NEW Chettiar’s Tiffin Café 39 Lebuh Penang, George Town (04 262 2443).
This humble café sits almost at the start of Penang’s Little India on Lebuh Penang. Its menu offers not only the usual Indian favourites (such as curry, samosa, biryani, murtabak and the like) but also fish and chips, prawn noodles and breakfast of eggs and sausages. The latter certainly sets it apart from all the other restaurants in the area, which normally offer straightup Indian fare and little else. For a smaller meal, we’d recommend the veggie burger at RM6. It comes with a small serving of fries and coleslaw. The veggie burger patty is made of 100 percent mashed vegetables, including carrots and onions. It has a tendency to crumble but the texture and spicy flavour redeems it in our opinion. Be warned that this is a spicy one – slathering the coleslaw onto the burger before your first bite cools down the spiciness a little. If you’re there for just a drink, the local coffees are pretty good, but do grab a samosa or two. You won’t regret it.
Pork-free. Child friendly. Daily, 8.30am–10pm. $
Chettiar’s Tiffin Café Kedai Kopi Toon Leong, Jalan Transfer.
By 10am, Deen Nasi Kandar is normally close to sold out. The quality of the nasi kandar here is excellent; topped with selections of beef, squid, fish or chicken, as well as various vegetables. Make sure to try the catfish head curry.
Gem’s Restaurant: House of Fine Indian Cuisine 66 Lebuh Bishop, George Town (04 262 4070/Facebook: Gem Restaurant Penang).
Gem’s doorknobs appear in the form of two ornately embellished elephants and its expansive dining area is strewn with Indian portraits, wood carvings and sculptures. But make no mistake; Gem isn’t all style and no substance. The fact that Gem hails from India can be taken as an assurance of authenticity – its team of Indian chefs specialise in traditional and contemporary Indian cuisine, as is immediately evident in the first dig into the Hyderabad Chicken. The name of the restaurant probably stems from Gem’s self-proclaimed principle of treating customers like precious jewellery, and judging from its three outlets in Malaysia, its patrons must be enjoying the pampering. Its signatures include palak butter masala, which contains pieces of homemade cheese in a spiced curry complemented best with naan. Also try the fish moilee Kerala style and mutton sheekh kebab, which uses tender local mutton, infused with a fragrant spiciness.
Halal. Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 11am–11pm. $$
Kapitan’s 93 Lebuh Chulia (04 264 1191).
Open 24 hours a day, Kapitan’s has made a name for itself and its tandoori chicken. Kapitan’s is also known for its nasi biryani, naans and badam milk,
a rather eccentric mix of a drink made from pure cow milk boiled with ground almond, cashew nuts and raisins with sugar.
Pork-free. Daily, 24 hours. $
Karaikudi Restaurant 20 Jalan Pasar, George Town; 1K Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah (04 263 1345/www.karaikudi.com.my).
Nestled deep in the heart of Little India, Karaikudi Restaurant offers quintessential South Indian fare. Some of its most renowned dishes include the pepper-fried ladies’ fingers, the mutton chukka varuval (mutton cooked with onions, spices and curry leaves) and the masala thosai.
Pork-free. Credit cards accepted. Daily, 11am–11pm; closed on Deepavali. $
Kashmir Restaurant 105 Jalan Penang (04 263 7411).
The tandoori chicken at Kashmir restaurant is highly acclaimed, as is the naan. Although Kashmir may be on the pricier end of the scale, it excels in terms of range; it not only serves a huge variety of Northern Indian and Kashmiri appetisers, main courses and desserts, it also doubles as a bar that offers a mélange of cocktails and spirits to accompany your meal. Kashmir, with an authentic Indian flair, is ornately embellished and dimly lit in a manner that affords it a cosiness that makes dining there a pleasure.
Child friendly. Credit cards accepted. Disabled friendly. Daily, 11am–11pm. $$
Passions of Kerala 102-C-3, New World Park, 102 Jalan Burma (04 227 2550); 5 Lorong Endah 4, Brown Garden, Gelugor (04 357 8550).
Passions of Kerala is known for its banana leaf rice – a South Indian dish comprised of rice accompanied by vegetables, poppadoms, dhal and curry served on a banana leaf. One can also order supplementary dishes such as the signature crab masala, deep-fried bawal hitam (black pomfret), sambal fish, fried squid and chicken masala, which are served atop a banana leaf.
Halal. Child friendly. Disabled friendly. Daily, 12noon–3.30pm, 6.30pm– 10.30pm. $
NEW Penang Special Samosa 45 Lebuh Queen, George Town (016 401 7595).
This unassuming stall has a way with the locals, and you'll be pleased to discover a range of deep-fried Indian snacks on display. Begin this humble exploration with some golden crispy samosas stuffed with tuna, chicken or vegetables. Other tidbits like vadai, halwa mascard and pakkoda are also good for teatime snacks. Before you leave, buy a bag of chickpeas seasoned with chilli, spices and curry leaves. You won't regret it.
Halal. Mon–Sat, 9am till late; closed on Sun. $