While turkey may be the bird of choice for Christmas, a traditional roast turkey can turn out dry and bland.
It is no wonder then that chefs here are increasingly looking for ways to spice up the festive bird to cater to Singaporeans, who generally have a palate for spicy food.
While spicing up turkeys is not new, there has been a surge this year as restaurants and hotels roll out flavours from laksa and Sichuan to nasi lemak and buah keluak.
Even side dishes and condiments have an Asian spin, with ketupat, glutinous rice, achar or chap chye thrown into the mix.
Restaurant owners and chefs say Singaporeans love the spicy options.
Of course, established Indian restaurants here are no strangers to spicing up the turkey.
Early birds on the scene include Rang Mahal at Pan Pacific Singapore, which started selling tandoori turkey in 2005. The one-Michelin-starred The Song Of India in Scotts Road sold its first tandoori turkey in December 2006.
The Song Of India's director of cuisine Manjunath Mural, 44, says: "We started off selling six turkeys. Now, we sell more than 60 during the festive period.
"Singaporeans are always on the hunt for different foods to try, so the choice of turkey has also became wider these days to accommodate their adventurous palates."
Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, which houses the Tandoor restaurant, introduced tandoori turkey two years ago and sells 120 to 140 turkeys in a month, with the tandoori turkey making up 40 per cent of the orders.
Mr Robert Han, group general manager of Peony Jade restaurant by The Quayside Group, says it sells up to 120 turkeys each year.
And it has now become tradition for the Bib Gourmand-rated restaurant to dish out its spicy turkeys, after it sold out its Kum Heong roasted turkey and nasi lemak sambal roasted turkey in previous years.
But if turkey is not your thing, there is also chicken, duck and goose - as more restaurants are offering alternatives for smaller gatherings. And instead of the usual ham, one can go for suckling pig.
The Sunday Times rounds up the places that are offering spicy poultry and suckling pig.
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HOLIDAY INN SINGAPORE ORCHARD CITY CENTRE
What: The hotel's popular tandoori turkey ($117.70, for up to 10 people) is served with masala potatoes. Another option is the Holiday Szechuan Turkey ($107, for up to 10 people), infused with chilli oil, Sichuan peppercorns and vinegar.
Where: Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre, 11 Cavenagh Road
What: The tandoori roasted turkey ($138+, or $118+ without stuffing, for six to eight people) is marinated for 24 hours with Rang Mahal's special blend of herbs and spices. It is stuffed with Kashmiri morel mushroom biryani and served with turkey reduction rogan gravy.
Where: Rang Mahal, Level 3 Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard
When: Dec 11 to Jan 1, order three days in advance
What: North Indian restaurant Shahi Maharani's tandoori turkeys are marinated overnight with spices, rose water and mint leaves. Each bird weighs about 4kg and is for up to eight people. The Shahi Tandoori Turkey ($125+) is served with makhni sauce, mint yogurt sauce or tomato chutney. The other version ($145+) is stuffed with minced meat biryani. The restaurant also sells whole tandoori chicken ($65+) and a stuffed tandoori chicken ($85+) with minced meat biryani.
Where: Shahi Maharani, 03-21B Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road
What: One-Michelin-starred The Song Of India features tandoori turkey stuffed with morel biryani ($136). Or get the whole tandoori capon with morel biryani ($68, good for four people). The restaurant also has a Christmas hamper ($248) which includes the stuffed tandoori turkey, spiced nuts, masala puff pastries and artisan chocolates.
What: Antoinette may be known for its sweet treats, but do not miss its laksa roast chicken ($55), served with pineapple pilaf rice and achar salad. It also comes in a combo ($110) with coffee-glazed ham.
Where: Two outlets, 30 Penhas Road; and 02-33/34 Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road
When: Until Jan 2, order four days in advance by Dec 21
Info: Call 6293-3121 or 6836-9527
APRICOT HERBAL BRAISED DUCK
What: Asian-influenced fusion restaurant Morsels has an apricot herbal braised duck ($138+, for four to six people) that is cooked with Chinese herbs such as dang gui, ginseng, yu zhu, chuan xiong and dried apricots. It comes with red cabbage kimchi, glutinous rice, shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts and a braising sauce.
Where: Morsels, 01-04, 25 Dempsey Road
When: Orders open until Dec 15 and collection is from Dec 19 to 24
What: At the Bakerzin chain of cafes, capon ($46) gets a Korean twist with gochujang (Korean hot chilli paste) and is stuffed with minced chicken, herbs and spices. It is served with gochujang and raisin sauces. It also comes as part of festive sets (from $89, for four to six people), which include a Coconut Passion Yule Log and festive macarons.
Where: Bakerzin outlets, such as at United Square, VivoCity and Tai Seng
When: Until Jan 1, order online by Dec 22, 2pm; order at outlets by Dec 29
What: Firebake's founder Konstantino Blokbergen offers a heritage dish from his childhood, prepared in the restaurant's signature woodfire ovens. The Festive Chicken ($50+) is slow-cooked in stock along with root vegetables and trumpet mushrooms.
When: Until Dec 31, order two days in advance (pre-order required for dine-in)
Info: Call 9784-2950 or 6440-1228
FRENCH CHALLANS DUCK
What: For hearty French fare, head to Bar-Roque Grill for its range of meats, especially the French Challans duck ($218), which is glazed with honey and five spice and served with vegetables and duck jus. Executive chef and co-owner Stephane Istel also offers stuffed capon ($320, 4kg to 5kg, for six to eight people), which comes with sides and gravy.
