Gulf News Food Show’s Singapore Hammour curry - a taste of spice and tradition

Gulf News Food Show’s Singapore Hammour curry - a taste of spice and tradition

Packed with aromatics, this recipe is perfect for a comforting family meal

Video Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/ Gulf News

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours

Serves: 4


1 Hammour (approx 1 kg with innards removed and descaled)

Singapore sauce

200 gms Marinara sauce

100 gms Singapore chilli paste

80 gms Coconut milk

30 gms Light soy sauce

20 gms Fish sauce

45 gms Jalapeno

40 gms Garlic

10 gms Dry chilli

25 gms Lemon grass

30 gms Chicken stock 

5 gms Coriander leaves

5 gms Spring onions

Marinara sauce

400 gms Red onion, (julienned)

200 gms Garlic

2 kg Italian Roma tomatoes, peeled

100 ml Olive Oil

10 gms Fresh basil

Singapore chilli paste

5 gms Kaffir leaves

5 gms Lemon grass stalk

10 gms White sugar

10 gms Salt

160 gms White pumpkin seeds

85 gms Red onion

85 gms Garlic

36 gms Dry chilli

16 gms Red Thai chilli

16 gms Ginger


Marinara sauce:

Crush all the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Set aside.

Heat a large pot and add olive oil. Sweat out the onions and chopped garlic over a low flame until fully cooked, then add the crushed tomatoes.

Simmer and cook for at least two hours until fully reduced and thickened, then add basil, salt, and pepper.

Singapore chilli paste:

Add oil to a pan over a medium flame. Add julienned red onions and let it sweat. Add garlic, fresh chilli, ginger, and dry chillies. Then, add pumpkin seeds and cook on low heat until fully cooked, for approximately 1 hour. Add kaffir leaves, lemongrass stalk, and season. Then puree and strain. Set aside.

Singapore curry:

Add oil to a pan and sweat the garlic, Kashmiri chillies, chopped jalapeno, and lemon grass stalk in a pot over medium flame until just cooked.

Add Singapore chilli paste and marinara sauce. Then add chicken stock and simmer.

Continue to stir until the paste is fully cooked. Simmer for one hour, then season with fish sauce, soy sauce, coconut milk, and fresh lime.

For the fish fry:

Get 1 kg of hammour. You can either cut it into pieces or keep it whole. (A flakier, lighter fish works best). Score the fish so that it cooks evenly. Season with salt, pepper, and chilli powder. Dust with cornstarch and shake out the excess. Fry at 350°C for eight minutes or until the fish is cooked. Set aside.

To assemble:

To serve, put the sauce down and lay the fish on top of a plate. Add basil, coriander, and spring onion, and serve it with rice or mantou!


1. Peel a couple of carrots in the sauce while cooking and remove them once it is done. This will give the sauce more taste and make it less acidic.

2. White pumpkin seeds can be used in recipes that use peanuts or cashews for a mild flavour and thick curry consistency.

3. It is a versatile curry base that you can use for any vegetables and protein of your choice.

4. The pro tip hack is to make the base and freeze it for future use. Makes for a great gift to friends who could use a homemade comfort meal that's easy to access or for your next meal!

Singapore curry is one of the most iconic dishes in Singaporean cuisine, and my mother makes it for us once a month as a Sunday family treat. This is her version of the iconic sauce, to which she adds a touch of tomato in order to add acidity and balance to the dish. She would go to the fish market early in the morning to buy the whole fish; then, she would start toasting and grinding the spices. By the time we woke up, a pot of curry would be cooking, wafting the aroma through the home. Always served with rice, we would eat the curry for every meal throughout the day as my parents would be away working on the weekends.

- Kelvin Cheung is the award-winning chef and partner of Jun's, Downtown Dubai.

Do you have a favourite recipe to share? Write to us at

More From Cooking-Cuisines

This website stores cookies on your computer. These cookies are used to improve your experience and provide more personalized service to you. Both on your website and other media. To find out more about the cookies and data we use, please check out our Privacy Policy.