DNS Kacang Puteh, Buntong Ipoh – Delightful Malaysian Indian Snacks

Before popcorn made its way to the masses in Malaysia, our parents and grandparents would have gone to the movie theater with a small white paper cone in hand. Inside, you’ll find an assortment of fried chickpeas, nuts, crisps and crunchy flour snacks flavoured with curry powder or other spices. This, ladies and gents, was kacang puteh. 

Although we don’t have it at the movies anymore, kacang puteh has solidified its status as a perennial Malaysian favourite. Just like how Malaysians are made up of different races and religions, it’s difficult to pinpoint one particular ‘type’ of kacang puteh, because they come in all shapes, flavours, colours and sizes.

Kampong Kacang Puteh in Ipoh is supposedly where it all began.

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Dating back at least four generations, the businesses were founded by Indian families who came to then British-ruled Malaya in the late 19th century. To supplement their income, they ran small shops selling snacks. Many of these items originate from southern India, such as Murukku, Pakkoda and Omapodi, but the shops today offer a wide assortment of locally-inspired flavours as well, such as tapioca chips and ice gem biscuits.

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Every time we come back to Ipoh, we buy a buttload to bring home and/or give away to friends and colleagues. There are several shops in town, but we often go to this one called D.N.S. Food. 

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Signs in multiple languages. The stuff is halal too so Muslim customers can enjoy them.

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In Malay we call it ‘rambang mata’ ie ‘cross eyed’ because there are just too many types to choose from! My favourites are the fish murukku and the wheel-shaped snack that has no name lol but every Malaysian kid growing up in the 90s knows of.

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If you’re buying in bulk, get these giant sacks of kacang puteh and eat to your heart’s content.

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A small corner selling Indian sweets. I like them in small amounts because their desserts are just wayyyyy too sweet.

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Very reasonable prices.

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Nicely packed and sealed.

They’re not too expensive; you can get a big packet for a reasonable price. The next time you’re in Ipoh, be sure to stop by this area for your kacang puteh fix!

DNS Kacang Putih 

No.46 Laluan Sungai Pari 4 Kampong Kacang Putih 30100 Ipoh Perak

Phone: 013-464 7483

Of Birds and Indian Food

So it was just another morning getting ready for work when….

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I saw this fat bird sitting on my windshield! At first I thought it had its leg stuck because it didnt move even when I took my phone out and leaned close to it for a picture. I tried lifting my wiper, but then noticed that it wasn’t stuck. Maybe it was injured, so I tried to touch it, but it flapped its wings at me and then flew off….

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And settled at my mom’s car.

Looking at how fat it is, perhaps it’s pregnant and looking for a place to lay its eggs?

By the way I am looking up the lottery number I should buy for ‘pregnant bird’. lol.

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Lunch with colleagues at the Indian restaurant. Ever had banana leaf rice? It’s a variety of smaller meat/veggie dishes in curries/spicy sauces, served on a banana leaf with rice.

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Tried Mushroom Rawa Thosai for the first time. It’s thosai stuffed with mushroom masala.

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Taste was pretty good, albeit a little spicy.

Random post. Kbai!

Restoran Habib, Canning Garden Ipoh

It’s been a long time since I ate good roti canai. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s a type of Indian flatbread found in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. Some places call it roti paratha, and it’s usually served with dipping curries and dhaal (lentils).

While it’s commonly available everywhere in KL, the ones near my workplace/home are mediocre at best – usually done in bulk and then reheated. During Chinese New Year back in Ipoh, most of the Chinese restaurants were closed, so the fam and I went to an Indian-Muslim shop in Canning Garden for breakfast.

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We were immediately enticed by the sights and smells of two workers diligently preparing the bread; flattening out the dough, expertly folding up the sides and then plonking them onto a red hot skillet. He then ‘squashed’ the piping hot pastry between his hands so it took on a scrunched up appearance. Some might be appalled by the seemingly lack of hygiene, but that’s just how things work here and I haven’t died yet from years of eating roti canai. 😀

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Crispy and fluffy on the outside, the bread had just a slight hint of sweetness. The dhaal and curry were both excellent. Amazing how something as simple as dough can be so tasty!

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Many customers ordered second and third helpings. Cooks were extremely busy!

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Customers waiting for take-away.

RESTORAN HABIB 

54, Jalan Lee Kwee Foh, Canning Garden, 31400 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Kohinoor North Indian Restaurant, The Waterfront Kota Kinabalu

Anjung Samudra @ The Waterfront Kota Kinabalu is home to a row of chic cafes and restaurants, where guests can chill while watching beautiful views of the South China Sea: boats docking in the evening and the shadow of Pulau Gaya beyond. The place is especially lively at night among tourists, expats and the local yuppies. It’s also where you’ll find Kohinoor, one of only a few restaurants in town that serve North Indian cuisine.

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Dimly lit interior gives the feeling of intimacy.

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For appetisers, we had Pakora – assorted fried vegetable fritters of onion slices, cauliflower and peppers. Vegetables usually absorb oil during the cooking process, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that these didn’t leave a greasy aftertaste. They were nice, crispy and addictive! The minty sauce accompaniment was also refreshing and further helped to reduce the greasiness. I could eat these all day.

