Photo by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
To try curry devil, click here for the recipe.
While Christmas feasts are often the highlight of the holiday season, for many Eurasians in Singapore, it is what comes the next day that truly excites them.
Boxing Day, after all, is when a fridge full of leftovers gets turned into something even better: Debal (pronounced "dee-bahl"), also known as curry devil or devil's curry, a multi-layered spicy stew that blends Western meats like glazed ham and roast beef with Southeast Asian ingredients such as ginger and fiery dried chilis.
The dish is a classic in Singapore's Eurasian cuisine, which first developed in the 19th century when Dutch, British, and Portuguese traders began migrating to Singapore and marrying into local families. The dishes that sprang up in Eurasian home kitchens were the country's original fusion food, combining elements of East and West to create new culinary traditions. Feng, for example, mixes together pork belly, pig's ears, kidney, stomach, liver, and intestines with white vinegar, popular with the British, and a heady cocktail of spices--fennel, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, to name a few.
Because some Eurasian dishes can be rather time-consuming to make, home cooks don't make them as often any more. Once a year, however, chef Damian D'Silva, who sells Western and Peranakan (or Straits Chinese) food at Big D's Grill in Singapore's Holland Village neighborhood, hunkers down to make a massive pot of traditional Boxing Day debal for his relatives and customers.