish. Layer the rice at the bottom, and then spread half of the chicken and vegetables mixture. Top with half of the noodles, and then the remaining chicken & vegetables followed by the noodles. Top the noodles with the mayonnaise and then finally the fried garlic and green chillies.
- The Singaporean rice can be warmed in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes. When serving the Singaporean Rice, make sure to get a bit of all the layers for the best flavour.
- 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.