Mystery Solved: ‘S’porean Curry Chicken’ is Actually Chicken Biryani

Do you still remember a week ago, The New York Times decided to do a feature about how multicultural Singapore celebrated the Chinese New Year, only for the “Singaporean Curry Chicken” to end up in an absolute disaster?

Image: (@nytcooking)

To give it a nicer description, it looks like overcooked chicken chunks stewed in unprocessed sewage water, with spices arbitrarily thrown in and paper-shredded onions to match.

I could be more creative with the insults, but I reckon the Instagram comments have that  more than covered. 

Turns out, the problem was never the given recipe, but rather how the American newspaper had misconstrued the recipe, turning what was supposed to be a chicken briyani to a “Singaporean Curry Chicken” instead.

Let’s hear the story from the woman herself, shall we?

Ms Shila Das’ Chicken Briyani Recipe

Reportedly, The New York Times (NYT) had interviewed Ms Shila Das on 21 January for an exclusive feature on how the multicultural Singapore celebrated its Chinese New Year, and in exchange, the 51-year-old woman had proffered her chicken briyani recipe.

Ms Das, a vice-president of global sales for a medical devices company, then told the newspaper how she would always cook the chicken briyani and bring it to her best friend’s family home to celebrate the Chinese New Year with her.

After learning that her recipe would be in a feature, her friends had even gotten in touch with her to congratulate her.

However, what Ms Das could never have expected was that her late father’s chicken briyani recipe would be separated into two parts—Nasi Briyani and Chicken Curry—after it landed in the hands of the Taipei-based NYT writer Clarissa Wei.

In fact, Ms Das had anticipated that there would be trouble the moment she saw the publishing of the Singaporean Chicken Curry.

True to her predictions, the bastardised recipe generated much controversy and a torrent of hate mail, with some even reaching out to her LinkedIn account just to lambast her.

The External and Internal Reactions

In an interview with The Straits Times, she told the reporters that those hate mails would ask what type of curry she gave, and even questioned if she was truly Singaporean.

Understandably, these comments were quite hurtful, to say nothing of how her treasured family recipe had been irrevocably ruined online.

Thus, she got in touch with the writer and inquired if the video could be removed “because it looked wrong”, but The New York Times simply told her to ignore the hate mail.

For that, you can only say that the American paper has never experienced the persistence and the lengths in which Singaporeans will go to complain.

The Straits Times also attempted to reach out to Ms Wei through WhatsApp, but was redirected and told to send an e-mail to the paper instead.

To this day, how the recipe managed to become such a mess is a mystery to Ms Das.

The True Worth of Das’ Chicken Briyani

In order to prove that there was nothing wrong with her recipe, Ms Das did an interview with Coconuts and even posted a picture of what the Chicken Briyani was supposed to look like.

Image: Coconuts, via Shila Das

Furthermore, Das has even made a video with The Straits Times, showing the exact steps of how the chicken briyani is made, which largely differs from Wei’s Instagram version.

Simply put, it looks delicious, and seems fairly simple to follow.

After watching the video, I honestly want to ask Ms Clarissa Wei…

How did you manage to screw up the recipe that badly, because I’m fairly sure the recipe was sent to you in English?

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Featured Images: Coconuts & Instagram (@nytcooking) & YouTube (The Straits Times)