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The Singapore Connection by Cynthia Wee-Hoefer

Some words here to introduce the dinner menus at Apa Villas with a flavor of the heritage cuisine of the Peranakan or Straits-Chinese of my home country Singapore.

As far as we know, we are the first and only hotel in Sri Lanka that offers a selection from our indigenous Singapore cuisine.

The famous Peranakan or Nonya food is a unique blend of ingredients and cooking methods borrowed from the Indonesian archipelago, the Malayan peninsula and Thailand with the inherent palate handed down by our ancestors from China.

The cooking has evolved over generations by the migrant women folk who take fresh local herbs like chili, galangal, lemon grass, ginger, turmeric, candlenuts and shrimp paste and grind them into an aromatic wet pastes.

Depending on the desired taste, tangy tamarind juice or the rich milk from grated coconut makes the flavourful gravy.

Meat usually pork and chicken or seafood form the highlight of the dish but there is more. The cook adds a flourish of fragrant kaffir lime, torch ginger or laksa leaves to give that complexity of flavours that is the hallmark of Peranakan cuisine.

Cooking methods include steaming spicy seafood in parcels made from banana leaves or grilling chicken wrapped in the sweet scented pandanus leaves. There is Otak Blangah made with fillet of fish in a coconut-based curry that is typically Peranakan. Steamed Otak is fish cooked with a savoury custard of ground herbs mixed with coconut cream.

The Roasted Belly of Pork served in our Dinner Special is a hallmark of Chinese cooking found in the Chinatowns of the world capitals. The crunch of pork crackling and melting meat matched with chili vinegar sauce is available in Apa Villas.

We have in our special menu the famous Singapore Chili Crab of Sri Lankan crabs cooked in a sweet, spicy sauce of tomato, chili and lemongrass. It is a must-have for visitors to our island Singapore, so why not here in Apa Villas? However, large-sized live crabs are seasonal and must be ordered 24-hours in advance to source them from the North Western coast of Sri Lanka.

End the dinner with Nonya desserts - Kueh Dadar rolled pancakes filled with grated coconut cooked in palm sugar and topped with coconut cream or the popular Sago Pudding. Naga Sari with a fairytale meaning of Dragon Fairy is a blanc-mange made of coconut cream and banana slices steamed in banana leaf. Just as Ceylon was under British rule for 150 years, Singapore and Malaya was a Crown Colony that inherited a taste of some of the Western palate. We pay homage to this legacy with favourites like fish and chips, burgers, roasts and puddings in our All Day and Dinner Specials menus.

We are proud of our Apa Villa Rijstafel dinner that has become a signature offer for guests. The popular term used in Dutch East India refers to a table laden with small plates of vegetables, meats, curries, relishes, salads and house specialties served at once. You will enjoy jackfruit, passion leaf salad, belim (a kind of starfruit) and other exotic ingredients grown in our Illuketia gardens.

Our Dinner Specials are created for guests as we would in our home. If you have special dietary preferences, please inform our management in advance. Most of all, we sincerely hope that you will enjoy your meals with an appetite for a culinary discovery. Bon Appetit.