Having lived in Canada for the past year, I have become accustomed to having French pastries in the morning, crepes for lunch and the occasional foie gras, but I still refuse to believe there is any better food than at home – Singapore and Malaysia. Nasi Lemak, Char Kway Teow, these are all pretty popular choices, but it is the less conspicuous Nasi Briyani that I arguably miss the most.
Nasi Briyani is a traditional Indian rice-based dish accompanied by meat, vegetables and a gravy or curry. The long grain basmati rice is cooked with garlic, yogurt, aromatic spices, onions and sometimes with ghee or a substitute for this unique butter.
However, there are Malay variations of it as well. Hence, the word ‘Nasi’.
Nasi Briyani is my staple takeaway go-to in Canada; the portions are big so the meal lasts me an entire day or two, and above all, I like rice – it all made economical and gastronomical sense – but sitting in the comfort of my college dorm is not quite like the experience in Singapore.
I love how each Nasi Briyani in Singapore is different so here is a list of Nasi Briyanis that make me burp for joy!
1. Skeikh Indian Pakistani Food
Located in ABC Brickworks Hawker Centre, Skeikh Indian Pakistani Food Nasi Briyani ($5) is a good hour away from where I live but I would still make the journey there any day. This is the best Tandoori Chicken Nasi Briyani in town.
The fluffy rice, rich mutton gravy and melt-in-your-mouth tandoori chicken makes an excellent lunch combo. The gravy was spicy but not to the point that it masked the flavour of the saffron. The saffron scent, in particular, reminds me of my best friend’s mother’s cooking back in Kuala Lumpur.
Skeikh Indian Pakistani Food: 6 Jalan Bukit Merah, Singapore 150006, ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre, #01-12 | Tel: 8287 1410 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 9.30 am – 9.00 pm
It is not very often that you stumble upon an obscure Nasi Briyani stall in the CBD. With big Nasi Briyani household names such as Golden Nur Nasi Briyani in Golden Shoe Food Centre nearby and Sedaaap Nasi Briyani on the floor below, Thambi’s is a hidden gem that sits on the 2nd floor of Amoy Street Food Centre that is yet to be discovered.
Thambi’s rendition of Nasi Briyani is not only authentic but also healthier than most Nasi Briyanis. I was surprised by how un-guilty I felt after consuming the Nasi Briyani here.
The owner laughed at my puzzled reaction and told me that unlike the average Nasi Briyani, his rendition is cooked with peanut oil. So if you’re looking for a guilt-free Nasi Briyani, you know where to head to. If you’re looking for some Putu Mayam and Apam Balik to snack on, Thambi’s is where you should be headed to as well.
Thambi’s: 7 Maxwell Rd, 069111, Amoy Street Food Centre, #02-92 | Expected Damage: $5 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri, 6:45 am – 4:00 pm
3. IMAM Banana Leaf Restaurant
Situated right in front of Kallang MRT, IMAM Banana Leaf Restaurant is not only convenient but also opens 24/7! However, Nasi Briyani ($6.50) is only available from 11 am onwards and lasts until whenever someone buys the last plate of Nasi Briyani.
The mutton curry here is a personal favourite of mine because it reminds me of the the Mutton Briyani at my go-to Mamak store in Malaysia. Although they didn’t serve it with bone marrow, the mutton is very succulent. The rice is slightly dry but this is a quick fix with mutton gravy on the side.
4. Mami Midah Briyani
Another Nasi Briyani gem in the East, Mami Midah Briyani is one of the best Malay-influenced Nasi Briyanis ($5) in town. Doused in thicker-than-usual curry and served with acar acar, the briyani strikes an impressive balance between sweet, sour and spicy. The rice even emits a fragrant masala scent.
Located near the MRT, Mami Midah is also extremely accessible. Just note that they usually start serving around 10:30am and finish around 4:00pm. They regularly update their Facebook too so I strongly advise all adventurous Nasi Briyani hunters to check that out before heading there.
