I have never understood nor appreciated my mother’s style of cooking. I couldn’t figure why, when everybody’s curry was watery and with lots of coconut milk, hers was always dry and full of ingredients. I couldn’t understand why she was always pounding and pounding spices, when you could just buy curry powder in the market. I simply love a few versions of her curries but they could never be purchased outside the house.

Yes, I know that my mother was born an Indonesian, but I have no clue, as a kid, why the food should be different from other Singaporeans. It is not Hokkien, not Cantonese, not Peranakan, not Malay. Don’t know what that was. Those were the 70s and early 80s.

It was only when Indonesian restaurants start to sprout around Singapore in the mid 1980s or so, that I finally get to see food that we eat everyday served outside my home. It was only when I got married and realized what I thought was Chinese food is not really Chinese food, Chinese don’t really cook with spices everyday. My dad’s cooking was Chinese. Mum’s was not at all. No wonder my dad had to learn how to make curries from mum. I also realized my mother could master the use of spices without ever talking about it. She was forever asking me to pound spices, and I would dread that.

Every day, every meal, I would have to sit on the floor and go apounding away on the mortar. It is only after I grew up, that I realized that is part of my family tradition.

The tahu telor is a dish that is Indonesian and so easy to make. Many restaurants use the tahu telur mould to shape it nicely, we just use freehand, pancake style. I do not have one in this kitchen today.

It is one of the dishes many people like, yet so easy to prepare. When we think Indonesian, we’ll always remember this dish. Every family has a different version of it. I like mine just full of taugay and sometimes, cucumber.

Tahu Telur (Bean Curd Omelette)

Tahu Telur (Bean Curd Omelette)


2 pressed bean curd (taokwa), cut into 1-cm cubes (you can use egg tofu if you like soft texture)

3 eggs

1 bunch spring onions, sliced thinly

1 chili, sliced thinly (optional)

Pinch of salt and pepper

1/2 cup of oil

Sauce ground coarsely together, then cooked to reduce

1/2 cup peanuts, lightly fried

3 shallots

3 cloves garlic

2 red chilies

1/2 cup of water

3 tablespoons Kechap manis

Pinch of salt and pepper


1/2 cup of bean sprouts and sliced cabbage, blanched

Fried shallots

Sliced chilies


  1. In a pan, heat the 1/2 cup of oil to medium heat.
  2. Fry the bean curd briefly, then remove from the oil.
  3. Beat the eggs, add the spring onions, chili, salt and pepper.
  4. Mix the eggs with the fried bean curd.
  5. Heat up the oil to nedium-high heat and pour the mixture into the pan.
  6. Fry the omelette to golden brown and then flip over.
  7. Drain omelette and arrange on a plate.
  8. Add the toppings and then pour the sauce over.
  9. Serve with steamed white rice immediately.