Cooking curry

On National Day, 600 residents of two Siglap and Mountbatten housing estates celebrated National Day cooking curry.

The residents gathered over pots of Indian, Malay, Eurasian and Chinese curry to watch the screening of the National Day Parade together while eating their favorite curry.

The evening street parties were organized by the Singapore Kindness Movement ( One was held at Blk 10 Jalan Batu and the other at No. 7 Jalan Bintang Tiga. In fact, the residents at Jalan Bintang Tiga have already been celebrating National Day together on their steet for the past 13 years.

The residents cooked potluck food item to share with one another at the parties.

Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement said, “We want to celebrate the idea that in Singapore, there are neighbours who intentionally seek to be neighbourly.”

“Neighbourliness is part of kindness, it’s about being friends.”

Dr Wan acknowledged the 2011 incident when a PRC family complained about the smell of their Indian neighbours’ curry.

The incident was revealed by the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) in 2011. Apparently, a PRC family had lodged a complaint against their Singaporean Indian neighbors for cooking curry too frequently. Though the considerate Indian family, who were mindful of their neighbour’s aversion, had already taken steps to closing their doors and windows whenever they cooked the dish, but that was not enough.

“They said: ‘Can you please do something? Can you don’t cook curry? Can you don’t eat curry?’,” said Madam Marcellina Giam, a Community Mediation Centre mediator. But the Indian family stood firm. In the end, Mdm Giam got the Indian family to agree to cook curry only when the PRC family was not home. In return, they wanted their PRC neighbours to at least give their dish a try.

Such conflicts between native Singaporean Chinese and Indians are almost unheard of in the past as they have been living together for the past hundred years or so and are used to the cuisines of each other. However to the newcomers from the poorer inland provinces of China, the smell of curry must come as a culture-shock to them.

Still, PRCs continue to come to Singapore to work due to the strong S$. Even the Govt welcomes them. In an interview with National Geographic magazine in December 2009, Mr Lee Kuan Yew proclaimed that it is a good thing that Singapore is welcoming so many Chinese immigrants from mainland China as they are ‘harder-driving’ and ‘harder-striving’ than Singaporeans.

The revelation by CMC caused a massive outcry in social media. Many were shocked by CMC’s decision to impose restrictions on the Singaporean Indian family cooking and eating their curry at home just to please the foreigners. Many viewed the curry dish as part of Singapore’s culture and questioned why the PRC family was not willing to integrate into Singapore society instead.

The citizens’ outcry eventually bubbled up into Singapore’s spiciest protest movement, with 40,000 people set to express their national pride over a weekend by cooking curry. Many international news agency even picked up and carried the news [Link].

Commenting on the 2011 incident, Dr Wan said, “We want people to remember that curry can also be a positive thing. Here, instead of dividing people, curry is going to unite people.”


*Article first appeared on