What makes a place attractive for a traveller like me could be the history, the architecture, the natural beauty of the place or the culture.
Food reveals the soul and history of nation and Malaysia’s rich history leaves an indelible mark on Malaysian cuisine. It was the center of the spice trade and the amalgamation of the trader’s influence into local cuisine is felt up to today.
The myriad of different ethnic groups that make up the population of Malaysia and our colonial past make Malaysia’s cuisine unique, with a kaleidoscopic interpretation of common dishes in different geographical locales in the country.
Here, we list the 5 must-try Indian & Pakistani food in Kuala Lumpur.
1. South Indian – Banana Leaf Rice / Thosai
Traditionally banana leaf meals are consumed using hands which really is half the fun of eating banana leaf rice.
The white rice is served on a banana leaf with an assortment of vegetables, sometimes meat and condiments such as pickles and papadam (a deep fried lentil cracker). The banana leaf acts as a disposable plate and is not consumed.
Depending on the outlet, a staff will either pop by your table with a tray of goodies once you’ve got your basic banana leaf set served, or you would have to walk over to the main food counter and order your add-ons.
For outlets who offer table-side service, a tray loaded with individual servings of Indian favourites such as varuval chicken, mutton, bean curd, egg, fish curry and more will be bought table to table by the staff.
Take your pick and whichever dish you chose will be added to your bill.
2. North Indian / Pakistan – Chappati, Naan, Tandoori, Palak Paneer, Nihari, Haleem, etc
The North Indian states includes Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
North Indian curries usually have thick, moderately spicy and creamy gravies and for carbohydrates Indian breads are preferred over rice.
This region is also home to the tandoori chicken and naans (chicken and bread cooked in a clay tandoor oven).
Platter of mixed seafood, kebabs, meat from the tandoor oven:
Palak Paneer (cottage cheese and spinach):
Butter Chicken – a must order in any North Indian restaurant:
Dessert: Ras means ‘juice’ and malai means ‘cream’. Rasmalai is actually rasgulla soaked in rich saffron flavored creamy milk (refer picture below).
Another popular dessert is the “Indian ice cream” – Kulfi, made with thick, sweetened milk, and thus is generally thicker and richer than Western ice cream.
3. Indian Snacks
Among the most popular snacks are savory fried treats called chaats (chahts) and deliciously spiced tea.
The most common variety are samosas, panipuris, pakoras, idli, apom and pav bhaji.
4. Desserts: Indian sweets are known for their colour, spice and more often than not, sumptuous (read cloying) sweetness!
These sweets and pastries are rich with milk, ghee, besan and sugar and the many varieties are permutations of these 3 basic ingredients.
In KL, Brickfields, also known as the Little India of the city offers everything related to the Indian culture; be it culinary, lifestyle or religious items.
In South India, keseri, alwa, Mysore pak and jaangiri are some of the famous sweets sold there. As for North India, you have sweets like gulab jamun, laddu, barfi and kulfi, ras malai, rasgollas (which are not as sweet but still as amazing nonetheless).
The sweets are normally displayed in glass display counter at the front of the shop.
Go ahead, indulge your sweet tooth!
5. Briyani – The correct way of spelling Biryani is Biryani. So don’t get confused!
Biryani is a one-dish meal which consists of layered cooked rice and meat in an earthen pot before baking it in the oven. Popular in India and the Middle East, versions of biryani includes chicken, seafood or meat, and even vegetarian.
The Malaysian style of Briyani (notice the spelling) is very much like a South Indian or Madrasi Biryani or a Pulau where the rice and meat is cooked separately before both are combined in the final step.
This version is served with a salad and some curry of your choice rather than Cilantro and Mint Raita and Mirchi Ka Salan (curried chili peppers – this is a popular chili and peanut curry of Hyderabad and served with Hyderabadi biryani).