New York Times' 'S'porean Chicken Curry' recipe causes outrage in S'pore

The limpest, most unappetising version of a curry chicken ever.

Belmont Lay | February 04, 2022, 05:14 AM

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American newspaper of record The New York Times has caused outrage in Singapore.

Not with its critical news reporting, but by publishing under its venerable journalistic brand what appears to be an uncritical acceptance of an unvetted recipe that showed chicken parts disrespected as they were cooked all wrong, and then somehow passing the dish off as "Singaporean Chicken Curry".

The recipe appeared under the NYT Cooking segment (behind a paywall), a subscription service of the newspaper that has been touted as a companion digital cookbook and cooking guide.

The video triggering Singaporeans in food mad Singapore

Here is the quick-cut Instagram video that really just shows a very poor facsimile of Singaporean curry chicken and can actually be turned into a tutorial on how curry chicken is not prepared here.

Trigger warning: Viewer discretion is advised. You will get angry watching this video.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by NYT Cooking (@nytcooking)

Who is in the video?

The video features Clarissa Wei, a freelance writer from Taipei.

She is seen demonstrating how to cook her version of "Singapore chicken curry" -- or some strange, inaccurate version of it.

Her recipe was derived from another woman, Shila Das, who works as a sales professional, according to Coconuts.

NYT Cooking recipe photo vastly different from Instagram video of dish

But the final product that Wei conjured looked nothing like the dish in the photo published.

A simple side-by-side comparison of the website photo and the dish in the Instagram video would have set alarm bells ringing in the NYT office.

Alas, no.

Original recipe clearly not used properly

According to Coconuts, Das has since clarified that she had provided her father's recipe for curry chicken to Wei, but she is not sure what happened after that.

As proof that Das' family does curry chicken that looks like real curry chicken, she provided a photo of her own homecooked curry chicken dish for good measure.

via Coconuts via Das

Currently, it is unclear how much creative licence was accorded to Wei for her to make Das' recipe her own, or if Wei's interpretation is legitimately how she has been cooking her curry chicken, or if she was just ad-libbing for the camera in this one instance.


Responses on the Instagram video have been about expressing one's befuddlement at what was going on, to not comprehending anything anymore.

Some of these comments include:

Is this satire

This is culturally illegal

Yo that's not curry, that's just spice water

As a Singaporean... I'm disappointed. We need to call upon Uncle Roger for this.

And one person took to TikTok to diss the dish, by calling it "longkang" (drain) water chicken, which will be regarded as a travesty by Indian mothers: "I'm Indian, if I show this to my mother, immediately heart attack."

@boblet21 #sgtiktok ♬ original sound - Boblet

What went wrong?

Clearly, there is no such generic thing as "Singaporean Chicken Curry".

Chicken curry comes in many forms, all done differently by the Peranakans, Chinese, Indians, Malays, and Eurasians.

But essentially, curries found in Singapore have copious amounts of chillies and curry powder, a blend that includes turmeric and ginger, which are used to cook chicken and potatoes into a fiery red and orange dish.

Wei's version clearly lacked the spices that provide the colour and punch of "authentic" Singaporean Chicken Curry.

Top photo via NYT Cooking Instagram

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