Sep 252012
 
Sep 162012
 

I still recall my first working day in Singapore last year. A colleague asked me if I wanted to join him for lunch – I accepted, and asked that we go somewhere local. He asked me if I was OK with plastic tables and chairs – I said that this was my preference.

He took me to the Al Zouq Food Centre (3 Shenton Way) for Dum Biryani – as promised, a place where the locals eat.

Dum Biryani/Briyani as presented in most places here consists of a protein (chicken or mutton mostly), some rich pilau/biryani rice, some salad, and some curry sauce.

Dum Biryani at Al Zouq Food Centre, Shenton Way, Singapore

I’ve had it in a number of places but none have impressed me more than Al Zouq. It remains a favourite whenever life takes me to the financial district.

There are many ways of eating biryani – my favourite is to shred the meat off the chicken and mix it into the rice before pouring the curry gravy over the top:

Dum Biryani at Al Zouq Food Centre, Shenton Way, Singapore

The observant will note that I’ve added a piece of curry-fried fish to the meal above for flavour :)

What makes the Al Zouq biryani stand out from the competition? For me, a key component is the flavour in the rice. The standard Dum Biryani comes with steamed chicken as the protein, and it is pretty hard to mess that up (some places do manage this though) :) A good rice, good chicken, well flavoured curry gravy, fresh salad, it all combines together so nicely. Spicy, but more flavour than chili heat.

I have to add some praise here for the masala chai.

Masala Chai, Al Zouq Food Centre, Shenton Way, Singapore

The chai is well flavoured – it stands out because it is not overly sweet, too thin, or under flavoured – I would not say it was the best anywhere but it is certainly matches my ideal.

This is the day to day biryani menu at Al Zouq:

Biryani menu, Al Zouq Food Centre, Shenton Way, Singapore
I’ve tried the mutton biryani more than once, and the butter chicken biryani is certainly worth trying again. The black pepper chicken is interesting – chicken done in a Chinese/Malay style black pepper sauce. If you do go for the fish, please note that you must be careful with the bones (I find it worth the effort of taking extra care, it is very tasty).

There is other food at Al Zouq – the vegetarian thali is one of the best value meals I’ve seen here for the size and quality of the meal – but for me it is the biryani that keeps bringing me back.

Do you know of a spectacular biryani place in Singapore? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Sep 132012
 

I have had the privilege to work with several Indian colleagues here in Singapore who were happy to show me their favourite food destinations. There are several quite distinct Indian cuisines here – one of the most abundant is Southern/Tamil – and I took great delight in learning more about it.

There are a number of franchise chains serving good fast Southern Indian food here at very reasonable prices. One such chain, and my favourite, is Saravanaa Bhavan. I was fortunate to have an outlet near the office for lunch and within 15 minutes walk of where I lived for close to a year – the photos that follow reflect my favourites from these two outlets. According to Hungry Ang Mo there are two other outlets – from memory I have eaten at one of them but mainly at the Syed Alwi Rd (Little India near Mustafas) and Robinson Rd (financial district) sites.

I have to admit to being a fan of the Saravanaa Bhavan dosa range – the menu explains it better than I could:

My all time favourite is the Paper Roast Masala Dosa – a large, crispy, paper thin dosa served with a mild flavoursome potato masala curry inside, three different chatnis and a curry sauce:

Second favourite – the very similar Masala Dosa – the dosa is moister, not as thin and crispy – note the same chatnis and curry sauce – a bargain at SGD3.50:

And every so often, for something different, the Onion Rava Masala Dosa – same potato masala, but the dosa texture more brittle and tasty with the onion added:

I’d heartily recommend a trip to a Saravanaa Bhavan outlet even if you are not a vegetarian (I am not) – the food is good, fast, and cheap. It is one easy way to experience something out of the ordinary (an everyday occurrence for the adventurous here) :)