DAY 34+: Curries, florals & Gold – Little India in Singapore

Little India in Singapore is literally what it says. You would immediately feel like you left a portal and somehow got transported to India, but the portal is the MRT station built especially for this slice of preserved heritage. Oh and this is what India would look like if it was super clean and regulated.

Singapore holds on to whatever that’s left of their history and culture, while many shiny buildings are going up, it has become more important for the country to keep places like Little India untouched. In my previous post,  I mentioned that Chinatown is one of these places, and fortunately it is only a short walk to here. Or jump on MRT and drop off after just a few stops on the North East (they just say Purple) line.

This was Ethan’s first time to both Little India and Chinatown, because it completely escaped my mind that he was new to Singapore the last time we visited! So this time, I decided to hold the tourist umbrella up and be his guide.

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One of the many sari shops in Little India

Tekka Market is the heart of Little India. This is where you’re going to find some of the most amazing hawker food you would have ever experienced. Yes, it’s hot, yes, it looks more intimidating than your regular hawker centre, but boy I’m salivating just thinking about the food there. While Little India is filled with plenty of both South and North Indian restaurants, nothing quite beats the authenticity and value of hawker food in Tekka Market. Many Singaporean families from around the country make special trips to this hot mess of a hawker centre just to take food home to enjoy.

Little India was a result of racial segregation and was where most Indians, if not all, lived at the time. Both sides of my grandparents lived on Buffalo Road (Singapore has very English road names) and were the best of friends. Those days are gone and good riddance, because now people can coexist with each other irregardless of race and Little India is more of a positive reminder of this history and a space to preserve Indian culture.

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Sari, jewellery stores and dollar shop galore

While Little India is on the itinerary of the generice sightseeing tour bus (yuck), it really is an authentic experience and well worth the visit. This is where a lot of South Indian nationals hang out and the amount of stares Ethan received -because he is white and pasty according to him- was hilarious.

Just walk up and down the streets of Little India and you will hit with the aroma of delicious Indian cooking, strong Jasmine floral scents, textiles and smoky incense.

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A flower stall – Jasmine flowers are symbolic in Indian culture
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A popular temple in Little India
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One of many Hindu temples in Singapore

The aromatic and sensory journey will be bound to get you hungry. Vegetarian? there’s just as many Indian restaurants and cafes serving them up as Non-Vegetarian! And just as yummy may I add.

I took Ethan to Banana Leaf Apollo, a popular South Indian restaurant. They are known for their spicy curry dishes and the ever so popular Fish Head Curry. Lucky for me, the idea of a Fish Head floating in a curry creeped Ethan out just as much as it did me (matchmade!) so I ordered my usuals. Mysore Mutton, Chicken 65, Chicken Curry and Thalis…I am struggling to continue this post without Googling where to find these dishes in Yorkshire (just found one in Sheffield!). Banana Leaf has gotten so popular that they have impleted Ipad ordering systems, oh Singapore! This was my late Grandmother’s favourite place for Sri Lankan crabs and I wish I could have brought her along to this restaurant for a meal with Ethan. This is another reason why I return to this place.

 

Yes, that is me above scrapping the bowl of curry!

I think it would be unfair of me just to recommend Banana Leaf Apollo, as amazing as it is, the other restaurants nearby such as Gayathri’s were all just as busy with people waiting to get their curry fix.

After our meal, we walked around Little India, burning off the calories and taking in the vibrant colours of the place I once took for granted. If only we had the time and space in our stomachs to enjoy every single restaurant there. I would definitely recommend doing Little India and Chinatown in a day. It’s just so easy to get there and explore on your own so skip the tour bus, you will never visit a country as convenient to get around like Singapore.

Been here before? What were your highlights? Let me know!

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