Ex-Convict’s $2 Chicken Biryani Home Biz Sales So “Crazy”, Moving To Central Kitchen After 3 Weeks - 8days Skip to main content



Ex-Convict’s $2 Chicken Biryani Home Biz Sales So “Crazy”, Moving To Central Kitchen After 3 Weeks

What started out as a pastime for Tiktoker Popo and his “ghost chef” pal has turned into a full-time job after their Muslim-friendly butter chicken biryani went viral. They’re now moving their operations to a bigger space to ramp up production.
Ex-Convict’s $2 Chicken Biryani Home Biz Sales So “Crazy”, Moving To Central Kitchen After 3 Weeks

Former convict Popo is on a mission to help those in need. Earlier this month, the 27-year-old, a recovering drug addict, started a home-based business with a “ghost chef” buddy selling $2 “butter chicken biryani”. Aptly called twodollarbiryani, their aim is to not only “give everyone the opportunity to have good food at a good price”, but also to give back to society. For every 10 packets of biryani sold, they will donate one pack to the less fortunate. Their biz — as well as their cause — have gone viral.

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Helping others kept them sober

The idea was first mooted by Popo’s partner, a trained chef, who only wants to be known as A, three weeks ago. He takes care of the cooking, while Popo is in charge of social media and outreach.

“It was a lightbulb idea,” A tells 8days.sg. “I’m a recovering alcoholic and over the years, the thing that helped me stay sober was to help people. I recently quit my full-time job [as a restaurant manager] to take a break and had this opportunity to start this business.”

He decided to approach Popo, who is “kind of like an influencer” and currently focusing on his sobriety. Popo spent 15 months in prison between 2019 and 2021 for various offenses including drug abuse and assault. After he was released in February last year, he worked as a cleaner and operations executive at a gym. Even though he was clean, he had developed a drinking problem, so he quit his job to seek help.

“My life was going downhill, so I got myself admitted to NAMS (National Addictions Management Service) and that’s when my recovery journey started,” shares Popo.

“I met [A] at a recovery group. He knows that I make videos on social media and when he proposed this idea, I was immediately on board. Ten days later I posted a video about our biryani business on Tiktok, the video blew up.”

So why biryani? 

“We both love to eat it. And for me, the one from 7-Eleven was a hangover food,” says A.

“Two years ago, I wanted to start a home-based business selling $1 nasi lemak but my family said I was crazy. I put the idea on the backburner, but it was always lingering in my mind. Since there’s now a [viral home-based business] selling $1 nasi lemak, I had to come up with something else, so I thought of $2 biryani — it’s something that I like to eat and can cook well.”

Customers can place pre-orders for their Muslim-friendly biryani via Whatsapp during the week and the meals are delivered on Sunday. 

The $2 bento comes with basmati rice and a side of butter chicken cooked with yogurt, cream and butter. It’s not traditional Indian dum biryani per se, but more like a mild creamy curry of sorts (in this case, butter chicken) served with spiced turmeric rice.

“It’s better than the one from 7-Eleven, which is the same portion size but costs $4,” says A. 

While 8days.sg didn’t have a chance to try the dish yet, customers have been raving online about the “aromatic”, “flavourful” rice and the chicken “cooked to tender perfection”.  
7-Eleven vs twodollarbiryani's butter chicken biryani (Photo: Instagram/@tastewithjias)

Overwhelming response and support, worked 32 hours nonstop

Response for the biryani has been so “crazy” that they had to stop taking orders at one point.

A, who churns out the biryani from the kitchen of his family’s five-room HDB flat, worked for 32 hours straight to fulfill orders in the first week: “It was no joke. I woke up at 8am on Saturday and only finished cooking at 8pm on Sunday. As I don’t have space to store the chicken, I used frozen meat. I have to defrost, portion, cut, marinate, then cook it. It’s a very long process.”

“Though I have eight rice cookers at home, of which two are industrial ones, I cannot use both at the same time ’cos HDB only allows a maximum of 20 amps power. My house power-tripped five times in one night,” he laughs.

While they declined to reveal how many orders they have received, they say they’ve donated around 1,200 meals within two weeks. This includes pledges by customers, which make up 50 percent of the total meals prepared each week.

“We are not trying to be a charity organisation and ask for donations. But if people want to pledge meals for the less fortunate, we will fulfill the orders for them. There was an anonymous customer who donated 1,000 packets of biryani,” shares Popo.

The lads have signed up with York Hill resident volunteers to distribute the meals to lower-income neighbourhoods and also deliver meals to foreign workers’ dorms.

Opening a central kitchen to ramp up production

What was supposed to be a pastime for the duo has turned into a full-time job. They have “reached full capacity for a home-based business” and are moving into a central kitchen so they can cater to more people. Having a professional licensed kitchen also means they can hire extra help to step up production and apply for halal certification for their business.

“We cannot reveal any details but are close to signing a lease. We hope to move into the kitchen in about three weeks,” shares A.

“It’d be great if people can share good deals for renovation and equipment. I am not looking for sponsors, I am funding this whole expansion myself,” he adds. 

So far, A has invested around $5,000 in the biz, which he says is “sustainable”. “We are losing around $1,000 a week, but that’s because we keep buying new equipment to improve production. If sales double, we will break even in no time,” he reasons. “This is why we need community support. In future, I hope we can partner with small businesses by offering their products and this will help grow their businesses too.”

Place orders at twodollarbiryani via WhatsApp at 84398926. Additional $10 for delivery island-wide. More info on Tiktok and Instagram.

Photos: twodollarbiryani



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