Bunga Raya

Kari Kepala Ikan (Nyonya Fish Head Curry)

Awarded by Lincoln Tan, Senior journalist (diversity) New Zealand Herald and devoted foodie

This is a dish that is not often found outside Singapore and Malaysia - but it's here in Auckland. Origins of kari kepala ikan goes back to an Indian chef in Singapore who wanted his South Indian-style food to cater to Chinese customers. He started using fish head in curries because it was considered a delicacy by his target clientele. It proved so popular that now the Malay, Chinese and Eurasians in Singapore and Malaysia have made variations of this dish. I grew up on this, and my mum - a Straits-born Chinese or Peranakan - would cook a Nyonya-style version of this curry. The Nyonya version really packs a punch with its spicy, sour, fiery hot flavours and this is the version that's served in a little Malaysian restaurant in New Lynn. Bunga Raya has its own unique version. A bite of this takes me back home to Singapore and for those who know, this is most definitely the star dish on Bunga Raya's menu. Not the prettiest, but it's the dish that gives the greatest satisfaction by far.

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