article #1 .


Anyone for Curried Green Wood Pigeons?




Venue: Unnamed stall at Thye Hong coffeeshop, corner of Norris Rd. and 
Serangoon Rd.


   If you are the rough and ready sort, and your taste buds are as
adventurous as Indiana Jones, then head for this little shop in 
Singapore's Little India. Manned by four bearded Bengalis, it serves
fare that can best be described as food for the poor but discerning
eater.The various meat, fish and vegetables are meant to be eaten with
the chapati bread that is freshly made-to-order.
     I went there with some friends recently, and the first dish was
a dry chicken curry that we ate with fresh cut onions, cucumbers,
mint paste and chutney. The chicken meat was not over-tender and was
full of flavour. The proprietor's explaination was that these were
free-ranging chickens not those cooped-up and over-stressed birds of
big commercial chicken farms.   
     Next came the minced mutton with green peas and diced potatoes
in another curry sauce. Quite an ordinary dish actually, but good
enough for dipping your chapatis into. We also had as side dishes,
plates of stewed vegetables such as turnips, carrots, string beans,
cauliflowers, and an unidentifiable green vegetable. I have never
really liked the way Indian cuisine does its vegetables, but you
should order it if only for a balanced meal.All That fibre must surely
be good for your health.
    For something out of the ordinary, we tried the brain omelette.This
may begin to sound like something from Indiana Jones in the Temple of
Doom, but really it is quite in order. Tasting just like scrambled
eggs, but with the unmistakable flavour and texture of garlic, ginger
and tomatoes, there is nothing squeamish about it.
    And now for the star attraction-curried green wood pigeons.
Something in between the size of a spring chicken and a big sparrow,
the pigeons were extremely tasty. There is something about the taste
of wild game that is so different from farm animals.The pigeon meat
had hints of wood, earth, leaves, and wild fruits. I asked the owners
where the pigeons came from and they said it was from Malaysia. A Chinese
man delivered them every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. I confirmed
that they were called Burong Puyur the Malay name for the common wood
pigeon, as I did not want to be eating the Nicobar green wood pigeon
which is an endangered species.
   The eating environment can only be described as rustic. You sit
surrounded by hordes of Indian workers gobbling their chapatis, with
an occasional Chinese or Caucasian family present. The cacophony of
a dozen Indian dialects being spoken is ever-present.Truly Little
India!

- brought to you by our feature writer Ng Tian Khean


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update:

  • 18 April 96
    due to a shortage of the wood pigeons, they now serve ordinary curried quail.How ordinary! But I applaud the move. By the way, on Singapore's Pulau Ubin live the last of the Red Jungle Fowl which is the ancestor of the ordinary pigeon-except that it can fly far, and has big wattles, and looks more muscular. I saw two when I was there, and hope the islanders don't eat it out of existence.
  • December 2002
    Thye Hong coffeeshop, corner of Norris Rd. and Serangoon Rd. update: Enjoy reading your article on the wood pigeons at Norris Rd, I have been there recently but too bad they not selling anymore. - Kim
  • 15 March 2007
    Hi Ng Tian Khean,
    I enjoy the Makan time web site very much
    I would like to point out just one thing it states -
    ¡°on Singapore's Pulau Ubin live the last of the Red Jungle Fowl which is the ancestor of the ordinary pigeon-except that it can fly far, and has big wattles, and looks more muscular.¡±
    Actually the Red Jungle fowl (RJF) is the ancestor of today¡¯s Chicken (that has been spread all over the world), not the pigeon. The Red Jungle fowl is native to this area and today is rather a rare site. Pulau Ubin is one of just a few places left on earth where this bird is still found. They are very fast and hard to photograph ¨C but if you look you can see them running through the woods.
    Cheers ¨C Fal Allen