[Penang, Malaysia] North Indian/Mughlai lunch at Kashmir

Kashmir at the Oriental Hotel was started back in 1984 by the friendly, chatty Johnny Mohan. Johnny himself is Sindhi, but his restaurant’s repertoire is crafted to give the customers exactly what they are looking for when one thinks of North Indian/Mughlai cuisine: from tandooris to chicken tikkas and kormas, and biryanis & pulaos. Through the decades, Kashmir has built itself a loyal customer base, an is renowned for having perhaps the best tandoori and biryani in town.

The larger-than-life owner, Johnny Mohan

We started off our lunch with some vegetable pakoras, served with mint, tamarind and yoghurt dips.

The mains followed: first, the tandoori chicken, served fresh & hot out of the oven. These were perfectly-grilled: tender, juicy and smoky-delicious.

Next up were the curried white snapper cooked in masala spices and a dal/yellow lentil curry, accompanied by fluffy, hot naan bread.

All the dishes were above average by Penang standards, and one can see why the restaurant has held its own against newcomers for the past 4 decades. Prices are high, though, but you do pay for the quality.

Kashmir at the Oriental Hotel
105, Penang Road
10000 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +604-250 0103
Opening hours: 11am to 11pm daily


Looks pretty perfect North Indian food to me. And good to see the tables properly distanced.

The owner of my favourite Mumbai street food restaurant is Sindhi. As you’ll know the province is in Pakistan but the Sindhis are Hindu. He was telling us that, at partition, the Hindus including his family had to flee south into India - and there were many deaths.

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Yes, there was a huge exodus of Hindus and other non-Muslims from Sindh Province into India during the Partition and creation of Pakistan. I have a couple Sindhi friends who are Singapore-born, but they are Muslims as their parents were from modern-day Pakistani Sindh. I also have a Sindhi friend, born in Kuala Lumpur, who is Hindu, and his parents came from India, where they had settled after the turbulent exodus from Sindh.

Just sharing some pictures of Sindhi food taken at Kailash Parbat, a Sindhi restaurant back in Singapore a few years ago. Kailash Parbat originated in 1952 in Mumbai, India. It was started by two Mulchandani brothers who moved to Bombay from Sindh in the aftermath of the 1947 Great Partition. The restaurant specializes in chaats (Northern Indian street snacks), especially the liquid-filled Pani Puri.

Here, my colleague (he’s not Sindhi, but a Dawoodi Bohra) was trying out the house special Pani Puri. He was just as fascinated by Sindhi cuisine as I was at the time:

  1. Pani Puri - Kailash Parbat’s legendary specialty chaat. These are crispy hollow pastry shells, filled with cubed potatoes, onions, herbs & chickpeas. You fill the pastry with sweet-sour tamarind sauce & flavoured liquid (pani), then pop the whole thing into your mouth.
    As you bite into the shell, it shatters, releasing a torrent of flavoured sweet-spicy water into your mouth. The symphony of tastes & textures is truly amazing.

  2. Hariyali paneer tikka - grilled patties of spinach, fenugreek seeds, herbs & paneer cheese.

  3. Chaat platter, consisting of : crispy mini-baskets filled with corn kernels, Dahi Vada (lentil patties covered with sweet yoghurt) and Bhel Puri (mixed crisps with chopped onions, tomatoes & cilantro), all covered with crispy Sev, drizzled with tamarind juice, smothered over with sweet yoghurt, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

  4. Moongan Ji Makhni Dal - an atypical Sindhi thick dhal dish with special tadka (tempered spice) and topped with Sindhi masala. It had the consistency of cooked polenta.

  5. Sindhi vegetable curry - a rather watery, tamarind-infused vegetarian curry with potatoes, okra, string beans, cauliflower & lentils.

  6. The usual garlic naan (left) and the brown-hued Sindhi chapati (right)

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