It took almost 10 years for Senivasagam Manikam aka Seni to finalise the base recipe and the method used for his claypot rice. While he was working with the Japanese, one asked him what sort of food do Malaysian Indian hawkers do à la minute? Instead of listing down dishes that Indians do prepare on the spot, the question sparked an idea in Seni’s head. He tried cooking all sorts of dishes and found them to be unsatisfying, nothing feasible for a business. “I tried and gave up multiple times before getting positive feedback for this particular style of food cooked in a claypot,” he shares.
Now if you think you’re going to get charred bits of rice stuck to the claypot like you’d be accustomed to with Chinese versions, you might be disappointed. In Chinese versions, the rice is usually cooked in the claypot with the other ingredients. For Seni’s version, the onions, tomatoes, curry leaves and masala are sautéed first. Then the choice of protein is added and thoroughly cooked before cooked rice is stirred in. The mixture is left in the claypot for a few more minutes and then served immediately. The result is a dish where ideally every rice grain is coated well and retains its heat as you keep eating.
It’s not at all watery like when you’d have curries with white rice and if you’d like your dish to be different from the standard masala, you could tell them you’d like something else. They’ll be able to tell you what other types they can make for you on the day itself. They are able to do claypot varuvals, paratels and other types of South Indian styles. Curious about the types of proteins they have? Well, the usual suspects like chicken (RM11), mutton (RM14), prawns (RM17), squids (RM14), fish (RM17) are there. There are two sizes; the smaller gets you one drink and the bigger, two drinks. You could also ask if they have duck or turkey or crabs and check the price with them as it is subject to change. If you’re dining with someone and don’t mind sharing, a banana leaf ‘set’ is an option at RM29. This consists of rice, a choice of protein (kampung chicken or mutton) and a vegetable.
Seni SattiSorru has been in Brickfields for three years and the crowds are inevitable during lunch hours as well as the weekends. In fact, the demand is so high, Seni has opened his second outlet in Klang, third in Malacca, fourth in Johor Bahru and said he is scheduled to open in places like Penang and even Singapore. To circumvent any inconsistencies in those franchises, Seni says, “The masalas and spices will all be done in a central location and delivered to them.”