Mami Midah Briyani: Eunos Block 4A Opp Eunos MRT | Tel: 9177 7153 | Website | Opening Hours: Tues – Sun, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
5. Hanifa’s Briyani Specialist
Hanifa’s Fish Briyani is one of my favourite Nasi Briyanis ($5) to eat whenever I’m down to eat until I’m full to the brim. The rice is buttery and complements the dry texture of the fried mackerel slice perfectly. The fried mackerel may also seem hard to bite into but once you’re a bite in, you’ll find out how soft it is despite its tough exterior.
If you are up for another round of Nasi Briyani, Yakedar is also definitely worth a try and just a store or two to the right of Hanifa’s.
Hanifa’s Briyani Specialist: Tekka Centre, 665 Buffalo Road #01-256 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
6. Sakunthala’s Food Palace
Sakunthala Food Palace’s Nasi Briyani ($11) is one of a kind because the highlight of the meal is usually the meat that is served with it and for that reason, pick mutton. The mutton here is absolutely mouth-watering and kept warm by a blanket of aluminium foil on top. Served with the bone marrow, the mutton oozes calorie-worthy fatty juices despite not being covered in curry or gravy which is served on the side instead.
Unlike the above-mentioned Nasi Briyani places, you will also be glad to hear that Sakunthala Food Palace is air-conditioned and whips up some pretty good Mango Lassi! However, that does come with a higher price to pay. If you have even more room to splash that moola, try Aromas of India, which is located nearby, for an atas Nasi Briyani experience.
Sakunthala Food Palace: 66 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218570 | Website | Tel: 6293 6649 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 11:00 am – 10:30pm
7. Islamic Restaurant
Islamic Restaurant has also been serving up some pretty great Nasi Briyani since 1921. Its old charm is embodied in its rustic recipes. The fish briyani ($11) will blow your mind. I mean, it’s still around for a reason right?
Here, you can also dine comfortably in air-con. The chicken and mutton briyanis are also worth a try.
Islamic Restaurant: 745 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 198713 | Website | Tel: 6298 7563 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 10:00 am – 9:30 pm
8. The Banana Leaf Apolo
The Banana Leaf Apolo Nasi Briyani ($12) is a popular choice. The Nasi Briyani is fresh, moist and redolent. There is something about serving Nasi Briyani on a banana leaf that makes the experience all the more authentic too.
Crispy, airy and light, they also have the best papadums in town. The papadums make this Nasi Briyani stand out from other Nasi Briyanis, especially when dipped in mutton gravy. If you are in the vicinity, the famous Bismillah Briyani is also nearby (choices, choices, too many choices).
The Banana Leaf Apolo: 54 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218564 | Website | Tel: 6293 8682 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 10:30am – 10:30 pm
9. Allauddin’s Briyani
Switching gears back to Tekka Centre, if you’re looking for a briyani ($5) to eat for breakfast, Allauddin’s Briyani is your safest bet. Allauddin’s Briyani is always ready to serve breakfasts for champions. The portions are huge and the service is quick!
The highlight of the Nasi Briyani was definitely the rice. The high quality basmati rice with cashews drizzled in it will knock your socks off. The pickled cucumbers perfectly complemented the rice and mutton too, adding much-appreciated acidity.
Allauddin’s Briyani: Tekka Centre, 665 Buffalo Rd, 210665, #01-232 | Expected Damage: $5 | Tel: 6296 6786 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 9:00 am – 8:00 pm
10. Geylang Briyani Stall
Last but not least, a briyani list could never be complete without the Geylang Briyani Stall. Known for making its customers come back not once, or twice, but several times within a week, the Geylang Briyani Stall is a must-try. The owner is exceptionally fond of the art of making Nasi Briyanis. His passion clearly translates into his highly praised Briyani ($5).
The Geylang Briyani Stall‘s Nasi Briyani may look paler than your average Nasi Briyani but what it lacks in looks is certainly made up in taste. The rice is exceptionally pillow-like and the crunchy acar acar tickles your taste buds to a whole new level. The days when Fish Briyani is served are the best. The best times to go are after 11am and before 4pm.
Geylang Briyani Stall: Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre, 1 Geylang Serai, 402001, #02-146 | Tel: 9831-0574 | Opening Hours: Tues – Sun, 10am – 5pm
That rounds up my Nasi Briyani list. I hope y’all have a burp-worthy briyani experience, briyani enthusiasts, newbies and non-enthusiasts alike!
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