News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Getahead » Food » Recipe: Vegetable Singapore Curry Laksa Soup

Recipe: Vegetable Singapore Curry Laksa Soup

April 18, 2024 13:29 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

Photographs: Zelda Pande

On some days, especially during weekends, till noon, all that my husband and I have spoken about, in great detail, is food.

When I realise that it's kinda embarrassing. Are we a pair of gluttons?

"Is the fact that we have only discussed khaana since 8 am a sign of what our relationship has become? Or is it what keeps us together?" I wondered to the hubby the other day.

As usual he had not much of an answer and mumbled something, perhaps funny, that I could not fathom. That's another relationship milestone.

When you have lived with someone for too long most of the conversation is about shouting from the next room, "What did you say? I can't hear you."

The truth is that our lives do revolve around cooking, cookbooks, newly discovered Instagram dishes, recipes received on e-mail and the endless meals we are planning to put together.

We often cook in tandem -- I roll the parathas and he fries them; I beat the eggs with the toppings and he makes the omelets.

Or one or the other of us is whipping up something in the kitchen, while other waits for the latest offering drooling -- baking pita or frying dosas or barbecuing paneer, gankar (liti), bharta and something non-vegetarian.

And talk is always meandering between: How to best use kaffir lime leaves.

Where to get the softest pav.

What to prepare in the slow cooker my daughters gave my husband for Christmas?

The best way to eat laksa paste.

How to trim basil.

Why one should store coconut oil for cooking in the fridge.

Why my husband's mother's recipe for South Indian biryani has mint in it?

Whether alus should be boiled in the air fryer?

The best 'hack' (the hubby's fave preoccupation) for crisping gone-soft potato chips in the microwave.

Blah blah blah.

What's more daft is that we have created a WhatsApp group between us, where we send only recipes to each other. That amuses our younger daughter no end. But she did not deign to join it.

We gab so much about food and meticulously schedule grand meals that when my younger daughter's boyfriend first ate a number of dinners at our dining table he finally asked my daughter, "Do you all only talk about food?!"

The recipe below is the result of one of our weekend chitchats. I faithfully follow fun New Zealand chef Andy Hearnden (who is always devotedly cooking for 'Babe' -- 'Whatya wanna eat, Babe?') on Instagram and he had put up an elaborate recipe and video for a meat and seafood Singapore Curry Laksa Soup.

The soup sounded delightful but I don't eat meat or fish so I adapted it for a veg palate and added one or two more spices and was quite taken aback with the results; smitten actually. So was the husband, who loves his vegetarian food too and refused my offer to mix in some fish sauce in his bowl.

Every kind of flavour is represented in this Vegetable Singapore Curry Laska Soup and your tastebuds are in for a rocking roller coaster ride.

A bit similar to Khow Suey, the main difference between a Singapore Laksa and Khow Suey is that egg noodles are used, in addition to a garnish of deep fried egg noodles in Khow Suey. And the preferred meat for a Khow Suey is chicken.

Vegetable Singapore Curry Laksa Soup

Serves: 2-3


For the laksa paste base

  • 2-inch piece fresh haldi or turmeric, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2-inch piece galangal or Thai ginger, peeled finely chopped
  • 2 fresh red or green chillies, finely chopped
  • 10 kaffir lime or makroot leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 shallots or small white onions, finely chopped
  • 10 curry pattas or curry leaves, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic pods
  • 1 thick stalk lemon grass, discard the green and retain the base and cut into 2-inch pieces

For the soup

  • 2 long pieces baby corn, sliced lengthwise and then chopped
  • 1/4 of zucchini, chopped, skin on
  • Few florets broccoli
  • 1 tbsp store-bought laksa paste (please see the note below)
  • Salt to taste, about 2 tsp
  • Dash sugar or jaggery or palm sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Water
  • 200 ml coconut milk
  • Juice of 1 small neebu or lime

For the garinish for serving

  • 350 gm tofu
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • Oil to deep fry the tofu and the onion
  • 100 gm uncooked rice noodles, soaked in boiling hot water for 30 minutes till soft
  • Few handfuls mung sprouts or any sprouts
  • 2-3 tbsp store-bought laksa paste
  • Wedges of lime
  • 3 tbsp chopped dhaniya or green coriander or cilantro

IMAGE: Pestling the ingredients for a homemade laksa paste.


