Yesterday.sg's Imprint series which looks at all things memorable from our childhood to old-school things still revered today. To start things off - what breakfasts did you grow up with?
Putu mayam, the South Indian dish of steamed rice flour vermicelli scented with pandan, and served with fresh shredded coconut and sugar. Back in the old days, the sugar for putu mayam was dark brown, like gula Melaka shavings. I reckon it yielded also a richer and more complex sweetness. Today it's this bright orange powdery sugar.
Nasi lemak is a fond favourite of all races in Singapore. Fragrant coconut rice with spicy sambal chili, fried anchovies and peanuts, a fried egg or omelette, slices of cucumber are the must-have basics. For a more luxurious dish, you can include more toppings like fried chicken wings, otak-otak, fried ikan kuning, or sambal achar. It's long been one of the most convenient "takeaway" food, wrapped in banana leaves (not only does it infuse some flavour, but it is environmentally friendly and biodegradable).
Hakka Abacus Seeds
The Hakka made good use of a very hardy and portable root vegetable - the yam - to make "suan pan zi" or abacus seeds. These yam 'gnocchis' are fried with dried shrimp, mushrooms, minced pork and garlic, and topped with fried shallots. It takes skill to get the right bouncy and chewy texture for the yam discs.
Roti prata is also another dish that's popular with all races. Even in its simplest form of "prata kosong" (empty prata), it is a delicious breakfast. Do you like it with sugar or with curry? Today, the prata has evolved to include many variations and fillings, like mushroom and cheese, banana and honey, and even ice cream! But nothing beats a good old crispy prata kosong for me!
A good cup of traditional coffee goes so well with a platter of freshly toasted sandwich of kaya (coconut custard jam) and salty butter. For added protein, down it all with some half-boiled eggs dressed with soy sauce and pepper. All best enjoyed in a kopitiam setting, with a morning paper or good company.
Do you remember what breakfast you loved best as a child? Is it different from what you like to eat today?