Free Ramadan porridge, 10 years and counting

The queue for porridge at Mr Elangovan's Bedok North coffee shop yesterday. For the last decade, he has distributed porridge to hundreds of people every day during Ramadan.
The queue for porridge at Mr Elangovan's Bedok North coffee shop yesterday. For the last decade, he has distributed porridge to hundreds of people every day during Ramadan.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

A stout and jovial-looking Mr Dass Elangovan declared confidently: "A lot of people say the best porridge is the one at Block 527."

The queue that stretches from his Shaik Abdul Kader Al-Jailani Makan Place coffee shop in Bedok North to the pedestrian walkway outside shows something special is cooking.

Every day during the month of Ramadan, hundreds of people come for the free porridge that Mr Elangovan painstakingly cooks and distributes for free. He has been doing this every year for the last decade.

"We're happy to make this a multiracial event - Malays, Chinese and Indians can all come to enjoy the porridge," said the 50-year-old, who spends around $30,000 each year on the project.

The recipe was given to him by an acquaintance to cook for his family, but he used it as a way to help others in the community.

Beginning with one pot of porridge, he now cooks three a day, which can feed up to a thousand people. It takes him six hours to cook all the porridge.

Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Social and Family Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who helped to distribute the porridge to residents yesterday, said "it definitely has been successful in reaching out to the residents".

There are plans to expand the porridge distribution by delivering it to the homes of residents, he added.

Residents such as Azrui Malarouf, 46, are grateful for Mr Elangovan's efforts. "We can take the porridge for breakfast and it helps to build community ties between business owners and residents," said the aviation refueller, who has been a regular since the start of the initiative.

Mr Muhammad Abdul Kadir, 69, a director of Mr Elangovan's coffee shop business, helps with the porridge distribution.

"We'll carry this on for as long as we live," he promised.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 03, 2016, with the headline 'Free Ramadan porridge, 10 years and counting'. Print Edition | Subscribe