[Kuala Lumpur] South Indian Breakfast Options from Janova

Janova Restaurant at MCIS Building serves the best array of South Indian breakfast options in the Petaling Jaya New Town area.

Tamil chefs work almost round the clock to churn out banana leaf lunches and dinners, but my interest in the restaurant was in their breakfast menu. Some of my faves:

  1. Pongal - a delicately-spiced thick rice porridge - it’s gingery, studded with black peppercorns which give it a slight spicy accent, nutty from the inclusion of yellow lentils, and amazingly piquant from a light touch of South Indian aromatics. It makes for a fortifying meal to start the day with.

  1. Steamed idlis (rice-flour cakes) - delicate little discs of pillowy deliciousness, served with coconut chutney, dhal curry, and a spicy kara-chutney (tomato-onion relish).

  1. Kal-thosai - a traditional, spongey-soft rice -flour pancake with a sourish-tinge from the yoghurt. It’s also served with same condiments which consisted of coconut chutney, dhal curry, and kara-chutney.

  1. Crispy thosai - this is a more modern take on the breakfast thosai which has gained popularity in the past couple of decades - I’d never seen this growing up in the 70s. It’s made thinner and larger than the traditional thosai - wafer-thin and very crisp, especially on the edges.

  1. Upuma - one of my fave breakfast items of all time: a savoury and utterly delicious spiced semolina dish which always cause me to overeat. Unfortunately, this dish turned out to be the weakest on Janova’s repertoire of breakfast offerings. I also ordered a potato-filled samosa on the side - it was also not the best I’d had.

  1. Roti canai (otherwise known as paratha, parotta or prata outside Malaysia) - flaky, multi-layered, slightly stretchy-textured pancakes which Malaysia and Singapore are famous for. I was actually recommended to Janova for this dish by one of my Tamil colleagues. It was good, but also not the best I’d had in KL.

  1. Tek Tarik - frothy milk tea, Malaysian-style. I remembered this hot beverage as being almost sickly-sweet, but changing tastes among Malaysians has resulted in a less-sweet, more drinkable rendition these days. Choose this over any coffee beverage in any South Indian restaurant - they simply do tea better than coffee.

Certainly the number one spot for me to have a good South Indian breakfast in the PJ New Town area.

Address

The Janova Restaurant
Lot 6-GA, Wisma MCIS
2 Jalan Barat, Seksyen 52
46200 Petaling Jaya
Tel: +603 7954 0749
Open: 6am-12 midnight daily.

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Thosai?

Looks exactly like what I’d know as a dosa. Forgive my ignorance, Peter, but is it different or is it just a different spelling/pronounciation?

Love the idli serving. I could be very greedy!

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It’s just the spelling difference. The Malaysian-Indians are overwhelmingly Tamil, so the Tamil pronunciation (and accompanying spelling in English/Malay) is “thosai”, which would be known as “dosa” in most other parts of India.

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Hi Peter, another nomenclature question. Is the Kal-thosai the same as an uttapam? It certainly looks similar and both are made from rice flour but the ones I’ve been having have had chilli and sometimes tomatoes but similar chutneys to go with. That and a glass of masala chai was my go to breakfast in Southern India, sometimes with a couple of fried eggs if I could get them.

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Uttapam is thicker than the Kal-thosai - it’s much like comparing a thick pancake to a crepe. Uttapam also tend to have onions, chilli and tomatoes incorporated into it, much like Rava-thosai (which is also thinner).

When I was in Chennai last year, this was what I got when I asked the chef at Leela Palace Hotel for an Uttapam:

And this was the Kal-thosai the chef prepared on another morning:

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Breakfast today - golden-fried puffy puris, with dhal curry and spiced potatoes.

Puncture the puri to let off the hot steam, before dipping pieces of the unleavened bread into the spiced gravy.

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