ALTHOUGH the Indonesians were the first to call skewered barbecued meat satay, a Singaporean restaurant chain in the territory is riding on its popularity. Since the first Satay Hut opened in the Houston Centre 11 years ago, the chain of three restaurants has become synonymous with spicy Singaporean dishes. With spices and ingredients from China, Malaysia, Indonesia and India, Singaporean food is hard to define, according to the restaurant's head chef, Mohammed Said. However, the nation's most popular dish is chai tau kway - turnip and radish patties - which is sold by street-stall vendors. Vegetables are shredded, mixed with flour, cornstarch and water and steamed, before being diced and fried with egg, prawns or meat. ''It is not a spicy dish but Singaporeans love it and it has been a popular item on our menus at the Satay Hut,'' said the chef, who started with the restaurant chain two years ago. ''In Singapore, most people eat from the roadside stalls where the food is fresh. ''In Hong Kong, we have to import many of the ingredients such as sambal, which is a chilli widely used in Singaporean dishes.'' Okra, a green vegetable originally from Malaysia, also is imported. Cooked with garlic, chilli, dried shrimp and coconut milk, sambal okra is served with rice. Another popular dish on the menu is Hainan chicken rice, which gets its traditional Chinese flavour by blending garlic, ginger and chicken stock. It is served with chilli, garlic and soy sauce. Sauces make Singaporean foods special,'' said Mr Said. ''Many are creamy, like the thick Indian sauces, but the one that is most associated with satay is peanut sauce, which is easy to make.'' Peanuts are crushed and blended with chilli, tamarind juice, lemon grass and salt. The mixture is then fried and served over the top of satay. Thick spicy bread, parata, is served with most meals and is similar to India's naan, he said. ''Singaporeans use more oil to cook the bread, unlike Indian chapati and naan. ''It is dipped in thick creamy, curry sauces.'' Many Singaporean dishes are served with a spicy coconut gravy, rendang, a blend of hot Indian chilli with tropical Malaysian coconut milk. However, in Hong Kong, Nonya cuisine, a blend of Malaysian and Chinese ingredients, was the most popular, said Mr Said. ''It is spooned on top of plain boiled rice, or can be eaten with roasted chicken or mutton,'' said Mr Said.