Beyond mounds of pillowy basmati rice and tender meats, the biryani is a dish that’s as rich in ethnographic history as it is in flavour.

The Muslim-Indian delicacy sees many variations between Indian states and thousands more across South Asia. And fortunately for diners, Singapore is in no short supply for some of the best biryani.

For the uninitiated, the method of cooking largely remains the same: long-grain rice, tons of spices and meat are cooked in pressure cookers to retain as much flavour as possible. Small changes, such as when meat should be cooked together with rice or how it’s served, makes all the difference. 

In Singapore, there are local takes of the dish such as nasi biryani which is served with curry. If you go exploring around, you might just find a taste of all these different styles — from traditional South Asian ones to modern creations. Here’s a head start to your biryani discovery.

The best biryani in Singapore, from traditional to modern creations

(Hero and featured image credit: Bismillah Biryani)

This story was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore

Allauddin’s Briyani
Allauddin’s Briyani
#01-232, 665 Buffalo Road, Tekka Market, 210665

Tekka Centre has long been a popular spot for Indian food, and there are many hawker stalls around the place claiming to have the best nasi biryani in town. But, you can surely be guaranteed of a good version at Allauddin’s Briyani. This stall has been around for more than 40 years, cooking the same dish and offering but a few variations: chicken, fish or mutton biryani. Allauddin’s Briyani rice is famed — the basmati is cooked in a large pot with cardamoms, cloves, anise, and other spices. There are times when the rice may be served a tad mushy. Still, you’ll find the tender meats — served in a spicy gravy — and pickled vegetables on the side a sufficient saving grace.

(Image credit: @george.kooi via Instagram)

Anglo Indian Cafe & Bar
Anglo Indian Cafe & Bar
1 Shenton Way, #01-08, Singapore 068803

The Anglo Indian cafe is better known for its butter chicken and tikka masala, though some attention should be given to its biryani offerings. Here, biryani is first prepared in small clay pots, sealed in naan dough and tandoori baked. The result is a piping hot dish with billowing wafts of fragrant spices. Besides chicken and mutton, the cafe also offers a mixed-seafood and vegetarian biryani. There are three outlets around the CBD, but its Shenton Way cafe is deemed to have the best biryani.

Bismillah Biryani
Bismillah Biryani
50 Dunlop St, Singapore 209379

Disappointed by the biryani options in Singapore, former businessman and journalist Arif Salahuddin was determined to introduce an authentic version of the dish to the local market. 16 years later, Bismillah Biryani has evolved from a humble hawker store into a small franchise with a flagship restaurant that’s continuously featured on the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list of affordable, good eats. The Pakistani-style of biryani is a drier version, mixed together with small amounts of saffron and chopped cashew nuts. Marinated meat, be it chicken or mutton, is cooked together with the rice and makes for intense flavours. If you’re feeling indulgent, go for the lamb shank biryani. Read our review here.

Mr Biryani
Mr Biryani
32 Norris Rd, Singapore 208274

Mr Biryani offers Hyderabad-style dhum biryani which involves marinating meat in yoghurt and spices overnight, then cooking it together with rice over slow fire. Chef Govinda Rajan imports spices and chillis from India to ensure that his biryani is as authentic as possible. The biryani here is served in large portions, meant for sharing between a group of five people. There’s also a generous sprinkle of fried shallots and cashew nuts over the dish for crunch.

(Image credit: @pengloh)

Tiffin Room
Tiffin Room
1 Beach Rd, Raffles Hotel Singapore, Singapore 189673

Tiffin Room is a familiar name for many, famed for their delectable North Indian cuisine and specialties served in tiffin boxes. For biryani, Chef Kuldeep Negi, serves two different kinds on the menu: a vegetarian biryani (Zarda Subz Biryani) that’s served with aromatic basmati rice, a whole medley of vegetables, Makhana Salan gravy and raita; as well as a the Lucknowi Murgh Biryani, complete with basmati rice with whole spices, chicken, Makhana Salan gravy and raita.

Meatsmith Little India
Meatsmith Little India
21 Campbell Ln, Singapore 209894

For a truly indulgent biryani, try out Meatsmith Little India’s take with a suckling pig. Instead of cooking it traditionally in a large pot, the Indian-centric barbecue restaurant stuffs cooked basmati rice and spices (showered with orange blossom water and rose water for good measure) inside a suckling pig. The stuffed pig is then roasted for two hours till golden brown. Slabs of crispy pork crackling and biryani are served together with lemon and raita. The crab biryani with tobiko, served in a smaller portion as a snack, is also a must-try.

7500E Beach Rd, #01-201 Diners Building, Singapore 199595

Formerly from Michelin-starred Song of India, chef Manjunath Mural opened Indian restaurant, Adda, back in 2020. The restaurant focuses on crafting a medley of Neo-Indian cuisine, with dishes like butter chicken served in a pot pie. Of course, the chef’s famous biryani will be on the menu too. Choose between the chicken biryani, mutton biryani or the vegetable biryani, served with a bed of aromatic basmati rice. All the biryani is cooked dum style here.

(Image credit: @j_life521 via Instagram)

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