In the Spirit of Diwali…

In the spirit of the upcoming Deepavali or Diwali, whichever way you want to call it, I am doing a food post. Yes, after a long time of serious posts, why not something more in the spirit of feasting?
Knowing me, I would have a number of these foodie posts on my blog. It’s just plain old laziness which prevents me from showing them all to you.
But today, today is different. Today I just want to steer away from those serious topics and be crazy over food.
If you know me or read my blog often, Sri Ananda Bhawan of Little India, Penang, is a favourite hangout for me and my pals. We go there for lunch, dinner and most of the time, supper (although the place closes at 11pm). A trip to Ananda Bhawan is never expensive – they are one of the most reasonable banana leaf restaurants around. My favourite orders are the thosai, the banana leaf rice set (of course!) and the curries (the chicken and mutton varuval are a must-try. Forget the fish curry. Not spectacular at all). The Punjab Chicken is fiery on the tongue but worth all the water you gulp. Nic’s favourite way to end his meal there is to sip a glass of rasam. It’s something like wasabi – one sip of the rasam and your sinuses clear immediately!
About two doors away from the corner Sri Ananda Bhawan is Kaliamman’s. It’s in a class of its own because it offers similar items like its competitor but with higher prices. It’s quieter than Bhawan’s (which can be quite noisy at lunch and dinner). Good if you want to entertain clients and want some form of peace and quiet. They serve Western dishes too if you’re not into the Indian food mood. Try their kulfi and gulab jamun if you like very sweet desserts. Otherwise, stay with the curries. I recommend the palak paneer which is lovely and creamy and very much comfort food!
Innira’s in Brown Garden, Gelugur, is an institution with USM students. Parking is hell in that area but somehow people manage to squeeze their vehicles on some part of the road, leave them there and go to Innira’s. Innira’s serves banana leaf rice and the food’s a bit on the salty side. Lunch and dinner times are usually crowded so go early. You may be put off by some wait staff there (don’t let that spoil your mood for food). Sometimes their business is so good that you can be kept waiting. Try their crispy fried fish or the curry chicken.
If you have issues with coming all the way to Gelugur for banana leaf rice, you can try their outlet in town called Passions of Kerala, located at Jalan Chow Thye, off Macalister Road. Same family running the outlet. Lots of Caucasians frequent that place but the curries are still good and spicy! (Recommended dish – fried sliced bittergourd)
Jaya Restaurant (one along the main road on Gelugur and the other fronting Penang Road, opposite Cititel) is one place which I recently got to know. Anne had told me some horror tales about cockroaches but I’m not afraid of these bugs if I can tahan the rats as large as cats which I have seen at some nasi kandar places in Penang. The Jaya Restaurant on Penang Road serves up a mean tandoori chicken – piping hot, tender, juicy and spicy. I’ve never been a fan of tandoori chicken because at most places the chicken is tough. Jaya’s chapatis are wonderful too for supper. And their dhal curry is superb with chapatis.
One more place before I end. Spice and Rice at Green Hall, near The Actors Studio, is one classy place to go for Indian food. Of course, classy means the regular dishes cost more than usual (a friend sniffs that Spice and Rice charged her for sambar which is atrocious – how can sambar or dhall curry be chargeable, she asks). I had tea there once but I have heard from other friends that it is a lovely place to dine at night. They even have jazz music live or was it piano music? Whatever it is, this is one place you’d never be embarrassed to be seen at. Classy and elegant. The lawyers who own the restaurant have done up the old building just right.
Now that I’ve got your tums growling madly, pray… have you any good Indian eateries to share? Tell me, please do!
* I just realised I forgot to mention Annalakshmi at the Temple of Fine Arts (TFA), Jalan Babington. Annalakshmi serves vegetarian food for both lunch and dinner and yes, the food is scrumptious! Cooked and served by TFA volunteers. Located in a quiet neighbourhood, Annalakshmi is popular with both lunch and dinner crowds. I feel lunch is a better time to go as it is buffet style and you pay what you think your lunch is worth, donation-style. Dinner is ala-carte and you order from a menu but I have had a bad experience going there once for dinner. However, that said, I would still encourage you to try out its lunch buffet.

7 thoughts on “In the Spirit of Diwali…”

  1. Wah… *wipes dripping saliva from mouth* Have to go and visit these places sometimes.
    Oh, and is Palace of India at Tanjung Tokong (near Island Plaza there) considered and Indian restaurant? I’ve never been there before though.

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  2. Spice and Rice and soooo expensive… and in small portions some more! The food is not bad, but still…burns a hole in the pocket! Once in awhile okay la…

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  3. You’ve snagged the only Indian places I go to (Passions of Kerela in town and Brown Garden) but one of the other Indian women in our office (not J) loves Woodlands in Little India. She says it’s the most authentic South Indian food there is in Penang although if you are local and like the local spicy flavour, it probably won’t be up your street.
    Anyway we should take J out to her fav Indian place for lunch before she leaves Penang! What say you?

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  4. Hi Matrianklw: Ha, that was my intention. Now go and get some curries! Heat up that tummy too.
    Hi Vern: Yep, Spice is kinda pricey but hey, I guess they factor in ambience and all those classy stuff. Not good if you want to go all out for a true Indian meal (like my friend says, what? they charge for sambar too??).
    Hi D: Yes, another friend tells me Achi which is same row with Ananda Bhawans a good place for South Indian food. Never been tempted to go into Achi because it’s not bustling with people. Woodlands? That sweetmeat place? Must go there but the pull from Bhawans is too strong. I guess they also put something in their curries huh?Yes, we must bring J for some chow before she leaves Penang.

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  5. What about the best South Indian restaurant in the Island?
    Have you been to Woodlands (Lebuh Penang)? I would like to hear your comments about it…
    Innira´s is too expensive for the concept they offer and Jaya Gelugor the best in the south of the island.

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