I lived in Singapore for a while, back when I was a little thinner and living the life of a model on the road. Little India seemed to be my happy place, maybe because it radiated warmth and friendliness. It’s also wonderfully colourful and full of interesting things that I don’t usually come by like hing powder and dirt cheap cds of classic Indian singers. There’s some really good food to be eaten in this particular Little India. My Indian relatives from Bombay tell me that Singapore has better Indian food than back home!

So since this is quite a special place to me, I thought I would share my usual route with you. If you ever come to Singapore, you need to come here, if not for the weird and wonderful (-ly cheap) souvenirs, then for the OG food. Following this, I will be giving you a run down on Indian eating etiquette, an important life lesson for travellers and gourmands.

Start your tour at the Little India MRT station, the Buffalo road exit to be precise. You will be entering a world of colour and spicy smells out from the duller dungeon below. Take yourself down Buffalo road, where the first row of shop houses will greet you with their fresh vegetables, curry leaves in bulk, and fresh flowers strung into garlands. You might see some vegetables that you won’t find in the supermarket like tiny bitter melon (karela) and huge tough snake gourds used for soups. Take a look in some of the all-in-one stores, selling just about everything from clay pinch pots (for serving dairy) to small figurines of Hindu gods, to hand henna, and kumkum (a coloured powder made from turmeric or saffron used to mark one’s forehead). If you see a big basket of curry leaves (pictured below), take a smell, they’re really fragrant and not so commonly used in other parts of the world. My mum has to grow her own at home because of it’s scarcity in Bangkok. One thing that I used to buy home from Little India was hair henna, a natural way to dye your hair. I usually got tall orders for it from friends and relatives back home, and if customs ever opened my bag they would have thought I was part of a big henna operation.

At the end of buffalo road, you arrive at the main drag of Little India, Serangoon road. On your right is a big hawker centre that is a kind of wet market with food and traditional clothing upstairs, directly opposite is the Little India arcade (full of textiles, shoes, costume jewellery, and clothes), and on your left is a world of goodness to explore down the main road. Walk left, and you’ll pass Indian gold merchants, grouped together and all in competition of each other. Even though you’ll never find me very adorned myself, the elaborate jewellery here always fascinates me and I become a moth in love with it’s deathly lamp. On the right you will pass a vegetarian institution, Komala Villas that serve all the tasty staples, no frills. It’s a great quick meal or afternoon snack stop. Wonder further down on the Komala Vilas side of the road and you will reach Azmi restaurant on the corner of Serangoon and Norris road. This is my favourite chapati joint, completely open air, you can smell the sweet and charcoal smell of their freshly made flat breads. Chapati is a general word for flatbread but everyone has their own special way or version. These ones are made from wholemeal flour, giving them their incredible natural sweetness. Order a couple and some side dishes like curry cabbage or bitter melon to eat with your chapati. I will be including my Indian eating etiquette and a foodie tour of Azmi shortly.

Finally, keep wondering down Serangoon road until you reach Mustafa centre, another institution that has people flocking day-in, day-out. This is a great place, kind of like a department store that sells just about anything you need in life. Watches, stationary, clothes, cosmetics, incense, bags, and a very impressive pen collection. There’s also a huge supermarket on the top floor where you can find anything under the sun, in bulk, at a very cheap price. I like to collect old stock, plain note books that have a beautifully nostalgic sensibility to them.

“I love the way this country smells. I’ll never forget it. It’s kind of spicy.” Perfectly said Peter.


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