Monday, September 27, 2010

Northern Indian Food @ Malabar Palace, Hartamas Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur

paneer fingers

Apologies for the intermittent blog absences as work beckons that I've not been updating. I often have great plans for my weekends. Friday evenings start out with a long list of resolutions  but on Sunday evenings when the weekend is about to vanish, most of those must-dos are just only on paper. One of it has been "to blog" and this post has been admittedly sitting in my blog inbox for a long long time, so today we mark one milestone as it goes out to be published.

spinach papdi chat

For the past few months, every time I met up with my foodie friend CS, she'll have me craving for the enticing Indian goodies of Malabar Palace. It'll be all talk every night and while we itched for their goodies, it took us many moons later before we ended up here.

flowers decorate each table, the mixed vegetarian tandoori grill, the must-eat vegetable chutney

Unlike its royal sounding name, I admit the place is more like a hole in a wall since it is very cosy and kinda non descript (in fact I've never noticed its existence until my friend brought me here!). While it may be lacking in ambiance, the food made up for it, and like another friend said when we did a revist, it reminded her of the good old university days in England where we used to get great Northern Indian food at every corner. Ah, those were indeed carefree wonderful days filled with chicken tikka masala.

Malabari Lamb Varutal

If you're dining in a big group, it is best to book a table as the place tends to get crowded especially since it only sports a few tables. The chef is formerly from Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Shangri-La Hotel hence some of the plating of the food look a little different like our starter of paneer fingers (RM12) - paneer pieces deep fried and topped with a dribble of cumin sauce with a curry leaf. I totally enjoyed this as each piece was soft and mildly spicy with the sauce and the deep fried curry leaf. 

fluffy batura, Malabari Special Chicken curry, Malabari Kalan, Okra Masala

Start off the meal with the pappadums that is served with a spicy and slightly tart vegetable chutney that one can't stop eating. You'll find chopped French beans, carrot, bittergourd, all mixed up with chilli, mustard seeds, garlic and ginger in the chutney.  Eyeing the menu, we zoomed in on the unusual spinach papdi chat (RM6) and was pre-warned that it's not something the Chinese would like (we found out later our friend CS had tried it before and didn't quite like it as she expected a different item). Served in a glass, it resembled a sundae of white yoghurt laced with a orange sauce, chickpeas, potato cubes and topped with spinach green, yellow and orange crackers. The orange sauce was a little sweet and we found out it was made from mango powder. Eaten together with the yoghurt to balance out the sweet sauce and spicy chickpeas and potatoes, it was tasted fine, until the sweet mango sauce got to us when the yoghurt ran out.

kannur prawn

Then came the onslaught of curries and two types of mixed tandoori grills - a vegetarian and non-vegetarian one. I love the Malabari Kalan (RM7.50) that contained the unusual raw uncooked banana cooked in yoghurt and coconut. It was creamy with a slight tangy taste that one could keep eating non stop. Another favourite was the Malabari curry chicken (RM15) - reminscent of chicken tikka masala with pieces of chicken in a tangy creamy sauce. The lamb varutal (RM15), I had twice before and the taste can be a little inconsistent - sometimes a bit too chunky the lamb bits and sometimes just right. Nevertheless, it is still a good dish eaten with rice. The kannur prawn was a spicy tangy mix that complemented the other creamy curries.


I love the vegetables here as they are presented in a similar style, whether it is the okra, brinjal or cauliflower done masala style. They have a tangy taste with lots of chopped onions to give it a slightly sweet taste. I preferred the vegetarian tandoori grill (RM15) to the mixed tandoori grill (RM24) as it had an unusual selection of cauliflower tandoori, paneer tikka and bhara potatoes. The bhara potatoes is stuffed with dried fruits, nuts and cottage cheese, while I enjoyed the crunchy cauliflower with a mild hot taste.

To end the meal, opt for Masala Tea or Mint Tea with their kulfi - mango or pistachio. Both are equally enjoyable but some insist the mango kulfi is better. I don't think this will be the last of our visits to Malabar as my friends are hooked on the food so hopefully we'll make more discoveries here.

Malabar Palace
G-13A, Ground Floor
Hartamas Shopping Centre
Sri Hartamas
Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-6201 0792

(Pork Free. Place is opposite Nagomi Shabu Shabu. Booking is recommended as limited tables available. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.


J said...

Wah. Never noticed this place before. Thanks for highlighting it. :)
(will save this for my next carb/ curry craving attack)

boo_licious said...

J - it's ok to not notice it as I didn't too until my friend told me abt it. Love those curries here, not too overwhelming creamy since they have a tangy edge to them.

Bangsar-bAbE said...

I think I've seen this place before. It's opposite Nagomi right? I like how the spinach papdi chat is presented. So pretty!

thule a.k.a leo said...

Northern Indian?? Are their Tandoori good?? I'm a sucker for this dish

qwazymonkey said...

from a hole in the wall kinda place Boo. Kinda "atas" looking if you know what I mean? I wanna lick my monitor! :)

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

the plating seems very fine dining ish..nice hole in the wall!

Michelle Chin said...

Hey do you know any good banana leaf rice places in KL? :D

Ellen Whyte said...

I adore north Indian food. Making my way there....

Kenny Mah said...

Gonna persuade HairyBerry to go for our Indian makan date here instead of Brickfields... something new... and looks GOOD! :D

(Pity Devil doesn't like Indian fare; thank goodness I have got you guys to count on, hehe.)

Ciki said...

yum yum.. i wanna i wanna gooooo! wait for PA come home vee go again yarrrr :D

ronnie said...

Yes Boo. Student days in England. And northern Indian food in Westbourne Grove. Affordable & delicious even on a student's budget,

Sean said...

gosh, i think it's been nearly a year since i've been inside hartamas shopping centre! wonder what has closed (and opened) since then! i hope that sao nam is still there :D

foodbin said...

the greens in Indian restaurants tends to be too finely chopped to be enjoy (eat).

Muhammad said...

Jadual Majlis-majlis Haul Imam Al Haddad 2010 :

Julian Si said...

I too didn't realise there was a good indian in the area!

That's one genre of food which I can find actually find in Abu Dhabi, not surprising I guess with the number of indian nationals here!

Beautifully photographed, dear Masak2, as always :-)

AugustDiners said...

haha, its funny i have a to-do-list too, but only its work related and it seemed like none of my papers were ever fully crossed out :P kinda surprise to find this post because there's not many malaysian floggers who writes about indian food nowadays although it is one of the three main cuisines in malaysia! The problem with indian food is, i often don't know what to order, i mean fluffy batura definitely sounds foreign to me! hehe

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