Deepavali, the festival of lights, is just around the corner, so it’s time for that biryani fix. By S. Sakthivel
No festival of lights is complete without a festive feast of murukku, Indian sweets, and most importantly — biryani.
Don’t fret if you haven’t snagged an invitation to a Deepavali shindig this weekend, this handy list will point you in the right direction.
We have picked nine popular biryani spots, oft recommended by foodies, to find the one that really hits the spot.
In this tasting, seven tasters graded the biryanis on three criteria — rice, meat, and the overall flavour and presentation of the dish. The scores were totalled up to see who came up tops. To ensure fairness in the comparison, this taste test pitted mutton biryanis from nine well-known shops.
To keep it going here are the next three…
6. Leeds Restaurant
$8.50 with curry and raita
Sitting in the nook vacated by the famed Blue Diamond Restaurant, Leeds Restaurant has big shoes to fill. Once the worst kept secret of Buffalo Road, Blue Diamond had built their sterling reputation on top drawer Dum Biryanis that featured on many foodie lists over the last two decades.
It would seem however that Leeds has some way to go. Though it was labelled as Dum Biryani, the mutton variation was sorely lacking in spice and flavour. The rice did have a great fragrance and a buttery taste that might appeal to some but lacked the oomph expected from a good dum biryani. The small portion of meat was dry, a little powdery, and definitely overcooked. It was also not accompanied by the dry spice/gravy usually associated with the dum biryani style.
The accompanying curry, aromatic with cloves, cinnamon, mint, and basil, helped to rescue the dish as a whole.
At $8.50, it is the third priciest on the list. It comes with raita and boiled egg on the side but more is expected at that price-point.
24 Buffalo Rd
$6 with curry, raita, and papadum
Probably the least well known on our list, Thambi’s is a hidden gem at the bustling Amoy Street Food Centre. A little different from the other entries, Thambi’s offers a Madras-style biryani. Typified by a darker coloured and more spiced/flavoured rice, this style is usually accompanied by smaller, leaner cuts of meat.
The rice was one of the most flavourful, with hints of chilli, ginger, garlic and mint but it was dry and seemed over cooked. The meat also suffered from the same dryness. While the flavour was satisfactory, the tasters found it to be gamy. It was accompanied by a korma on the side which was good but did not complement the dish when combined with the rice or the meat.
At $6, Thambi’s might be your best bet if you are looking for a Madras style biryani in the CBD. The chicken variety might be worth a shot.
7 Maxwell Rd
Amoy Street Food Centre
4. Allauddin’s Briyani
$5 with curry and achar
A Tekka Centre stalwart, Allauddin’s Biryani even got a mention in this year’s Michelin Guide. Long considered “the best” in the area, and definitely the most popular and well known, they only just missed out on the top three.
The mutton and the curry were the highlights here — the meat was rich in flavour and tender. The gravy had a great mouth feel, it was velvety but not overpowering or oily. It was packed with meaty flavour but was not too heavy, and the heat and spice were well managed (with a touch of sweetness) to appeal to different palates.
The rice, however, was a letdown — it seemed shorter grained, and a little soft and sticky. But in unison with the curry, its failings can go unnoticed.
It’s easy to see why they are popular, but the biryani was a little underwhelming given their fame. At $5, it offers the most value and should be a contender if you are heading to Little India.
665 Buffalo Road
#01-232 Tekka Centre, Tekka Market and Food Centre