With the holiday season upon us, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite local Singapore cookbooks that are perfect as a gift or for trying out a new dish!
The Singapore Heritage Cookbook: Past, Present Future
Launched this year to celebrate SG50, this keepsake tome is a collaboration between the co-authors – food blogger Dr Leslie Tay and chef Tony Khoo – and culinary students at Nanyang Polytechnic. The cookbook focuses on the history and ingredients of 12 quintessentially Singaporean dishes like satay and chicken rice, and also gives a fresh interpretation on these classic recipes with futuristic spins as well. A must for any local food lover!
This cookbook by former “That Mama” Namita Mehra is all about making Indian cooking fun and easy — “These are not recipes that require sweating over a curry for hours”, the book promises! Beautifully photographed, the book’s 30 easy-to-follow recipes cover basic Indian favourites like Butter Chicken and Pappadums, along with fun how-to’s like throwing a “Chai Tea Party” or “Spiced Up Brunch”. We also love that proceeds from every product sold on the website support feeding a hot, nutritious meal to 10 impoverished children in India!
There’s No Carrot in Carrot Cake
Not a cookbook per se, but a must for hawker centre lovers (or foodie friends hoping to someday visit our Little Red Dot)! There’s No Carrot in Carrot Cake gives mouthwatering descriptions of 101 of Singapore’s most popular hawker dishes (how cool is it that we’ve got over 100 signature food items?!), along with vivid images from Dr Leslie Tay, suggested food tour itineraries, top picks for must-visit hawker centers and stalls, and more. If you’re curious about but intimidated by the hardcore local food culture, mama, this is a great primer to get your bearings.
Cuisine Unplugged: Reinterpreting European Cuisine with an Asian Touch
Sassy Mamas (and Stamford American International School parents) are already well familiar with local chef Emmanuel Stroobant’s ability to work magic in the kitchen (just check out the amazing lunchbox recipes he shared with us if you’re in need of a little inspo, mama!). Here, the French-trained chef behind massively popular local restaurants like Picotin and Brussels Sprouts gives his take on European classics while incorporating fresh, local ingredients – from local seafood to Asian spices – to help you create something that feels completely new and exciting in the kitchen.
Plusixfive: A Singaporean Supper Club Cookbook
We love the story behind this one: a homesick Singaporean in London started trying to re-create his favourite hawker dishes in his tiny one-bedroom flat using whatever ingredients he could source. Eventually his monthly supper clubs became all the rage among British chefs, food critics and TV stars. Drawing its name from Singapore’s international calling code, Plusixfive won “Best Chef Cookbook” at the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. This is the perfect going away present for friends leaving Singapore, as it’s all about capturing the spirit of Singaporean food even if you can’t get your hands on all the wondrous ingredients.
If $2 hawker food is on one side of the “quintessentially Singaporean” food and beverage coin, the swish Raffles Hotel is on the other. We don’t doubt you’ll be able to find a killer Singapore Sling recipe, along with perennial favourites from The Tiffin Room, Long Bar Steakhouse, and Ah Teng’s Bakery.
Artichoke: Recipes & Stories from Singapore’s Most Rebellious Kitchen
Artichoke might focus more on Middle Eastern – rather than Singaporean – cuisine, but its owner and head chef Bjorn Shen is one of the most inventive cooks in Singapore, leading the locavore movement with a garden that supplies the restaurant and expanding into two equally playful culinary endeavours, Thai spot Bird Bird and the ice cream stand Neh Neh Pop. Artichoke is where it all began, though, and this cookbook is every bit as much a memoir of one of Singapore’s true rockstar chefs as it is a collection of delicious recipes (who doesn’t love the Lambgasm?).
Author Sylvia Tan has written a number of cookbooks about Singaporean heritage food and also shares lots of tips and recipes at her “Mad About Food” page, but we’re partial to this beautiful book that focuses on Singapore’s fascinating (and super pretty!) Peranakan culture. Incorporating Malay, Chinese and even European recipes and ingredients, Peranakan cooking can seem intimidatingly daunting, but the book aims to simplify classic dishes where it can. Much care is also dedicated toward getting Peranakan cooking’s essential pastes down, for these are the true foundation of its unique flavour.