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Penang, Malaysia - Superb Banana Leaf Lunch at Veloo Vilas

klyeoh Aug 4, 2012 08:45 AM

Veloo Vilas in Penang has been serving out banana leaf meals for over half a century. Located on the eastern periphery of Penang's very atmospheric and bustling Little India district, Veloo Vilas was noisy, busy and every bit as I imagined a popular South Indian eatery would be during a peak meal-time.

Fresh green banana leaves were placed on our tables. Mounds of steamed white rice (one can also opt for the spicy briyani rice) would be ladled onto your banana leaf. Next, a waiter comes by and ladled 3 types of curried vegetable side-dishes around your mound of rice: curried dhal-potatoes, a snake-gourd curry, and a thick, tasty bittergourd curry. All were burning hot and insanely delicious.

Crisp pappadums came next, followed by some cool raita (cucumber-onion-yoghurt mix).

Another waiter came by toting a 3-bucket carrier containing dhal curry sauce, fish curry sauce and chicken curry sauce. He asked for our choice before pouring generous ladlefuls of the curry sauce over our rice. I asked for dhal curry only. My 3 lunch companions asked for all 3 types of curry sauces to be poured over their rice, resulting in a complex taste blend, I'm sure, which I couldn't quite imagine.

Next, the waiters came back asking if we'd like: curried chicken, curried mutton, or crisp-fried chicken drumsticks. I opted for all of them. The curried chicken was a bit too salty for my taste. The mutton curry was delicious, if hellishly spicy.

The fried chicken drumstick? Abso-bloody-lutely divine!!

Best banana leaf meal I'd ever had!

Address details
Veloo Vilas
22 Penang Street
10200 Penang

Tel: +604-2624369

  1. p
    penang_rojak Aug 5, 2012 06:28 AM

    This place is ALWAYS so crowded! I think I'd rather go to Sri Ananda Bahwan down the street. But you're right, the fried chicken "lollipop" drumsticks were the best!

    No photos of the drumsticks? Oh, wait, you did say you were using your hands to eat. Ha ha!

    1 Reply
    1. re: penang_rojak
      klyeoh Aug 5, 2012 06:55 AM

      Penang_rojak - Sri Ananda Bahwan is an old favorite of mine, but I wanted to try something else for a change. Besides, every time I visited that place (and I do that once or twice a year), the cooks and waiters seemed to have all changed! One time, their prata was the best I'd had anywhere, then the last time I was there, their prata was chewy and was simply "average". One thing Sri Ananda Bahwan maintained well was their dhal curry: thick, full of flavors and served in generous amounts. That, I like :-)

    2. huiray Aug 4, 2012 09:02 AM

      Which was the snake gourd curry? (I don't see "pieces of it"...) What was the red one on the right? On the rice? (looks like lady's fingers in that one...)

      Fork & spoon, I presume. (Or maybe you did without this time...)

      5 Replies
      1. re: huiray
        klyeoh Aug 4, 2012 04:40 PM

        Snake gourd's in the middle - it has the same texture as Chinese loofah.

        I used my hand this time - didn't see any cutlery in the entire restaurant, which has a 99% Indian clientele. Which probablty explained why you couldn't see any photos taken *after* we started eating :-D

        1. re: klyeoh
          huiray Aug 4, 2012 05:47 PM

          Aha. Smothered ("hidden") in the gravy. The "snake gourd" I think of is the sort my mother used in making one type of curry and which were long and skinny, slightly ridged, which are really "Drumsticks" – and often old enough so that one scraped the inner flesh off with your teeth :-) from the somewhat fibrous outer skin. ( e.g. http://www.indiamart.com/sri-vigneswara/fresh-vegetables.html#drumstick ) I have to think a bit to think of the actual "snake gourd" more commonly used/called by that name (e.g. http://www.indiamart.com/sri-vigneswa...) which would be much like the ridge-less "Chinese loofah"**.

          ** By "Chinese loofah" do you mean Luffa acutangula? The ridged variety of 絲瓜 ("see kua"), a.k.a. "Angled loofah" a.k.a. "Cantonese see kua" (廣東絲瓜) a.k.a. "Victory gourd" (勝瓜) ?
          OR, d'you mean the non-ridged variety, plain "see kua" (絲瓜)/Luffa cylindrica/Luffa aegyptiaca ?

          Heh, I'm smiling just a little at your having to use your hands this time. Yes, I'm sure it would have messed up your smartphone or your camera after you started eating. :-)

          1. re: huiray
            klyeoh Aug 5, 2012 06:58 AM

            Huiray, the snake gourd which I referred to was similar to those I see in the Indian supermarkets back in Singapore, and are usually 1.5 to 2 feet long in length, and smooth, with a cucumber-like skin (photo I gleaned from the Internet attached).

            Not really like the "drumsticks", which I also happen to like *big-time* :-D
            In Singapore, the Indians referred to the drumsticks as "murungikai".

            1. re: huiray
              klyeoh Sep 3, 2012 07:36 AM

              huiray, I was in Jalan Tun Sambanthan (Brickfields) this evening when I saw these snake gourd sold in the Indian grocery shops there.

              Photo 1: The snake gourd

              Photo 2: Snake gourd side-by-side with the drumstick vegetable. As you can see, the drumstick is much thinner in circumference compared to the snake gourd.

              Photo 3: Another Indian grocer actually stacked his snake gourd together with the angled loofah, most probably because the two vegetables have quite similar textures/tastes when cooked.

              1. re: klyeoh
                huiray Sep 3, 2012 12:55 PM

                Thanks for the photos.

                Yes, I'm aware of the differences between "snake gourd" and "drumsticks". I used to eat them too (reluctantly) when my mother made curries that included the respective ingredient. I was commenting on the "overlap" in termilogy that I heard between the two way back when, terminology that was less precise than it could have been. ;-)

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