Soup tulang



Soup tulang or bone soup is a dish consisting of mutton or beef bones stewed in a sweet and spicy red soup of mutton stock, tomatoes, ginger, chillies and spices. The dish is prized for the marrow contained in the bones.1 Although associated with the Indian Muslim community, the dish is considered a local innovation. 

Description
To make soup tulang, ginger, garlic and chilli are first ground into a paste, traditionally with a mortar and pestle. Cumin and coriander seeds are then fried in oil or ghee. The ground chilli paste is added to the spices along with fenugreek and sugar. Next, mutton bone, ribs or beef bone is fried with the mixture of chillies and spices. Mutton or lamb stock is then added to the mix together with tomato puree, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods.2 The tomatoes give a red hue to the stew.3 Bright red food colouring can also be added to enhance the soup’s blood-red appearance.4


The dish is served hot, with slices of bread on the side. Diners usually eat the dish using their hands rather than cutlery in order to get to the meat on the bones more easily. The marrow is sucked out directly from the bone using the straw provided or is deftly knocked out. The bread is used to mop up the soup.5

History
Soup tulang is associated with the Indian Muslim community but is considered a Singapore invention. It is believed to have been created in the 1950s at an Indian Muslim stall along Jalan Sultan run by a stallholder named Abdul Kadir. To make the stock for his mee kuah dish, Abdul used mutton bones that he later served as a side dish at the request of a patron.6


Abdul’s son, Mohamed Iqbal, continues to sell the fiery red stew consisting of chillies, tomatoes and mutton stock at his popular Haji Kadir stalls at the Golden Mile Food Centre and in Tampines.7 The Al-Sheik Mee Stall at the Adam Road Food Centre also became well known for its version of the soup flavoured with eggs, spices and various vegetables.8

Variants
The dish is similar to kambing soup (mutton soup), a dish also offered by Indian Muslim stalls. However, soup tulang is savoured for its bone marrow and is bright red in colour, while kambing soup is usually greenish-yellow in colour and features chunks of meat rather than bone in a light soup base.9


In Malaysia, sup gearbox (soup gearbox) is made from a bull’s knee joint. The bone marrow soup is made by stewing the bone for more than 12 hours to soften the flesh and cartilage. It is served with rice or bread. Malaysians usually end the meal with air akar kayu, a medicinal tonic that is believed to counter the high cholesterol content of the soup.10

Variant names
Sop tulang, sup tulang11 

Sup tulang merah12
Bone steak13
Mutton bone soup14
Mutton bone marrow soup15



Author

Bonny Tan




References
1. Wan, R., & Hiew, R. (2010). There’s no carrot in carrot cake. Singapore: Epigram Books, p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 641.30095957 WAN)
2. Basan, G. (2006). The food and cooking of Malaysia & Singapore. London: Aquamarine, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING q641.59595 BAS)
3. Che’az. (2011, February 22). Suck that bone dry. The Malay Mail. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
4. Wan, R., & Hiew, R. (2010). There’s no carrot in carrot cake. Singapore: Epigram Books, p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 641.30095957 WAN)
5. Basan, G. (2006). The food and cooking of Malaysia & Singapore. London: Aquamarine, p. 38. (Call no.: RSING q641.59595 BAS); Che’az. (2011, February 22). Suck that bone dry. The Malay Mail. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
6. Singh, G. (2003, June 23). Spicy revelations...Today, p. 34. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Meet the legends. (2005, July 31). The Straits Times, p. 26; Page 29 advertisements column 1. (2009, June 29). The New Paper, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Che’az. (2011, February 22). Suck that bone dry. The Malay Mail. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
9. Naleeza Ebrahim & Yaw, Y. Y. (2006). Not just a good food guide: Singapore. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 145. (Call no.: RSING 647.955957 NAL); Wan, R., & Hiew, R. (2010). There’s no carrot in carrot cake. Singapore: Epigram Books, p. 169. (Call no.: RSING 641.30095957 WAN)
10. Shift into gear with this soup. (2006, June 17). New Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
11. Wan, R., & Hiew, R. (2010). There’s no carrot in carrot cake. Singapore: Epigram Books, p. 171. (Call no.: RSING 641.30095957 WAN)
12. Che’az. (2011, February 22). Suck that bone dry. The Malay Mail. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
13. Che’az. (2011, February 22). Suck that bone dry. The Malay Mail. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

14. Heng, L. (2014, November 27). He even buys backdated copies. The New Paper. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/

15. Varidel, R. (2014, March 30). Multicultural on a plate. The Courier Mail. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/




The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
 

Subject
Indian cooking
Cooking (Lamb and mutton)
Ethnic foods
Cooking, Singaporean
Ethnic Communities>>Food
Cookery>>Types of meals>>Soups
Cookery>>International and regional cooking>>Indian