Even with business dwindling to just deliveries and takeout during the nationwide “circuit breaker”, the team behind Muthu's Curry is busier than ever.
On a regular day, the restaurant's central kitchen prepares the gravies, spice mixes, proteins and pre-cut vegetables for the restaurant’s signature dishes and distributes them to its three outlets across the island, including its flagship store on Race Course Road, which has a Bib Gourmand recommendation in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2020 for its value-for-money meals.
These days, it is churning out more than 5000 meals daily for the foreign workers’ dormitories on lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. According to statistics, coronavirus cases linked to migrant worker dormitories accounted for 88 percent of Singapore’s more than 14,000 cases as of April 28. At last count, more than 180,000 workers are affected by the authorities' stay-at-home order.
As the migrant workers are not able to use the communal kitchens in their dormitories to cook during this period, Muthu's Curry is one in a handful of professional caterers who has stepped forward to work with Singapore’s Ministry Of Manpower (MOM) to ensure the workers have access to freshly cooked, nutritious daily meals. Other participating caterers include Neo Garden and SATS, the in-flight catering service provider at Singapore Changi Airport.
The packed meals from Muthu’s Curry change every day but are always a combination of a rice, a vegetable and a meat, says Veshali Visvanaath, director of marketing and the wife of the restaurant’s chief executive Kasivishvanaath Ayyakkanu. “Some days we’ll have steamed rice or biryani, with a chicken masala or curry and vegetables. Even though these are simple meals, we make sure that they keep to the quality and standards of our restaurant,” she says.
“Even though these are simple meals, we make sure that they keep to the quality and standards of our restaurant.”
It has not been without its own challenges, such as getting a steady supply of ingredients for such a large daily order, keeping their costs within a set budget and even sourcing for the containers to pack the meals in individually. "Operationally, we are are completely stretched," says Visvanaath.
But the owners of Muthu’s Curry and their team continue to push themselves to meet their commitment, as providing their catering services in this manner not only means they are able to bring the comforting taste of home to the largely Indian and Bangladeshi migrant worker community, it also helps to keep their kitchens running and save livelihoods.
“This is also helping to keep our staff employed as many had to go on no-pay leave when the circuit breaker started,” adds Visvanaath. "So we will continue to do our best."
RECOMMENDED READING: Behind The Bib: Muthu’s Curry