This National Day season, Chef Damian D’Silva collaborates with local culinary talents to present a series of exciting ‘4-hand’ experiences marking Singapore’s birthday. At his restaurant, Rempapa, he showcases local food traditions through what he calls Singapore Heritage cuisine and in his first multi-cultural collaboration, we met guest chef Marvas Ng (Executive Chef of Path) last week. Continuing Rempapa’s Cultural Celebration Series, today, we meet new Foodie Friend Vasunthara Ramasamy (Vasun), MasterChef Singapore Season 2 contestant, passionate home cook and the Spice Queen behind private dining experience Cutlery Optional. Scroll down for her awesome appam recommendation, or read on for what’s cooking in her collab with Chef Damian!
When Damian was a judge on MasterChef Singapore Season 2, Vasun was a contestant whose thosai he became a big fan of. Vasun’s made-from-scratch thosai stand out because of her years spent perfecting the recipe and studying the science of fermentation. She has developed a time-honoured method, involving a long and slow fermentation period of up to 16 hours, which captures the deep and complex nuances of the thosai she grew up enjoying. Now, we get to enjoy her labour of love on 13 August, when Vasun and the Rempapa team will present a heritage South Indian set lunch featuring a spread of thosai, chutneys and sides, as well as an assortment of kuehs for dessert.
Here are some highlights of the menu, starting with this unique appetiser. Kuzhi Paniyaram with Chutney & Podi is a well-known snack in the Chettinad region.
The ball-shaped crisp dumplings, studded with ginger, coriander, and green chilli, are made with a fermented batter of ponni raw rice and topped with green coconut chutney.
Offered on the side is peanut podi – this specialty from Andhra Pradesh is made with two types of chillies, white sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, jaggery, asafoetida, and toasted dried coconut meat. Each Indian household has its preferred podi variation; Vasun has fond recollections of her grandmother preparing the condiment, which lends distinctive aromas, textures, and flavours to dishes.
The golden brown Masala Thosai is made with parboiled rice and Vasun’s personal blend of dried lentils, then stuffed with a flavoursome potato palya. The spiced filling is made with waxy potato, onion, green chilli, coriander, turmeric, curry leaves and mustard seeds cooked in coconut oil, then finished with a touch of ghee.
The Egg Podi Thosai is served as an accompaniment to Rempapa’s Sri Lankan Chicken Curry. Made with the same batter as masala thosai, this thosai variation is served with egg, minced onions, green chillies, coriander, and peanut podi. The curry is prepared with dry spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and star anise tempered in ghee, followed by a wet spice paste of Bombay onions, Bentong ginger, and garlic. Kampong chicken thigh and meat curry powder are added, then a touch of coconut milk is poured in just before the chicken is cooked through and fresh calamansi juice is added to finish.
Vasun presents three chutneys – Green Coconut Chutney, Tomato Thokku, and Kaara Chutney – that offer layers of texture and flavour to accompany the thosai. Mildly spicy, the Green Coconut Chutney highlights the refreshing profiles of coriander and green chillies, while the Tomato Thokku features tangy notes from fresh tomatoes and tamarind, along with a myriad of spices and herbs. Smoky and spicy, the vibrant Kaara Chutney is a Tamil Nadu-style chutney made with dry red chillies, garlic, and shallots.
This Indian set lunch by Rempapa and Vasun is priced at $68++per pax for a minimum of 4 diners. Served communal style, it comprises 3 thosai, 3 chutneys, 3 sides, and 1 dessert. Available only on 13 August, Saturday, for 2 seatings – 11am to 1pm and 1.15pm to 3pm.
Online Reservation here.
Tel: +65 9459 1603
Vasun often spends her early mornings shopping in the Tekka area for her Private Dining groceries and recently, she reconnected with Little India tiffin stalwart, Madras New Woodlands Restaurant. In particular, she really enjoys their appam, which she describes as “how it should be”.
These cute, curved UFO-shaped fermented batter “pancakes” are thick and spongey in the middle, yet light and springy, with a pleasing tang you can really taste, thanks to the gentle fermentation of the rice flour, yeast and coconut milk.
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