It is said that there is no such thing as Indian Rojak in India. Well, if you think about it, it does make sense since “Rojak” is a Malay word and Indian Rojak is found only in Singapore and Malaysia. As to where Indian Rojak actually started, the details are still vague at this point. I was told that that the dish came about because the Indian community adapted the idea from watching their Malay friends selling rojak and came up with their own version of it. In Singapore, the sauce is usually served separate from the ingredients. However, if you head up to Penang where the dish is known as Pasembur, the sauce is poured over the ingredients and so it looks more like the Malay style rojak.
It is getting more difficult to find good Indian Rojak in Singapore. Many stalls nowadays buy the items from suppliers and merely resell them. So the number of good Indian Rojak stalls can be counted with one hand. This sentiment is echoed on our facebook fanpage when I posed the question of where the good Indian rojak places are. However, there was one Indian Rojak stall that was recommended by quite a few of our fans and it happened to be one which I have not blogged about yet. So I decided I must visit them so that I have at least a few stalls to list on the upcoming ieatishootipost iphone App.
A good Indian Rojak can really make you sway your head like the Indian man in the video. The key to the dish lies in that fiery red gravy which is actually more fierce on the eyes than on the tongue. Don’t you think that the gravy is more similar to Mee Rebus than rojak? Both gravies are pretty sweet and are thickened with root vegetables. In the case of Indian Rojak, mashed up sweet potatoes form the base of the gravy which is spiked with chilli powder and other spices to give it some kick.
Most of the dough balls and prawn fritters are made here although the stall does buy some of the other items like Ngoh Hiang and fish cakes from the suppliers. The prawn fritters and dough balls are excellent and they are freshly fried when you order. The sauce has a nice balance of sweet, spicy and savoury and is highly addictive. If you haven’t eaten Indian Rojak for a long time, this will make you fall in love with it all over again. 4.5/5
If you need an excuse to eat bone marrow, I’ll give you not one but two excuses. First, bone marrow is nutritious. Even though it is made up of fat, it is the good sort of primordial unsaturated fat which is packed full of vitamins and substances which has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. The second excuse is the Sup Tulang here.
I must admit that I haven’t really eaten enough Sup Tulang to tell you whether this is the best out there, but it is much better than the one that Anthony Bourdain or Bobby Chin featured on their show. Haji Kadir might be Singapore’s most famous Sup Tulang, but I never really did like Sup Tulang until I ate the Al Mahboob version. Now, whenever I have to read blood test results which involve white or red blood cells, the image of me scooping the marrow out with the handle of the plastic spoon invariably gets re-enacted for a split second and I find myself wanting to head to Al Mahboob to satisfy my bloodlust. Like the Indian Rojak gravy, the sauce for the Sup Tulang is just right. It is a completely different sauce from the Indan Rojak gravy though. Although there is a strong mutton flavour it is nicely balanced by the fragrance of the spices and the sweetness of the sauce. Just a word of advice. If you don’t want your fingers to have an orangey hue for the next 2 days, bring some gloves! 4.5/5
When they coined the names Mee Kuah and Sup Tulang, they must have gotten them mixed up. Sup is supposed to be, well, soup and Kuah is supposed to be gravy. Paradoxically, Sup Tulang is served with a gravy while Mee Kuah is served in a soup. But here’s the deal, they are both the same soup/gravy. I was told that Mee Kuah used to be sold with a single bone of mutton but because the bone got so popular, people started to order just the bone marrow and so was born Sup Tulang. So if you are eating Sup Tulang and can’t get enough of that gravy and want some extra carbs, then you can order a Mee Kuah! I am not huge on these spicy, hearty dishes but my makan kaki, OMark is and he gave it his thumbs up! 4.25/5
I was kinda hoping that the Mee Goreng at the stall might be good ‘cos after having the wonderful rojak, Sup Tulang and Mee Kuah, the Mee Goreng ought to be of a certain standard too right? Unfortunately it’s not. It’s been a good long while since I had a Mee Goreng that I can rave about. Actually come to think about it, I don’t think I have ever had a Mee Goreng that great. Know of any? 3.5/5
Really good Indian Rojak and Sup Tulang are not easy to come by and this gem of a stall in Tampines is worth traveling for if you are trying need to satisfy that hankering for all things red!
Update 18 Oct 2013
They are now in their own restaurant which is air-conditioned! It is still located in the same building but they are no longer part of the food court.
Update 18 Apr 2018
They have moved to a swanky new place at Tampines Central!
Al Mahboob Indian Rojak