KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Masjid India is a hive of gastronomic activity I have barely explored. Twice in one week though, I found myself walking through its busy streets to visit Adyar Ananda Bhavan, an import from India. The draw is its delightful Indian vegetarian fare. An added bonus… its sweets.
Opened last December, the restaurant has been under-the-radar for many except for those in the know. I had heard rumbles about its existence through the foodie grapevine: a friend’s friend said this was the real vegetarian deal.
That perked my interest. Wikipedia tells us that this place founded by KS Thirupathi Raja has a rich history that started out as a sweet and snacks shop in Rajapalayam, Bangalore and Chennai.
Later, they changed their name to Adyar Ananda Bhavan after they opened in the Adyar neighbourhood. So far, they have an estimated 140 plus branches throughout India.
In 2000, the enterprising second generation owners — brothers KT Venkatesan and KT Srinivasa Raja — decided to move towards the restaurant business. Some outlets, like this one in KL, combines the two concepts: sweets, snacks and vegetarian dining, maximising the utilisation of the space.
The menu covers an assortment of Northern, Southern Indian eats and even Chinese food. Look out for daily specials on a whiteboard placed outside the restaurant.
For breakfast, there’s the likes of vada, idly, ghee pongal and rava kichadi. During lunch, order their thali meals — a mini feast on its own with an assortment of sambars and chutneys served with rice.
Teatime is all about chaats or snacks like pani puri and bhel poori. From 4pm to 8pm, you can snack on a variety of appam or sweet-tasting kozhukatta.
Order the majestic-looking ghee roast. Tear a bit of the soft, crispy edges and you’ll smell the fragrant ghee with its slight nutty aroma. It’s good on its own with its crisp outer layer and slightly tangy taste; we order seconds.
If you prefer, there’s more substantial bites in the form of their ghee masala dosa or onion rava masala dosa. This is thanks to a creamy masala potato filling within the dosa.
In Indian cooking, the cauliflower is the hero. You find it in aloo gobi, mixed with potatoes but the best way to enjoy this vegetable, is cooked Chinese style as a gobi Manchurian. The fried cauliflower florets are coated with an addictive sauce with sweet and slightly spicy flavours. Here, it’s served dry or with gravy. We tried both versions and they’re equally good.
Once you’re done with the meal, a perfect pick-me-up with be their Masala tea — fragrant, milky tea served piping hot. If you’re feeling indulgent, look towards the sweets counter. With the huge varieties, you’ll be spoiled for choice. We sample their gulab jamun and dhal poli, the pancakes filled with dhal for a not overly sweet end to our meal here.
Service can be patchy especially during peak lunch/dinner times. But will we be back? I reckon so.
Adyar Ananda Bhavan (A2B)
141, Ground Floor, Jalan Bunus, Off Jalan Masjid India, Kuala Lumpur
Open daily: 9am to 11pm