Image: Rojak Daily/Letchumy Tamboo
Do you happen to know any Malaysians who hate the Biryani dish, or better known as Nasi Biryani? We don’t either.
In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the popular dish is one of Malaysians’ favourite food and a crowd puller at functions like weddings and open houses.
Nasi Biryani is a South Asian mixed rice dish popular amongst the Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The dish is generally made with tonnes of spices, good quality basmati rice and various kinds of meat.
In Malaysia itself, the dish has been transformed to suit local taste buds, with different variations to it such as Nasi Briyani Gam, Nasi Briyani Kedah, Nasi Briyani Muar.
The most recent Biryani craze was the Bamboo Biryani, a type dish where fragrant biryani rice is cooked in bamboo tubes.
These sort of constant alterations to the traditional dish give it a unique twist to cater to food lovers and in a way, served as an inspiration for a young Malaysian couple to come up with their very own version of the Nasi Biryani: the Coconut Biryani
Yup, you heard us right.
Selvaraj Rajendhiran, 33, and Kalaichelvi Yahganaden, 28, managed to marry the distinctive flavour of coconuts to the rich taste of the Biryani, resulting in a truly unique dish.
recently caught up with the duo to find out about the idea behind the unique concept.
Briyani And Coconut?
The notion to start a food outlet was the brainchild of Kalaichelvi, a former physiotherapist. However, her husband Selvaraj is actually the person behind this unusual biryani.
From the tender age of 10, Selvaraj, who works as a subcontractor, learned to cook from his mother. According to Selvaraj, she used to run a small food stall business in an industrial area in Hulu Langat.
“I used to help her out in the stall by following the recipes that she taught me. Her signature dish was chicken sambal and people went crazy for the dish during those days.
“Being a kitchen helper, somehow instilled a love for cooking in me. Whenever I get some free time, I will be cooking up a storm in the kitchen, trying recipes after recipes and creating unique dishes,” he said sheepishly.
Kalaichelvi noticed the talent that her husband has and his labour of love when it comes to cooking.
“When I was pregnant, he lovingly cooked up dish after dish for me. He never complained about cooking because it is a passion for him,” she said.
After their first child was born, Kalaichelvi began seriously thinking about their finances.
“My husband’s income depends on the projects that he gets as a subcontractor. Sometimes, where there are no projects, there would be zero income.
“That was when we discussed about capitalising on his cooking talent and starting a food business as a side income,” she said.
Kalaichelvi said when it comes to venturing into a food business, they were pretty sure from the start that they wanted to sell Biryani Rice as the main item.
“However, we don’t want to be just another shop selling Nasi Biryani. We wanted to add a unique twist of our own to the dish.
“We have heard about the Bamboo Biryani where the rice is cooked inside bamboo shoots. We didn’t want something like that. We wanted to take it up a notch and infuse our food with a special ingredient. We picked coconut as out special ingredient as it is a universally-known fruit and also a local delight.
“That was how ‘My Coconuts Briyani & Dessert’ was born,” explained Kalaichelvi.
However, the duo didn’t jump into the business just like that.
“Cooking at home is so much different than cooking in a restaurant. When cooking at home, you can afford to make mistakes but when cooking in a restaurant, mistakes should not happen at any cost.
“So, before officially opening the restaurant, we developed recipes at home by cooking, adding, subtracting and experimenting.
“It took us about a year of testing and trying until we were fully satisfied with the taste of the dishes prepared, before introducing them in the restaurant,” he said.
My Coconuts Briyani & Dessert, Ampang, opened its doors in October this year, and it has been receiving rave reviews from its customers so far.
Chicken, Mutton And Prawn
The restaurant offers three types of Biryani Rice, namely Chicken Biryani, Mutton Biryani and Prawn Biryani.
People who visit the restaurant will be pleasantly surprised because their Briyani Rice orders are served piping hot - right inside a young coconut.
As they dig into the moist Biryani Rice topped with a hard-boiled egg, they will find succulent pieces of meat, cooked to perfection.
Selvaraj said customers enjoy the distinct flavours of the coconut in their Biryani Rice.
“We don’t use water to cook the Biryani rice. We use coconut water. We also add young coconut flesh, blended into a paste, to add depth to the dish,” he said.
Selvaraj also makes his own spice blends at the restaurant, which will go into the pot of Biryani while it cooks.
“Nine types of my hand-picked spices are grinded to make my very own spice blend. Apart from that, I also add in a special mixture of 10 types of spice powders, for an extra kick to the dish,” he said.
All the spices and powders are cooked with choices of meat or seafood, alongside the coconut water and coconut flesh paste.
“Once the cooking process is done, each portion of the Biryani Rice is scooped into pre-prepared young coconut shells, covered in foil, and steamed for two to three hours. Once customers make their orders, we add a hard-boiled egg on top of the coconut shell before serving them with papadams and a yogurt raita,” he said.
It's In The Way You Eat It
The father of two said the best part about their Biryani Rice is the way you eat it.
“Our Biryani Rice is so moist and rich that they don’t require any gravy or curry to go along with it. You can eat it as it is,” he said.
Also, Selvaraj told us that he gets his poultry, mutton and prawn from a local halal supplier.
“My cook is also Indonesian and 40 per cent of our customers are Muslims,” he said.
Although Biryani Rice remains as the main dish served in the restaurant, My Coconuts Briyani & Dessert also offers other dishes like Roti Bakar and Kluang coffee.
They also offer desserts.
“Our signature dessert is our coconut ice cream, 100 per cent homemade with young coconut flesh,” he said.
The coconut ice cream is served in a - you guessed it! - young coconut bowl and topped with coconut biscuit, roasted coconut flakes, salted mini pretzels and drizzled with chocolate sauce.
It's the perfect way to end your Biryani meal, if you ask us.
The Chicken Briyani is priced at RM14.90
, the Prawn Briyani for RM18.90
and the Mutton Briyani for RM21.90
My Coconuts Briyani & Dessert
No 9-G Wawasan Ampang 2/2 Bandar Baru Ampang,
Bandar Baru Ampang,
68000 Ampang, Selangor