Malabar Palace, Hartamas Shopping Centre: A Hot & Spicy Friendship

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I’m not sure if I’ve told you this before, but my bestie (not to be mistaken with the BFF) and I have a strange anecdote for a bad day. We’ll meet up, rant and numb ourselves with a blistering huge dose of Indian curries. Indian food is like music, if made right it is a symphony of taste. Each dish has its own intricate beat and rhythm, like the fleeting strum of the sitar or drumming of a tabla, as the flavours hit our palate. Food is, after all, the music to our bellies and calms the soul.

Our love affair with spices may not have been very long nor noble, but Indian cuisine enjoys a special place in our hearts. The very first meal I’ve ever had with Lis was an Indian one. Back then we were just two odd and uncool (or were we just too cool for the other wannabes in designer-labeled jeans?) strangers forced for company. It was lunch and nothing fancy. We had roti telur with fish curry at a mamak stall just around the corner from our art college. I can’t remember if we’ve eaten them with extra onions or sambal, but I remembered we had a good time poking fun at the other weirdos in our class. That would be the start of many more Indian-inspired breakfasts, lunches, tea breaks, dinners and suppers shared over the next 2-years of our miserable lives studying there. After college, we’ve each set out on our own ways to opposing sides of Australia, and never really kept in touch.

It wasn’t until I was back in Kuala Lumpur a couple years later, through the advent of Facebook Friendster, that I found a silly picture of her pushing a shopping cart down the streets of Melbourne and wearing a humiliating hoodie. Very salah (wrong) and un-glam on so many levels. At that moment, I knew I had to save her from any future embarrassment on social media. To my delight, we met up and picked up like old times. We had fun but I gave her an ultimatum. She had to choose between that ridiculous profile picture or future spicy dates with me. Suffice to say, the picture has now vanished along with Friendster and we continued our long tradition of bitching and curries. Although these days it seems a little harder to do so, she’s married and I’ve a partner who’s spice-intolerant, but we’d jump at the opportunity whenever we can.

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This time our hot session brought us to Malabar Palace in a dark and tiny corner of Hartamas Shopping Centre. The ambience is nothing as regal as its name suggest, but the food is definitely laced with gold here. Our first taste of the vegetable chutney with finely chopped up French beans, carrots, and bittergourd confirmed everything we’ve ever read about this nondescript Northern Indian restaurant. We wiped the shot glass clean with a basket of paper thin pappadams before any of the starters arrived. Next, the Chicken Tikka Wrapped in Indian Thin Bread was plated beautifully like something off a high-end joint, but its unpretentious prices definitely hold no hint of that fact. Perhaps, the chef’s experience working at the Mandarin Oriental and Shangri-la Hotel has something to do with its artistic flair.

We loved the Vegetarian Tandoori Grill that came with a combination of paneer tikka (grilled farmer cheese), chunky cauliflower tandoori (covered with a sour and mildly spicy yogurt marinade seasoned with garam masala, garlic, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper and red chili powder) and bhara potatoes (which is stuffed with dried fruits, nuts and cheese) sizzling on a hot plate. The highly recommended Malabar Palace Special Chicken Curry is an immaculate creation with tender chicken pieces cooked in an ultra buttery and tangy coconut gravy – flavoured by mustard seed and curry leaves. Its rich sauce made the perfect dip for our fluffy Naan orders.

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At this point we were beginning to feel stuffed, but as always we would have ordered more than we can chew. Having said that, we also find the portions here slightly bigger compared to most Indian restaurants in town – definitely value for your money. Our lunch was completed with the arrival of the Meen Masala and Aubergine Masala. The former is a sauteed fish dish which is underwhelming compared to what we’ve tasted so far, while the diced aubergine sauteed in ground spices and herbs was bursting with creamy flavours.

Desserts were definitely out of the question this time around. We’ve learned to leave some room for sweets when we have another bitch and curry session here in the future.

Like I said earlier, this wasn’t an expensive meal at all. Starters are no more than RM10, tandoori and curry dishes ranges from RM15 to RM30 depending on your choice of meat; while the choices of Naan average about RM3.50 each.

And by the way, Happy Valentine’s day everyone. May your days ahead be filled with love and everything sweet.

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Malabar Palace
G-13A, Ground Floor,
Hartamas Shopping Centre,
60 Jalan Sri Hartamas 1,
50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel: +6012-264 5045.
Business Hours: Mall operating hours.


Note: It is best to reserve a table for dinner as there is limited seating available.

9 Responses to Malabar Palace, Hartamas Shopping Centre: A Hot & Spicy Friendship
  1. Sean
    February 14, 2011 | 12:39 am

    I've become spice-intolerant too in recent years (it's either old age taking its toll on my digestive system or karma biting me back for all the nasi kandar I used to wallop back in uni)! So I guess the meen and aubergine masalas are no-nos for folks like me, right? =)

  2. Baby Sumo
    February 14, 2011 | 3:00 am

    We ate here last month and I enjoyed the food here very much. Loved how everything was presented so prettily on the plate too.

  3. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)
    February 14, 2011 | 5:09 am

    The food looks tasty! I wanna try the Vegetarian Tandoori Grill. Yum

  4. vewe
    February 14, 2011 | 5:10 am

    Now I miss Indian food, thanks to your post Monki ;P

    Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours as well! :)

  5. gfad
    February 14, 2011 | 6:57 am

    It will be so salah if we don't meet up for Indian food. Malabar, Vishal, Kanna, Sangeetha.. anywhere, baybeh!

    Wish you and McCutie a very, very Happy Valentine's Day!

    p/s: When you mentioned the arrival of Meen Masala, I thot Meens came and joined you. Was wondering who Aubergine was.. ^_^

  6. Sarah Wu
    February 14, 2011 | 7:54 am

    Happy vday and that Vegetarian Tandoori Grill looks delicious.

  7. qwazymonkey
    February 15, 2011 | 6:41 pm

    Sean: Oh no, that sucks. I hope i never get that way. I love spicy food. But yea, these days I can't take too spicy before feeling the heat coming out my ass

    Baby Sumo: I love how immaculate it looks too

    Leslie: I'm sure you'll enjoy the vegetarian dishes here. They have more than a few to keep you happy

    Vewe: Go right ahead and have some now. Perfect for cold wet nights

    GFAD:Let's do the whole string of Indian food when ya back. Hope you had a good V-day

    Sarah: Happy V-day to ya too. I can see you've had a good time :)

  8. Corinne @ Degustinations
    February 22, 2011 | 1:42 am

    What a sweet, cheesy, romantic tribute to food on Vday – loved it!!

    I'm a week late but I hope you had a fabulous day Mr Qwazy! :)

  9. Life for Beginners
    March 3, 2011 | 11:39 am

    Curry best friends. I like that concept. I first dated my best friend the Diva at Sri Paandi and your BFF at Devi's Corner, and of course you have your Lis and your fish curry… I notice the trend with wonderful women and yummy curries… ;)