SINGAPORE (AFP) – The New York Times pulled a video yesterday showing a Taiwan-based writer making a “Singaporean chicken curry” after furious critics in the city-state said it resembled sewage rather than a local dish.
Singaporeans are fiercely proud of their culinary traditions, which fuse influences from the country’s multi-ethnic population, and are sensitive to botched attempts by outsiders to portray their cherished dishes.
The controversy began when the Times posted a video this month on its “nytcooking” Instagram account showing Clarissa Wei, a Taipei-based American freelance journalist, demonstrating how to make a “Singaporean chicken curry”.
Social media in the city-state lit up with anger, with critics saying the end product looked like filthy drain water rather than an authentic local curry.
“I’m sorry but what even is this? As a Singaporean, I’ve never seen any version of chicken curry that looks like this from any of the major ethnic groups,” one comment on social media said.
Dubbed “Currygate” by the local media, the saga received non-stop critical coverage for days before the US outlet finally bowed to pressure and pulled the video. “After hearing your feedback, we’ve removed the video,” said a message on the “nytcooking” account, which has 3.4 million followers.
The video accompanied an article that Wei had written for the Times about the varied food enjoyed by Singaporeans during Lunar New Year celebrations.
Singaporean Shila Das contributed a recipe for chicken biryani for the piece, but the article split the recipe into two parts – one called Nasi Biryani and the other Singaporean Chicken Curry.
It was the curry recipe that Wei cooked in the video.
The Times conceded on Instagram that “the video demonstration didn’t faithfully follow the recipe” contributed by Das.
Das, who received hate mail after the video was uploaded, welcomed the decision to remove it.
“It is long overdue,” she was quoted as saying in Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper.