[Penang] Lunch at Dindigul Biriyani, Little India

Lunch at Michelin-selected ๐——๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ด๐˜‚๐—น ๐—•๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜†๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ถ on Penang Street today. The homegrown eatery fashioned itself after the legendary Tamil Nadu dining icon, Thalappakatti Biriyani from the town of Dindigul in India. Founded back in 1957 by Nagasamy Naidu, Thalappakatti Biriyani prided itself on its Tamilian biryani which was cooked using the short-grained ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ข ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข rice, spiced with ground onions, garlic, green chilis, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. ๐˜‰๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช rice, popular in other parts of India, especially the north, wonโ€™t be acceptable to its Tamil customers.

Over here in the heart of Penangโ€™s Little India, ๐——๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ด๐˜‚๐—น ๐—•๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐˜†๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ถ also opted for the ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ข ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข rice grains (also called ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฌ๐˜ฌ๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ถ), and replicated the same recipe to produce their ๐˜ฃ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜บ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ช offering.

We also ordered ๐™ข๐™ž๐™ก๐™–๐™œ๐™ช ๐™ฉ๐™๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ฃ๐™ž โ€“ a South Indian pepper soup which was the forerunner of the British ๐˜ฎ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ธ๐˜ฏ๐˜บ, having been adopted by the British Raj colonialists and brought back to England in the 19th-century.

For our main course, we ordered the ๐™‘๐™š๐™™๐™– ๐™†๐™ค๐™ฏ๐™๐™ž ๐˜ฝ๐™ž๐™ง๐™ฎ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™ž, a weekend special where the biryani is topped with a spicy, intensely-flavoured dry chicken curry. The ๐˜ฃ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜บ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ช was served with ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ช ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ถ (curd with chopped purple onions), ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜บ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฌ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ (vermicelli in sweet milk dessert) and ๐˜ฌ๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ (a tamarind-based broth accented with a spice blend of ground coriander seeds, fenugreek, and ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜ญ/yellow lentils).

The food was ultra-spicy here, and pretty much suited the palate of the local Penang-Tamil customers. It was very busy at lunch today on Saturday.

Dindigul Biriyani
43, Lebuh Penang (Penang Street), 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604-261 4532
Operating hours: 10.30am to 10pm daily


Is there meat/chicken in the biryani, or is the biryani here just a rice dish which is then topped with chicken?

In most of India biryani is a layered dish of rice and โ€œproteinโ€ and the two are cooked together, at least in the final stages. In New York we have the recently opened Singaporean food court, Urban Hawker, that has a biryani stand that also has rice topped with either lamb or chicken. It wasnโ€™t recognizably โ€œbiryaniโ€ to me, but I recognize that there might be different interpretations of the dish in different parts of India, and even more different interpretations in the diaspora.

Yes, the biryani is cooked with meats, which imparted the scent/flavours to the rice. There are two types here - the more popular chicken version:

And the mutton one: