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 :-)
Sri Ananda Bahwan Restaurant
55 Penang Street
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!
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.
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.
1 Upper Dickson Road
Tel: +65 6396 9969
Mobile: +65 9699 5969
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.
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.