Singapore’s society is famously multi-cultural and around 9% of it consists of people of Indian origin. Within that bracket about half are Indian Muslim and this group has a distinct cultural heritage and spices up the culinary landscape of the city-state with a few traditional dishes. Although it does originate from North India, Biryani can be found all over South-East Asia and even in some African countries. In fact it can be found in most places which have an Indian Muslim presence – like Singapore.
I would like to bring one Bryani shop to your attention, which you are unlikely to find by yourself – even if you live in Singapore. It’s not remote nor is it hidden, but it’s inconspicuous, on a small street, surrounded by hardware shops and frequented almost entirely by local Indian patrons. I have been many times over the years and never saw any westerners. This only adds to its authenticity in my opinion, but the real reason I like to go back regularly, is the extraordinary Bryani that is served there.
A One Restaurant
The A One Restaurant on 17A Birch Road is where is happens: every day from 10:30am to 4pm and from 5:45pm to 10:45 pm. It advertises itself as a restaurant that serves Chettinad food (from the South-Indian state of Tamil Nadu).
As you walk in, there is a large display of dishes on the left along with two large pots containing the precious yellow rice. The two large pots contain two variants of the Biryani dish – chicken and mutton. In addition various add-ons and starters can be selected from the display, such as shrimps, squid, fried fish, fish-paste buns (similar to falafel), as well as a dish of chicken or mutton with sauce. These come in small portions, which can easily be shared. Biryani is not the only meal served here – you could go for any of the dishes on display and combine it with prata, chapathi or a dosai and wash it down with a mango lassi or teh tarik (a kind of spiced up tea with condensed milk).
Biryani (or Briyani as it is spelled here)
However in my mind, the main attraction of this shop is the Biryani rice, which I will invariably order upon each visit. The way the rice is cooked – with spices and vegetables – gives it a unique color, texture and great flavor. In combination with the salad and gravy that are served alongside it, you get a great mix of flavors. In addition the chicken or lamb meat is tender and delicious.
The prices at A One are higher than at hawker stalls, but quite reasonable compared to many non-hawker options in Singapore. The chicken and lamb Biryani are $8 SGD and $8.50 SGD respectively.
And if you would like to prepare the dish yourself, there goes the recipe – for 800 people 🙂