By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
Kolkata-born Chef Gaggan whose eponymous restaurant in Bangkok has won the top spot in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for three consecutive years since 2015, says that there is no such thing as a curry in India. And I concur.
A curry is a word to describe the sauce of a dish in India, usually an amalgamation of various spices with some liquid added. These mixtures of spices are called Masalas and the better Indian restaurants always grind and prepare their own. Curry powder is a western invention and it doesn’t exist in India. Recipe-specific spice mixes are more common.
The newly-opened Biryani King next to the Yik Foong building, opposite UTC, has a chef hailing from Hyderabad who grinds and makes his masalas fresh with spices imported from there. There is such a difference in taste when fresh roasted and fresh ground masalas are used in Indian cuisine and at Briyani King, that difference is palpable.
Their Chicken Claypot Biryani, with fluffy long-grain Basmati rice fragranced with a masala exuding a heady mix of spices, too many to list, is cooked over charcoal and served in the claypot in which it was cooked. One order is enough for 2-3 people, RM28.
They have a choice of chicken, mutton, beef, seafood and vegetarian biryani as well as a Dhum Biryani (RM13.90) which is cooked in a sealed pot for an even richer taste.
Kali Merch Mutton, a speciality from Hyderabad, has been marinated for two days and looks innocently mild and pale on the plate but it can sure pack a punch on the palate. The mutton is melt-in-the-mouth tender and the sauce peppery rather than chilli hot, RM16.
The Tandoori selection is wide, all cooked in their clay tandoor oven. Recommended is their Prawn Tikka which came on the shell and was very well marinated and spicy RM18; Chicken which can be ordered in parts or whole RM10.50 quarter, half RM21, whole RM42; and the really divine dish is their Veg Hara Bhara Kebab, a vegetarian kebab topped with cashews RM13.
The Masala paste for their Crab Curry is second to none, thick, creamy and chock full of ginger, RM24, and do experience their Squid Masala, medium sized squid, very fresh, cut in chunks and cooked with a special masala mix, RM19.
And then to the Curry Fish Head, a dish that is getting harder to find these days, at least the ones with the right kind of fish. This the Garupa head, and not the other varieties more commonly available and not as tasty. Here the fish head comes in various sizes ranging in price from RM68-RM98. We had the small one which was adequate for our group of 4. The sauce was tangy without being overly spiced and had the usual garnishing of ladies fingers and brinjal.
We ate all of the above with their Rumala Roti (paper thin whole wheat flatbread) or their most unusual Mozzarella Cheese Naan, almost like a pizza and oozing with cheese (see pic). Be careful with the last item as it can be very filling. I had one slice and had to stop mid way to make room for other goodies.
They have a promotion where you get one Mozzarella Cheese Naan with one piece of Tandoori chicken accompanied by iced lemon tea. All for RM16.90 which is a bargain. Also their Biryani promotions are very good value, starting at RM28 for 2 pax and you even get to take the Claypot home with you!
All in all, Biryani King, the ‘new kid on the block’ has a very extensive menu and their opening till 10.30pm means one can go for a leisurely dinner and the added attraction is their space occupying two shop lots with one side air conditioned.Biryani King#57-59 Jalan Laxamana, 30300 Ipoh, (opposite UTC building)Tel: 05 246 0525WhatsApp and Hotline: 6011 3330 1008; Ask for Operations Supervisor MalikBusiness hours: Monday-Sunday 10.30am-10.30pmFridays: Closed for prayers between 1pm-2pmPork Free (Halal certification in process)