Malgudi when I was told about at Ohana Recipes, honestly, I was dazed. Never heard but sure hei! hei! hei!.Intriguing-enchanting name that got me over-excited and automatically I became louder and louder until the half-half gently calmed me down. I then for a moment visualized I was somewhere in a small historical village in India. More so, for the next two weeks before coming over to Malgudi, every day I kept chanting – Malgudi! Malgudi! Malgud!!. Well, the fascinating name I truly love.
Initially the other half agreed to come along though rarely (in fact never) he tacks along for food reviews. Then he opted out because after the long-heavy duty “yam seng” Friday night, he knew it will be impossible to wake up on time the day after. Okayyy! No problem honey-bunny I replied and I roped in the foodie friend to arrive at Malgudi at about 12.10pm.
The exterior of Malgudi “just-so” resembling a colorful ordinary castle I admit I wasn't convinced. However, upon stepping inside, I thought I was in a Maharaja Palace. Only thing, sob!sob! Maharaja didn’t usher me but the royal service of the manager made us comfortable. Thank you Sir! He I think had a cultural shock meeting this vocal and modern Indian lady. Well, you can’t blame him because I was like a monkey, here, there and everywhere, from the second floor dining area with a balcony, then posing-posing on the staircase and finally when the one and only customer started staring, I knew - “Behave Nava”.
To the rustic ambiance, a million yeses - light brown tiled flooring, dark brown tables and chairs, beautiful Indian decorations/pictures and the friend even commented the toilet is so nice she wanted to sleep inside. By the way, Malgudi I was later told is a mystical place or fictitious story but no changes, I still love Malgudi. And now, lunch called. From the menu featuring true-typical Northern and Southern items, I was gamed for the lunch set meals.
The friend, oh well, she started choosing the individual dishes and yours truly didn’t want to interrupt her enthusiasm. Still, I reminded her “anything goes but please, don’t over-order unless you can finish all up” Then after a small time discussion before ordering and while waiting (not for too long), I sipped the sikku malli (dry ginger and coriander) tea, divinely nice and she had the simple-nice salt lassi.
Dishes arrived simultaneously within a couple of minutes apart. The butter chicken - succulent boneless chicken brimming in a vibrant, thick, buttery and garlicky gravy with tad bit of spiciness. Upon tasting, obviously, butter and garlic the core ingredients whereas the spices for the interplay of flavours. An extra dose of spiciness I would have been appreciated but the friend upon dipping the fluffy-soft and easy to tear garlic naan in the gravy, went like “nice-lah, nice-lah, lovely!”.
The prawn varuval cooked with lots of chopped shallots, spices and curry leaves - “dang the goodness, dang the fresh prawns, dang the natural sweetness of the shallots and dang again, the aroma of curry leaves for the profound taste and non-chocking spiciness. A classy winner, prawn varuval we agreed is the dish of the day.
Also showcasing a role-play of spices was the bendi masala the friend insisted on ordering. Because it was her call, she was high over heels in love with the prim and proper and non-slimy bendi in the voluminous gravy. Indeed, an authentic dish which wasn't a let-down and I liked it as well.
The palak paneer, ever featured in most Indian restaurants couldn't be faulted either. Cubed paneer (fresh unripen cheese), mushy green hue spinach and mildly enhanced with spices, a tiny drizzle of tanginess I thought would have further elevated the taste. Nevertheless, I didn’t let go of the paneer and the spinach, the friend finished off.
Dessert looked tempting enough and even though I was full and to stop the friend from bugging me, gulab jamun and rasgulla arrived. Indian dessert, do I have to elaborate on the sweetness? Of course not. Thus, for the sugar rush, between the two, I loved the soft spongy sugar absorbed white rasgulla (ball shaped dumpling made with Indian cottage cheese and semolina dough). The gulab jamun (kneaded milk solids and deep fried) soaked in the sugary rose water cinnamon syrup, just a pinch. The friend on the other hand persisted on calling for another round and when I responded - “you order, you eat because I'm done and over”, silence is golden said it all.
To wash down the tummy filling meal, the ice salted lime juice I drank up at one go to sustain my figure whereas the friend was contented with sky juice. By now (past one pm), Malgudi was packed to the rim and more customers were streaming in. Certainly I didn't want to take up the table. Before leaving, we thanked the manager for the knowledge about cooking with pure spices and to Malgudi, the biggest thank you. I am still a little disappointed the real Maldugi doesn't exist. Otherwise I wouldn't have hesitated to temporary ditch my other half-half and flown there. Guess I still have a choice by returning to this Malgudi for “vanga ellorum sappidalam/come everyone, let tuck" into the classic Indian cuisine.No. 17, Lorong Universiti C,