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Butter chicken – spicy, creamy and filled with tender chunks of chicken. I could really taste the fragrant, buttery flavours in this!

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Clockwise from top left: Palak Paneer, a gravy made from pureed spinach (hence the green colour), tomato and seasoned with garlic, garam masala and a variety of other spices, Naan basket, Butter Chicken and a curry with mutton meatballs in it. Indian cuisine is heavy handed on the spices, so for those who are not used to it (like me!), all the different herbs, ingredients and spices can get quite confusing on the tongue after awhile lol.

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With so much sauce/curries/broth, one must have rice or naan (flatbread) to go with them. The version here is fluffy and light with a slightly chewy texture, browned at the edges from the baking process. You can also opt to have garlic or cheese added to the bread, but honestly? They’re good enough on their own.

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Biryani Rice

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Washed down our food with some cool and refreshingly sweet Mango Lassi. 

Overall, the meal was satisfying and portions were more than enough for the four of us. Service is also fast and friendly. Can be a bit on the pricey side, but hey, you get your money’s worth.

KOHINOOR NORTH INDIAN RESTAURANT 

Lot No 4, Anjung Samudra Waterfront, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephen,
Pusat Bandar Kota Kinabalu, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

Liv in KL – Batu Caves Temple, Kuala Lumpur

Back when I was in uni, I used to go on this social networking site called Stickam, which is kind of like Omegle minus the perverts and with more awesome people. While the online world has its fair share of trolls, I have never since found another site that has forged so many meaningful and lasting friendships with people from all over the world. Some of the Stickam community that I used to be close to have gotten out of touch, but I still chat with many of them. Recently, one of them visited me while she was in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, and we had a really awesome time.

Meet Livinda, my friend from Bandung, Indonesia whom I have been chatting with for over two years.

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There’s always a worry that you might not be able to click with someone coz they act differently online and irl, but we got along just fine. I picked her up from her hotel in Bukit Bintang and we went to Batu Caves in Sentul. It’s not my first time here – I have been coming here over the years for both prayers and later on, as a tourist. If you’re wondering why prayers, my family used to pray to the patron deity here, Lord Murugan, when I was a kid. We really stood out from the crowd, being Chinese and all (Chinese in Malaysia are usually Christian, Taoist or Buddhist) from the sea of Indian-Hindu devotees.

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The traffic jam was terrible so we got here later than expected and it was already afternoon. Liv said it was really hot because apparently Bandung is a mountainous region and has temperatures hovering around a cool 25 degrees. How lucky! She also commented that KL looks more similar to Jakarta rather than Bandung. I must pay a visit soon.

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Batu Caves is a beautiful cluster of limestone hills housing old Hindu temples dating back to the late 1800s. It is primarily dedicated to Lord Murugan, The Hindu God of War, also known by the names Kartikeya, Skanda and Subryamaniam. The Temple Cave houses the original deity statue, which can be reached by a steep 272 steps climb. As the place developed into a prominent tourist attractions, various other shrines have been added at the foot of the caves, along with a lake and small park area, as well as traders selling trinkets, souvenirs and food mushrooming all along the boulevard.

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Beautiful gold painted detail on the roof of one of the shrines.

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A shrine for Hanuman, the Monkey God. Some old Hindu texts have claimed that Hanuman is a vanara, or ‘forest man’. He appears in many epics such asRamayana and the Mahabharata.

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The temple committee has also opened a new section that wasn’t there on my previous visit. We paid a RM2 entry fee to visit the Ramayana caves. A statue of a deity with horses pulling the chariot greets visitors.

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The cave itself is impressive. It has statues depicting scenes from the famous Hindu epic, Ramayana. It would be great if they had accompanying placards to tell the story though.. but I think they haven’t installed them yet because the section is quite new.

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The limestone caves here date back to 400mil years ago and are very beautiful when illuminated by various coloured lights.

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Shops selling everything from clothing to fresh coconuts, crowded with tourists and flocks of pigeons.

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Climbing up the stairs had me wheezing like a burst balloon… but we finally made it! To the first time visitor, be careful with your belongings while making your ascent/descent because there are resident monkeys who won’t think twice about grabbing stuff from you. Also, visitors wearing shorts should cover up with a rented cloth before proceeding to the temple at the top.

Stories have it that the founder of the temples, an Indian trader called K.Thamboosamy Pillai, found the entrance to the caves shaped like a ‘vel’, or spear, which is also what Lord Murugan uses – hence the site of the temple.

To culture geeks, visit during the Thaipusam festival if you’re not afraid of really, really large crowds. Thaipusam is a religious Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Murugan, and it is celebrated with much pomp in Malaysia at Batu Caves, with visitors even travelling from India to experience it. During the event, devotees take part in an eight hour procession from another temple, carrying milk pitchers and colourful kavadis (carriers). The kavadi bearers often pierce themselves with hooks in various parts of the body as a show of devotion and faith, while priests attend to them. The story goes that there is no blood, but I can’t say for sure because I have never been there during the festival.

 

I think Batu Caves is a beautiful place that is rich in culture, religion, spirituality and natural beauty. So if you’re ever in KL, do pay a visit! You’ll take back lots of knowledge and memories