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Sep 22, 2011 05:30 AM

Penang - Best South Indian Breakfast at Sri Ananda Bahwan

Sri Ananda Bahwan is my fave breakfast joint in Penang's colorful Little India - they serve the crispiest dosas, the fluffiest roti canai (Malaysia-speak for paratha), the tastiest upumas, the softest idlis and the puffiest pooris in Georgetown. It's also got a comfortable air-con dining area, which sets it apart from other Indian restaurants serving South Indian breakfasts in that area.

My latest "food find" in Sri Ananda Bahwan (lost count of the number of times I'd been there) was the Kottu Parotta - paratha bread, choped into small pieces & fried with peppers, onions, chicken, egg & spices, including curry gravy. It's a mish-mash of textures & flavors - in fact, watching the cook prepare the dish on the huge hot-plate was an experience in itself: a noisy clanging of 2 metal spatulas he held in his hands against the hot, flat metal surface as he chopped the paratha & ingredients like a possessed adrenaline-high teppanyaki chef gone berserk.

One of my fave dining spots in Penang :-)

Address details
Sri Ananda Bahwan Restaurant
55 Penang Street
10200 Penang
Tel: 04-2644204

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  1. BTW, the Kothu Parotta is served round the clock, even as a late midnight snack. Here's the episode from Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations' on the Kothu Parotta:

    1. Sri Ananda Bahwan is a chain which started in Butterworth, mainland part of Penang. It spread to the island: one branch in Little India & one in Tanjung Bungah. I've been going to their restaurants for over 10 years but haven't even tried this dish. Must be a new addition to their menu?

      I remembered watching this episode of Anthony Bourdain in Sri Lanka but didn't realise that kothu is available in Penang!

      3 Replies
      1. re: penang_rojak

        Tried the kothu parota at Sri Ananda Bahwan. Sorry, don't like it. It's mushy like Chinese fried koay-kak but not really the kind of taste or texture I look for. I like my roti canai a bit crispy and plain, then I'll pour paruppu (yellow dal curry) all over it.
        I also like Sri Ananda Bahwan's paper tosai with the coconut chutney and more paruppu. The masala tosai with curried potato inside is also very good.
        Also like the samosas and the sweet brown pulot dessert.

        1. re: penang_rojak

          Is there any other restaurant in Penang that serves Sri Lankan food? Looking forward to try the kottu parata.....

          1. re: chocomint

            Don't think I'd come across any Sri Lankan restaurants in Penang during my numerous visits there, but in KL, yes ... today:

        2. Had a better Kothu Parotta last Friday in Singapore - at Shri Anandhem in Upper Dickson Rd (off Serangoon Rd), Little India.
          Shri Anandhem's version came across as lighter, and with more subtle use of spices. The prata flakes were interspersed with generous morsels of chicken-meat and scrambled egg. A side of cucumber raita went beautifully with the Kothu.
          Shri Anandhem also serves a good selection of Chettinad cuisine. Smallish restaurant with one waiter, so maybe should try and go outside peak hours. Not sure how its business is, as the ever-popular Madras New Woodlands is located on the same street, a few doors down, whilst the very well-known Komala Vilas is just round the corner.

          Address details
          Shri Anandhem
          1 Upper Dickson Road
          Singapore 207460
          Tel: +65 6396 9969
          Mobile: +65 9699 5969

          1 Reply
          1. re: klyeoh

            I think I will give Shri Anandhem a try if I can't get a table at Komala Vilas which is always crowded. But I also like Madras New Woodlands very much and you can always get a table in there.

          2. Update on breakfast options at Sri Ananda Bahwan, and what we had this time:
            - Crispy paper thosai - wafer-light, and delicious from the addition of ghee;
            - Masala thosai - filled with spiced potatoes & onions. Very good;
            - Steamed idli rice cakes, smothered with sambhar and served with coconut chutney;
            - Upuma: wheat flavored with mustard seeds, ghee, ginger, onions . Totally delicious;
            - Rice noodles, also cooked in a similar way as the upuma above. Very tasty and a perfect foil for the dhal and meat curries;
            - Flaky, crisp roti canai - the chefs at Sri Ananda Bahwan had obviously changed. These were not as good as before, but still above average;
            - Chicken 65: a popular Indian spiced, fried chicken dish that's very addictive;
            - Masala chicken: a spicy-red curried chicken dish.
            - South Indian-style filtered coffee and milk tea were our preferred beverages.

            8 Replies
            1. re: klyeoh

              So, they've got Chicken 65 there. I didn't know that. Will have to try that the next time I drop by. You & your party weren't waylaid by the Bersih demos, right? Penang's one at the Esplanade was quite peaceful, though traffic jams thru Little India nearby was to be expected.

              1. re: penang_rojak

                Isn't "Chicken 65" an Indo-Chinese dish?

                There are many recipes for it widely available - perhaps one might consider trying one's hand at it? Hmm, I'm thinking of doing it now...

                1. re: huiray

                  I didn't know that Chicken 65 was one of those Indian-style Chinese dishes till very recently - but it's very, very popular and was served in almost every single family-style restaurant in South India.

                  The one we had at Penang's Sri Ananda Bahwan trumped those I had at Ponnusamy's in Chennai: the Penang version was served very hot & crisp, and the marinade seemed to suit our local (Malaysian/Singaporean?) tastes more - hints of chilli & ginger in the marinade, mild and not overpowering. In India, you'll inadvertently get this "strange" masala spice smell which can be quite pungent to the uninitiated. Not sure if it's the overly heavy hand with the fenugreek or cardamom, or a combination of those.

                  I brought back some Lays potato crisps with Indian masala flavor, but no one in the office seemed to take to it because of the unfamiliar smell.

                  1. re: klyeoh

                    Interesting, about the aversion to Indian masala spices.

                  1. re: huiray

                    Made me feel like packing my bags and move back to Singapore pronto :-(

                2. re: klyeoh

                  What's that 10th picture of that greenish-yellowish curry?

                  1. re: huiray

                    You're sharp, huiray. It's a chicken kurmah dish which we didn't order but which was mistakenly delivered to our table. We actually sent it back. Now I realised that I took a photo of that dish but not the masala chicken we consumed.