A GOOD Indian mixed rice meal is the best thing to have when you are feeling a little down.
Everyone has their own pick-me-up meal but I like a combination of food that tastes like home cooking with a good variety of vegetables.
Here are five restaurants that my friends and I patronise often.
1. CHETTYNAD RESTAURANT
Phileo Damansara 2, Block A, Jalan 16/11, Pusat Perdagangan Phileo Damansara, Petaling Jaya.
Opens daily, except last Sunday of the month. Lunch spread is served from 11am to 3pm on weekdays.
I will be lying to myself if I leave this eatery out of my top picks as my workplace, Menara Star, is located in the vicinity.
My colleagues and I often find ourselves enjoying lunch or teatime snacks at Chettynad.
The best thing about this place is the Indian mixed rice spread. The restaurant serves a wide variety of dishes that are an eclectic mix of Malaysian flavours.
From your typical Chettinad chicken varuval to your steamed tofu with soy sauce or stir-fried kailan with peanuts. You can eat here everyday and still find different options to choose from each time.
My favourite is definitely the thanni sar and rasam paired with the chicken varuval and vegetable options like the fried bittergourd or mixed vegetables. Once in awhile, I hanker for fried egg and fish curry.
I like the rasam because unlike most places, the spicy Indian soup here has a kick and is flavourful.
Most restaurants serve a watery version of this remedial concoction which is a total turnoff for me.
Chettynad serves lunch from as early as 10.45am and the food runs out fairly quickly so it is best to head over early to avoid disappointments.
2. SS SPICY FOOD (Bawah Pokok Kampung Attap)
No 7 & 8, Jalan Akar Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur. Opens daily. Lunch is served from 11am to 3pm.
This place needs no introduction, especially for those working around the area.
Its owner, Suresh, ensures that the buffet line-up has a variety of vegetable dishes in addition to meat options.
The curries are cooked in large woks but somehow, the taste is not compromised despite the quantity.
I love the spicy fish sambal that reminds me of my mother’s version. A lot of stalls leave out ginger when cooking fish sambal but I feel it gives the dish an extra “ummphh” to mask the fishy taste (I am not much of a fish eater, by the way).
Here, the cooks use a good amount of ginger that also gives the sambal a different flavour profile from the sotong sambal.
The sotong sambal is quite spicy but is slighty sweet. I like that the squid is not rubbery and was easy to chew.
Fried innards, which my colleagues Sam Tham and Shalini Ravindran said were well marinated and tasty, are also found here.
3. FIVE STAR CURRY HOUSE
No 2A, Jalan Puteri 5/8, Bandar Puteri, Puchong Selangor. Opens daily except the last Thursday of the month. Lunch served from 11am to 3pm.
This was a recommedation from a colleague who eats here quite often and I must say I was impressed.
The main draw for me are the vegetables. Although they use commonly found greens, the style of preparation is different so you do not get bored eating the same thing.
Two of the side dishes that caught my eye are the ladies’ fingers with black eyed peas and the chickpea masala.
The ladies’ fingers with black eyed peas is a dish mothers would make at home, so finding it at a restaurant is a welcome change. The beans add a creamy texture to the base that is rather filling while the okra lends some sweetness to it.
The chickpea masala is cooked perfectly, soft but not mushy. It goes well with hot rice. It is quite unusual to have this preparation with rice but it works for me.
The eatery also has mock meat for vegetarians.
I like the fried chicken here as it is marinated well so each bite is filled with flavour.
I also enjoy the vendakka pulli curry, a sour and spicy concoction using a variety of vegetables with ladies’ finger as the star of the dish.
The food line-up also has options like stir-fried beetroot, a variety of fried fish, including tenggiri and bulus, in addition to other meat dishes like chicken and mutton varuval, pepper chicken, udang sambal and sotong sambal.
4. LOTUS CURRY HOUSE
1-21, Jalan Alfa F U6/F, Pusat Perdagangan Subang Permai, Shah Alam, Selangor. Opens daily for lunch from 11am to 4pm.
Lotus Curry House is our go-to Indian restaurant whenever we are in Shah Alam because the service is quick and the food wholesome.
People flock here as early as 11am to grab the mutton varuval that this place is famous for, and since our lunch schedule is rather erratic, we have only tried it once.
However, once was enough to convince us that the varuval is simply good.
The chicken varuval is equally tasty and has a slight masala flavour to it as opposed to other restaurants that use more pepper. Although the varuval has a slightly reddish hue, do not be afraid as it is only mildly spicy.
I also enjoy the thanni sar as well as the chicken curry that I pair with fried potatoes cut into thin strips.
My colleague recently tried the kodal curry (goat intestines) and he said it was quite good.
I also like to douse my rice with rasam once in a while and order a fried fish for a simple and satisfying lunch. You can opt for pre-fried fish or chicken, or choose to have a piece fried on the spot.
5. SELVAM’S CORNER BRICKFIELDS
Lot 1 and 2, G floor, Medan Selera, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. (Previously from Lorong Chan Ah Tong). Open from Sunday to Friday from 10.30am to 4.30pm.
Selvam’s Corner needs no introduction, especially to those living and working in Brickfields. This stall has been operating for years and was recently relocated to the food court on the ground floor of the Brickfields Parking Complex.
This place is famous for its kuah campur ala nasi kandar and of course, typical Indian curries.
A combination of fish curry, chicken curry and chicken kicap is a great way to start your meal but I add on my favourite thanni sar (vegetable and dhal curry) as well.
The sweet and salty combination of the chicken kicap tones down the spiciness of the curry while the thanni sar balances the flavours well.
I decide on the mutton varuval which is nice and dark, suggesting a long time in the wok.
I like my mutton nice and tender and this place does not disappoint. The meat is well seasoned as well which is really important to me.
I also choose the fish cutlet, which yields quite a bit of fish instead of just potatoes.
Finally, I love that the cook has pudina thoviyal and sambal belacan for the Malaysian kick. The cucumber salad is a good addition to the plate, especially if there are many spicy options on the plate. For vegetables, I opt for the crunchy stir-fried beansprouts.