Kerala’s coconut-enriched cuisine has always been one of the tastiest among India’s rich collection of regional cooking styles.
In George Town, where South Indian cuisine is often dominated by either Tamil-Hindu/vegetarian or Tamil-Muslim cooking, Shobana’s Kitchen offers a tasty alternative with its Keralan dishes.
We were there for lunch today, over-ate (!) and were absolutely stuffed to the gills by the time we left:
- Our banana leaf lunch included spiced Keralan vegetables like mulangi (radish), chorakai (bottle gourd), and a refreshing salad made from vellarika (cucumber) & savala (onions) tossed in curd.
An indispensable Keralan relish called injipuli , made of ginger, jaggery, tamarind and green chilis, was provided on the side.
Meen Pollichatu - Keralan-style spiced fish steak, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. The fish steaks, moist and perfectly cooked, was smothered liberally with a thick, red chili-onion-turmeric paste, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over open fire, like a sort of Robinson Crusoe fish en papillote.
Tasted divine, like Dante’s comedy, before the heat which followed pretty much turned one’s tongue into Dante’s inferno. So glad I had my mango lassi handy.
Kozhierchi Kothamalli - Keralan coriander chicken, perhaps South India’s answer to Thai green curry, where green peppers were used in place of red ones to give the overall dish a deceptively milder appearance. Be forewarned, the chili-heat was simply lying in ambush before the assault began. Chili-heads would adore this dish.
Two types of puttu - steamed rice flour-grated coconut funnel cakes: we had the white rice and the brown, organic rice versions. I much preferred the latter, which had a delicious nutty flavour.
In this region, the Malayalees of Kerala, just like the Tamils of Tamil Nadu, the Telugus of Andhra Pradesh, Bengalis, Gujeratis and Punjabis, have been in Malaysia and Singapore for at least two centuries, as colonial British Malaya was closely associated with the British Raj. Their cuisines in Penang, as elsewhere here, have intermeshed with each other, and evolved, whilst retaining some of their defining characteristics.
So, the Keralan food here at Shobana’s Kitchen seemed to have strong Tamil influences, as Tamils are traditionally the majority among the Indian diaspora in Malaysia (85% of Indians) and Singapore (58% of Indians).
Our hostess, the restaurant manager Shoba, was incredibly genial & friendly. We are already planning a return visit soon, to explore more dishes on their menu.
20D, Lebuh Penang (Penang Street), 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-226 1004
Operating hours: 8am to 6pm, Tue-Sun. Closed on Mondays.