M offered to take me to Tekka market for some good nasi briyani. Briyani is a mixed rice dish with origins from India. It is usually cooked with spices, rice, meat and vegetables.
A few words on Tekka market. Growing up, I used to follow M here for her weekend wet marketing. And by wet market, it was the true, traditional, stinky, dirty kind. I remember hating walking with her past the vegetable (dry) section because it meant stepping into wet corridors, horrid smells of fresh meat/fish. However, this was also the area where I used to watch the fishmongers scale big fishes right in front of me and scrape fish meat to be rolled up into fishballs later.
I accompanied M because if I hung around the entire marketing trip, it meant that we could go for breakfast later at the food stalls and it meant eating some of my favourite local bites – chwee kueh in particular. The stalls would make chwee kueh fresh right in front of you and it was truly a treat after a round of marketing. Unfortunately, the two stalls that used to be there have disappeared and I truly lament the loss of those stalls.
Nevertheless, some good food stalls still remain at Tekka market and the place has undergone a renovation of sorts. The market is noticeably cleaner now but the local atmosphere still remains.
I like to joke that the market is one of the traditional examples of racial segregation. Majority of the Indian/Muslim stalls are located on side of the market, and the Chinese stalls are located on the other side. You will see some odd stalls sticking out, but you get the gist.
We arrived at the market at around 11.30 and already there was a pretty huge lunch crowd milling around the stalls. There isn’t just one famous briyani stall. There are quite a few and the stalls are not afraid to flaunt their fame. Many stalls which have won awards have gleefully posted this on their signboards and it is really up to the discerning customer to pick which briyani stall stirs their interest. After walking around for a bit, we decided to try Allauddin’s Briyani. They not only proudly displayed their numerous accolades, there was also a second stall opened just opposite selling prata and other things.
“Hmmm…. makansutra award is from 2008… that’s a long time ago…”
“Ok lah, this stall also have business time award. Should be good.”
We each had the chicken briyani though the stall also offers fish and mutton briyani at the same price of $5. Pappadom is an additional 50 cents.
I suspect the briyani is prepared somewhere else (could be wrong). All we saw was a tub of rice and a chicken curry pot. The man would scoop some rice onto a plate, followed by the chicken curry and then with another topping of rice. Pickled cucumbers and a bowl of dhalchat is given together with the briyani.
It’s quite a test when you give patrons plastic forks and spoons to eat a chicken drumstick with. Too tough and we’ll have a tough time tearing the meat away from the bone. In this case, the chicken was really tender and the meat just fell off the bone. The rice and the dhalchat was really tasty as well. M noted that the rice was not as colourful or ‘orangy’ as the other stalls that we walked past. However, we didn’t think that it affected the flavour of the rice.
Have yet to try the other stalls of briyani fame at Tekka market, but it’s good to know that at least I know one of them now and they’re pretty good.
Add: 665 Buffalo Road #01-297 Tekka Market Centre