Appam and Putu Mayam from Heavens

  • Add: Heavens (#02-08),Kampung@Simpang Bedok, Level 2, Bedok Market place, 348 Bedok Rd
  • Opening Hours: 8am to 9pm daily, closed on Sundays
  • Photos by: iPhone4+instagram

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In line with the feature article of today’s Sunday Life!’s Taste section, I am excited to write about an awesome post-40km-bike-ride breakfast I had with my fellow rider/foodie friends 2 weeks ago.

I first caught wind of Heavens putu mayams from the January 21st 2013 article on ieatishootipost and have been craving for it. So, it was a happy coincidence that JNg suggested a stopover at Bedok Simpang for some appams and putu mayams as part of our little cycling gang’s celebratory breakfast on the 初三-shred-those-CNY-fats ride that took us from Bedok to Changi Village and back. Heavens was located on the 2nd level of the market place and I must say it isn’t all too wheel-chair or elderly friendly because the only way up there was climbing up a flight of stairs. Good pre-meal workout for us as we had to haul our bikes up.

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Part of my childhood memories involved mum bringing home packs of putu mayam treats after her weekly jaunts to the wet market at Bedok South. But of course, as a child, all that I was ever interested in was the orange sugar that goes with it. In fact, I think the sugar was the main dish rather than the putu mayam itself! That being said, my palette and food preferences got a little more sophisticated as I grew up (thank God) and authenticity is what I harp on nowadays.

Mr Daniel Surendran (a budding food-entrepreneur at the age of 25!) runs this cosy little store with his young wife. Both clad in dri-fit shirts and shorts when we visited, they operate in a no-frills fashion as a husband/wife team with the Mrs taking orders and manning the cashier while the Mr hovered around the stoves and iron-cast pans.

For those who have absolutely NO clue as to what appams and putu mayams are, I promise, I won’t judge (erhem). Hopefully, Valeebelly would be able to enlighten you 🙂

Putu Mayams are rumoured to have originated from Tamil Nadu, southern India. It is made from mixing rice flour with water and milk. The resulting mixture is then squeezed through a wooden contraption onto pieces of banana leaves (for aromacity) and steamed. You can think of it as a delicate beehoon pancake! (for the chinese). Putu Mayams are served with orange sugar and shredded coconut.

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Appams have a more colorful origin. According to Wiki, it is a staple diet of the Syrian Christians of Kerala, India. Made from fermented milk and rice flour, it resembles a fluffy pancake with crazily crispy sides. And just to be honest with you, I had no idea what they were till I had my first bite of it at Heavens.

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As mentioned a few paragraphs above, I love authenticity. So what drew me to Mr. Surendran’s stall?

  • His mom (Letchmi) is the owner-chef of the famous Ghim Moh’s Heavens Indian Curry. I believe  cooking genes get passed on from generation to generation.
  • As a kid, he used to sell putu mayams with his aunt. (they weren’t freshly made though)
  • He travelled to India to purchase those wooden molds and sampled a few variations of it. Such dedication!
  • I saw those putu mayams steamed before my very eyes!

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We tried about every single dish on that day, my foodie-biking partners and I. Thosai, Appams and Putu Mayams (so much for our original plan to burn off those ba-kwas and pineapple tarts – snorts-). Maybe its the novelty of eating appams for the first time but to me, they were outstanding! I had the Princess Appam (appam with egg,butter and cheese), a heavy choice in my opinion but still really great. Fluffy and soft in the middle, crispy and aromatic at the edges. The putu mayams tasted really wholesome too. It packed a little more oomph than the bland ones you get from outside. Of course, the distinction is really subtle but I guess having it steamed fresh instantaneously made me a happy diner. Their thosais were normal. Chutneys were however blended really evenly and proportion of spices and coconut were just right.

In a country like ours where good food are found at almost every corner, it is the souls behind every plate of grub that gives our dining experience an added edge. To me, I found the Surendran couple’s earnestness and desire to carry on a hawker tradition slowly dying out among young Singaporeans really admirable. That is why I feel happy to speak up for this eatery as I think it takes heaps of courage to quit stable jobs and take up a ‘risky’ profession like this. You could see that they were greenhorns in the business as both were having some difficulty coping with the overwhelming orders of appams and putu mayams pouring in on that day. I saw the chef discarding a few burnt appams along the way because he was too engrossed with preparing the other orders.

The most defining moment of the morning came about when I asked Mr Surendran why they are closed on Sundays (putu mayams and appams make excellent Sunday brekkies no?). His reply was: “If we open on Sundays, we wouldn’t be able to attend church. And going to church is important to us.” Wowie!

Read up more about the social entreprise venture that is going on at Simpang Bedok in Sunday Life! today and do make a visit to Heavens to taste those wonderful appams cooked using authentic India-made iron-cast pans.

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