Where: Bar-Roque Grill, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road
When: Until Dec 31, order three days in advance
Info: Call 6444-9672
ROASTED RENDANG CHICKEN
What: Gourmet Carousel's takeaway list includes a roasted rendang chicken ($52), which comes with fragrant rice, sambal goreng and rendang gravy.
Where: Gourmet Carousel, Royal Plaza on Scotts, 25 Scotts Road
When: Until Dec 25, 11am to 9pm, last order by Dec 23, noon. Order three days in advance
What: For a completely different choice of bird, get Mandarin Oriental, Singapore's Chinese-style roasted Christmas goose ($140, for six to eight people), which is stuffed with apple and chestnut, roasted Brussels sprouts and potatoes and comes with a plum sauce and traditional giblet gravy.
What: Spice up your Christmas with One Farrer Hotel & Spa's Szechuan Spices Salt Crusted Turkey, specially created for The Straits Times readers.
Pick either the Szechuan Turkey with brandy-infused fruit cake bundle ($188 nett) or the same bundle complete with an ST Wine festive picks package of two bottles of wine ($318 nett). Self-collection only.
Where: One Farrer Hotel & Spa, 1 Farrer Park Station Road
When: Order by Dec 11 for self-collection on Dec 15 to 17 or by Dec 18 for self-collection on Dec 22 to 24
What: Peony Jade's Pineapple-Satay Roasted Turkey ($168+) is rubbed three times with satay sauce and blended pineapple sauce and accompanied by ketupat, onion, cucumber and pineapple. The turkey is also part of the Christmas Glee Party Set ($338), which includes Cantonese-style baked char siew ham and 20 sticks of satay.
The Bib Gourmand-rated restaurant also reprises some hot favourites - the nasi lemak sambal chilli roasted turkey ($168+), with coconut-infused basmati rice, anchovies, sambal boiled eggs and peanuts; and Kum Heong roasted turkey ($168+), served with stir-fried sambal snake beans and 12 pieces of mini buns stuffed with pickled onions and vegetables. The turkeys are also available for dine-in, pre-order required.
Where: Peony Jade, Keppel Club, 10 Bukit Chermin Road
When: Until Jan 1, order three days in advance by Dec 19, 5pm. Last day of collection is on Jan 1, from 11.30am to 6pm (weekdays), 10.30am to 5pm (weekends and public holidays)
What: The bird is first rubbed with laksa paste and stuffed with local herbs and spices, then slow-cooked in a salt-baked crust for four hours. It is part of the Star Christmas Package ($388), which includes a barbecued meat platter, a prawn platter and mango pudding with mango coulis, pomelo and sago.
Where: Atrium Restaurant, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, 317 Outram Road
ASSAM CURRY TURKEY BREAST AND TURKEY ROULADE LO MAI KAI
What: Baba Chews' takeaway menu pays homage to Katong's Peranakan influences. The Turkey Breast "Assam Curry" ($78+) features slow-baked turkey breast (2kg) in tamarind, rempah and curry sauce. Its Turkey Roulade "Lo Mai Kai" ($58+) is stuffed with turkey breast meat, carrots, dried shrimp, mushroom, and lup cheong - all wrapped in a crispy beancurd skin. It is served with glutinous rice.
Where: Baba Chews Bar and Eatery, 01-01 Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, Katong Square, 86 East Coast Road
When: Until Dec 25, 11am to 7pm daily, order three days in advance
What: Besides classic turkeys, Capella is offering a rendang turkey ($128+) where the bird is cooked in coconut milk and Asian spices. The Turkey Medley packages (from $188+)include a choice of turkey, roasted vegetables, pumpkin soup, stollen and panettone.
Where: Capella Singapore, 1 The Knolls, Sentosa
When: Until Dec 24, last day of order on Dec 21, 5pm, order three days in advance. Last day for self-collection or delivery is Dec 25, before 5pm
What: Pan Pacific Singapore offers a Peranakan Roasted Turkey served with nasi kunyit (turmeric rice). The turkey is also part of a Heritage Christmas Bundle ($268), which includes Nonya popiah with minced turkey and chendol logcake.
What: Go "Around the World in 'Turkey' Days" with the Goodwood Park Hotel's new deluxe platter ($128, for six people), which showcases turkey sriracha, turkey bulgogi puff, turkey gyoza and turkey shepherd's pie.
Where: The Deli, Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road
When: Until Dec 26, 9am to 9pm daily, order by Dec 19, 2pm
What: Sheraton Towers' turkey selection includes an oven-roasted turkey ($228) infused with lemongrass and Indonesian sweet soya sauce (kecap manis), served with nasi goreng stuffing and sambal roasted potatoes.
If poultry is not your thing for Christmas, go the whole hog with suckling pig instead.
Mr Ricky Ng, managing director of Blue Lotus Concepts International's chain of restaurants, has launched a Spanish-style suckling pig ($198++, order three days in advance) for the festive period. It is air-dried, marinated and slow-roasted for more than 36 hours.
It is available at Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House in Quayside Isle, Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House in Tanjong Pagar and Blue Lotus Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar in Alexandra Road.
For another Spanish-style rendition, look to Pim Pam by FOC in Orchard Road. Until Dec 31, it is offering a suckling pig ($78++ for 1kg, half or whole, order one day in advance) and the dish is available for dine-in too.
Over at the Orient Palace - a one-stop hub for dining, spa and entertainment at the Annex @ Furama RiverFront hotel - there is the traditional charcoal-roasted crispy suckling pig ($258, order six hours in advance).
And at Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, the hotel's oven-roasted suckling pig ($250, for eight to 10 people, order two days in advance) comes with potato salad, braised red cabbage, and a thyme and rosemary jus.
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