[Penang, Malaysia] Dinner at Sardaarji - Flavours of Punjab, China Street

Ever since I moved to Penang in 2017, I’d always bemoaned the lack of a Punjabi restaurant in George Town, amidst its sizeable Indian population. Majority of Indian restaurants in Penang are Tamil-Muslim, Tamil vegetarian and Tamilian banana leaf rice joints, with a few North Indian spots offering generic renditions of tandooris, naan and butter chicken.

I satisfy my yearning for Punjabi food mainly at the langar (communal kitchen) of the Wadda Gurdwara (Sikh temple). But gurdwaras usually serve only vegetarian fare in their langars, so one cannot find those rich, meaty curries which Punjabi cuisine is renowned for.

So, I was more than delighted when I came across a 4-day-old Punjabi restaurant: Sardaarji - Flavours of Punjab on China Street (near the intersection with Beach Street) last Sunday whilst looking for a quick bite in-between watching the street performances at the George Town Festival (the annual arts fest which Penang is famous for).

The flatbreads were kneaded, rolled out and griddle-cooked upon order - the chapatis and the potato-stuffed aloo parathas we had were especially delicious: soft and fluffy as only freshly-made flatbreads could be.

To go with the flatbreads, we ordered a few types of meats - all of which were typical Punjabi renditions: spicy, greasy and heavy!!

  1. Rogan josh - an ultra-spicy, tomato-ey mutton stew, bursting with aromatic spices and perked up with ginger & chillis. The chunks of mutton were served on-the-bone but tender.

  2. Mutton kurma - this is a Punjabi rendition, hence it doesn’t have the light-coloured beige gravy one tends to associate with kurma/korma. Instead, one has a fiery-red, spicy rendition, replete with shredded mutton meat, onions and crisp-fried shallots.

  3. Punjabi chicken - this is a dry-ish curry with a strong tomato-onion flavour. The chicken meat was fall-off-the-bone tender.

  4. Palak paneer - this was the standard classic Indian cheese and spinach number, and not much different from the renditions in other North Indian restaurants.

  5. Aloo gobi - another classic North Indian preparation of cauliflower paired with potaoes. The Punjabi version is much greasier from the liberal amounts of ghee used in the cooking.

  6. Dhal tadka - one of my faves: yellow dhal/lentil curry. Again, it’s a variant of the common dhal curry - the Punjabi rendition being rather spicier.

  7. Desserts were the typical ultra-sweet gulab jamun and laddoo, both almost lethal enough to induce insulin-shock.

For a new set-up, the kitchen is working like clockwork, churning out some very good Punjabi fare which was as I had expected.

Sardaarji - Flavours of Punjab
6 China Street (Lebuh China)
George Town 10200
Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60102202312/+60124747069
Opening hours: 11am to 10pm Tue to Sun. Closed on Mondays.


I can’t wait for my trip to Penang in Sept. Love your posts, content, insight. I’m learning a lot :slight_smile:

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Two of our favourite dishes there, Peter. The rogan josh looks fab - I can almost taste it. On the other hand, Mrs H is very partial to aloo gobi and isnt keen on your photo, saying it looks a bit too “wet”. Maybe the ghee you mention.

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Yup, it’s pretty “gluggy”.
Light is definitely not in the Punjabi cuisine’s vocabulary, as far as they are concerned. :joy:

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Back to Sardaarji for dinner this evening.

We started our dinner this evening with chicken samosas

The mains followed:
Murgh makhani (chicken in creamy, spiced, butter gravy)

Gobi aloo mattar (spiced cauliflower-potato-green peas)

Dhal makhani (creamed black lentils)

Plain chapati and onion parontha

Finished off the meal with some very good almond kulfi.

A typical gut-busting, carb-heavy Punjabi meal! The current “movement control order” in Penang, coupled with the wet weather saw a rather quiet restaurant this evening. There was only a table of 4, and another table of two who came before us. Another couple walked in just as we were leaving. A far cry from the usually bustling restaurant pre-COVID days. This pandemic is really making it hard for restaurateurs.


Punjabi kadhi pakoras are essentially crisp-fried onion fritters, soaked in a tangy, spiced yogurt sauce.

The Hindi word “kadhi” refers to a slow-cooked sour curd, whereas “pakora” means fritters made from gram flour (“besan”). The curd sauce is also usually thickened with gram flour.

The fritters here are made from a savoury, spiced batter consisting of onions, gram flour and seasonings. Gram flour is made from skinned black chickpeas and has a nutty flavour.

The Punjabi kadhi is different from the other regional variations of kadhi: it tends to be thicker and creamier. The onion pakora offers a textural contrast, as well as balances the creamy-richness of the curd sauce.

When Punjabi kadhi pakora is served with steamed rice or jeera rice, it’s kadhi chawal - “chawal” is the Hindi word for rice. One can also serve kadhi with roti.

My dinner this evening was Punjabi kadhi pakoras courtesy of Sangeetha Kaur of “Sardaarji – Flavours of Punjab”. She sent both jeera rice and chapati bread to accompany the kadhi pakoras.