For the laksa paste

  • Pound the ingredients as thoroughly as you can in a mortar and pestle till a rough paste.
    Keep aside.

For the garnish

  • Pat the whole cake of tofu dry with a kitchen towel.
    Cut the tofu into ½-inch pieces and deep fry in a small kadhai or frying pan over high heat till golden and drain from the oil onto a paper towel or tissue-lined plate.
    Keep aside.
    The tofu has high-water content and the oil will splatter, so take care.
  • Deep fry the sliced onion, like you would birasta, till crisp and golden brown, not black.
    Ideally drain from the hot oil, onto a paper towel or tissue-lined plate a few minutes before they really begin to darken because they will continue cooking even when they come out of the oil.
    Keep aside.
  • Drain the soaked and softened rice noodles and chop, with a pair of kitchen scissors into 2-inch size pieces so they are easier to eat.
    Keep aside.

For the soup

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over low heat and add in the freshly-pounded laksa paste and fry for about 10 minutes, stirring all the time or it will stick and burn.
    Now add in the store-bought laksa paste and the chopped vegetables and fry for 8-10 minutes more.
    Add in about 2 cups water, salt, sugar and bring to a slow boil.
  • Once the vegetables are tender, add in the coconut milk, and a little water, if required to get soup consistency and bring to a boil again and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes more.
    Take off heat and add the lemon juice.


  • Divide the rice noodles into two or three portions and place at the bottom of 2-3 soup bowls.
    Similarly add 1 small handful of sprouts to each bowl.
  • Now pour in the soup and try and fish out the lemon grass sticks and fibre.
    Garnish each bowl of soup with a few pieces fried tofu, a sprinkling of dhaniya, sprinkling of fried onions and drizzle 1-2 tsp store-bought laksa paste into each bowl.
    Serve hot.

Zelda's Note: It took me a little bit of time to find laksa paste. It is not a heavily stocked or a popular item. I tracked down an Indian-made vegetarian version with Guntur chillies in it on Amazon by Awe Foods (my husband has fallen in love with it and eats it like thecha on bread and rotis and I have had to hide it. Refrigerate the paste after opening). Lee Kum Kee also markets laksa paste in India and so does Woh Hup.

Kaffir lime leaves are essential to this recipe and so is Thai galangal. These ingredients are usually sold at larger vegetable markets and gourmet grocery stores that stock exotic vegetables. Trikaya, which sells the largest range of exotic vegetables and flowers, that are grown on their farms in Maharashtra and Ooty, has outlets or delivers to your door in Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi and Bengaluru.

Broccoli, zucchini, baby corn were the vegetables I chose for this soup. But you could also try a little mushrooms or red bell peppers (red capsicum) or maybe a few handfuls finely chopped spinach. Julienned carrots might do nicely too. Add only small quantities of veggies as there is a lot going on already in this soup, ie enough 'disturbance' as my colleague terms it.

I opted to make this soup vegetarian and it didn't lack for much according to the hubby, but go ahead and add in a few cleaned prawns and fish sauce (please note: Fish sauce has a lot of salt in it, so adjust salt accordingly). Or mix in 2-3 tsp shrimp paste or a non-veg laksa paste. In Hearden's recipe he also added chicken pieces and soup stock.

How Ho 3 mm rice stick noodles (available online) was what I used. They are a tad thicker, but any rice noodle should work.

This recipe is mild with only a small amount of spice. Up the chilly quantities, if you like heat.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: