8 Best Indian Restaurant Meals for Penang Holiday Makers
Follow Smart Dory’s quick guide to Penang’s Little India’s best Indian restaurant. Hunt down the best dishes and eat like a local. Top tips: Bring a huge appetite along.
South Indian cuisine is popular in Penang. This is not to be confused with the Nasi Kandar outlets which are predominantly run by Indian Muslims.
Indian Sweet Shops with platefuls of delectable sweets are delicious to a tee. The milk-based sweets and desserts are made with grains, dried fruits and buttermilk. The names roll off our tongues like velvety silk; Badam Ka Halwa, Besan Laddoo, Barfi, Coconut Khoya Peda and Mulpua. Of course, these are without a doubt, my favourites.
#1 Going for a Vegetarian Set Meal
Popular for its mouthwatering dishes, Madras New Woodlands is a vegetarian restaurant. This restaurant has both South and Northern dishes on the menu. A top childhood favourite is the Chana Bhatura. The puffed up Bhatura is complimented with a perfect serve of Masala Chana, spicy chickpeas. Add on a few dishes like Masala Bendi, Aloo Mutter and Dosa, you will have the perfect meal.
MADRAS NEW WOODLANDS | Indian Vegetarian Restaurant
60, Penang Street, Penang
Business Hours: 10.00am—10:00pm
#2 Our first Rava
I never forget my first Rava Dosa at Vello Villas. The Rava Dosa, a crispier version of the South Indian Dosa was unlike any other I’ve seen or had. It was deliciously fragrant with the smell of pure ghee. The edges are crisp and almost waffle-like. Its signature holes and blisters with its moist side showing a sprinkling of ginger and carrot bits. There is curry leaf, shave coconut, cashew nuts, crushed peppercorns and cumin seeds. Rava Dosa does not require overnight fermentation like regular Dosa. It’s made from semolina and chawal flour and buttermilk. Its great eaten on its own but drowning it in fish curry gravy works best for me.
VELOO VILAS RESTAURANT | Casual Indian Restaurant
22, Penang Street, Penang
Business Hours: 12pm – 9pm (close 4pm – 6pm)
#3 Penang’s Best Tandoori Chicken
There are a few restaurants selling this North Indian staple dish. Restoran Kapitan which popularizes the perfectly baked succulent Tandoori Chicken is packed every night. The red tender morsel, charred black on the edges is served atop warm naan. You can have a choice of garlic or cheese naan bread which cost a few dollars extra. There is a choice of two side mixed curries.
Seating is on the veranda off the street or air-conditioning. if you head upstairs.
KAPITAN RESTAURANT | Casual Indian Restaurant
93, Chulia Street, Penang
Open 24 hours
#4 Banana Leaf Rice
One of the top banana leaf rice restaurants was Susila’s in the early 1980s. When the restaurant closed; it moved to the current shop and was renamed Shusi Banana Leaf Restaurant. It has been renovated. Eating there is a trip down memory lane. I half expect to see Boss in his white shirt and short manning the shop. Back in the 80s, the price for a Chicken Set was RM3.20! The banana leaf rice has 3 different vegetarian appetizers, 2 pieces of Papadom and a mound of hot steaming white rice! Spice it up with your choice of curries, vegetarian dhal, fish, Chicken or mutton. Of course, breakfast was a great fluffy dosa with last night’s fish gravy and a cuppa for RM1.
SHUSI BANANA LEAF RESTAURANT | Banana Leaf Restaurant
71 Penang Street, Penang
Business Hours: 12.00noon – 4.00pm and 4.00pm – 9.00pm
#5 Lots of Meaty Mains
Tasty and affordable, Sri Ananda Bahwan is the popular choice for temple goers to stop by in Little India, Penang. The sizzle of Dosa cooking on the open grille and meat roasting with Kebabs, Tandoori and meaty curries is a draw for this Indian restaurant at the corner of Penang and China Street. There are equally as many vegetarian dishes, snacks and sweet but it’s the meaty North Indian menu that draws in the crowds daily.
The scent of Mutton or Chicken Korma, Tikka Masala, Kebabs and Tandoori barbecue meals waft through the air as you walk by. If you go a little further down the road you will see another Sri Ananda Bahwan (Pure Vegetarian) where the food is cooked without garlic or onions.
SRI ANANDA BAHWAN RESTAURANT | Vegetarian-Friendly Indian Restaurant
55, Penang Street, and 25, Penang Street, 10200 George Town, Penang
Business Hours: Daily 7AM–10:30PM
#6 Best Butter Chicken Dish
There are two dishes you must try at Karaikudi. Butter Chicken and Palak Paneer which is done perfectly. Well add Fish Tikka and you have my favourite dishes on the menu. The restaurant has various Naans, Pratha, Dosa and Bread or Briyani
Rice for your curries with a good selection of vegetarian meals. We normally start our meal with a refreshing Triveni Juice made with Mango, Pineapple and Ginger.
KARAIKUDI RESTAURANT | Indian Restaurant
20, Market Street, Penang
Business Hours: 11.00am—11:00pm
#7 Annalakshmi Temple of Fine Arts
The Temple of Fine Arts is devoted to the promotion of Indian fine arts. Besides music, dance and drama, the centre is well known for its culinary arts. Located on Babington Avenue the premise is in a quiet bungalow within a beautiful garden.
Annalakshmi, its vegetarian restaurant is under the cover of an airy porch at the back of the bungalow. It is staffed entirely by the TFA volunteers. There is a daily buffet of vegetarian Indian food, with coffee and tea. In the evening there is an à la carte menu for dinner.
There is no set price. Patrons are asked to pay what they like for what they have eaten. This is in line with their motto is:
“Eat to your heart’s content, pay what your heart feels“.
Annalakshmi Temple of Fine Arts | Place of worship
Address: 1, Lebuhraya Babington, 10450 Penang
Business Hours: Tuesday to Sunday Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm and Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.00pm
(Closed on Mondays)
#8 Crab Masala
Muthu’s is a truly hidden off the beaten track Indian Restaurant. Located on Acheen Street in the George Town Heritage Enclave, only the regulars know where to find it. This banana leaf restaurant has no signboard. So you need to be on the lookout for it. The best part about eating at Muthu Restaurant Chettinad Mess is to find out your tolerance for spices. Can you take the heat? If you’re game, dive in the MUST EAT dish of Crab Masala.
Muthu Restaurant Chettinad Mess (shop doesn’t have a signboard) I South Indian cuisine
143, Acheen Street, 11200, Georgetown, Penang
Business hours: Daily 9.00am—3:00pm