Briyani rice always fascinates me - whether it's in India or here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There's always something special about slow-cooking/steaming fragrant, scented basmati rice together with an array of spices and curried meats in a large, tightly-sealed metal pot for hours. When you know your briyani is ready, you break open the seal (usually made from a flour-and-water paste), pry open the lid, and release this tremendous aromatic cloud of sheer deliciousness that'll waft thru the kitchen and make anyone within sniffing distance salivate :-D
The best briyani I'd ever tasted was in Hyderabad, India. Here in Malaysia, the best briyanis were supposed to come from the southern state of Johore, bordering Singapore. There, you can find the "briyani gam" - "gam" is the Malay word for "gum" or "glue", and a reference to the thick, sticky dough made from flour and water, which woould be used to seal the lid of cooking pot containing the briyani, condiments & curried meats tightly shut, pressure-cooking the whole thing and allow the scent and flavors of the curried meats to infuse into the rice.
I'd not been to Johore's capital city (172 miles south of KL) to try the famous "briyani gam", and was pleasantly surprised when a KL colleague told me that there IS a branch of the "Restoran Briyani Gam Johor" right here in KL! Well, we drove 30 minutes to this restaurant in Kinrara, a new industrial park on the outskirts of KL.
The restaurant serves variations of the "briyani gam" - you can choose mutton khorma, beef khorma, chicken curry, fried spiced chicken, prawns or even curried venison "briyani gam". And these all come in plate lunch servings.
We chose 2 types: the beef khorma and the fried spiced chicken options. Both were really good!
Firstly, the rice - perfectly steamed, totally non-greasy, subtly fragrant with cardamom, cloves & cinnamon. The beef khorma was melt-in-the-mouth tender, and lightly spiced, with assertive hints of cumin and coriander. The fried, spiced chicken was marinated in fresh turmeric & salt before being deep-fried till crisp-skinned, but still retaining the moistness inside - it's served with a very spicy chilli paste.
Each lunch plate will also contain a sour-sweet, crisp cucumber-and-carrot pickle, a small bowl of watery yellow lentil curry (which I poured over my briyani rice in its entirety), and a crisp pappadum. The price for each plate lunch was very reasonable: RM11.90 (US$3.80) for the beef & chicken options. The most expensive item on the menu was the venison curry briyani at RM18.80 (US$6).
Restoran Beriyani Johor (Batu Pahat)
Puchong-Bandar Kinrara Branch
Corner of Jalan BK 5a/1& Jalan BK 5a/3
(Off Bukit Jalil Highway)
Bandar Kinrara 5