Here’s something we hear rather often.
“I like Indian food, but I don’t eat it enough.”
If you’re one of those people, who doesn’t automatically think Indian cuisine when you’re eating out, join the club.
But that recently all changed when we chanced to to walk into Passage Thru India several weekends ago, after a bit of hiatus. You see, back in the day (after returning from studies abroad), Passage Thru India used to be THE place, and one of our all time favorite restaurants to patron on the weekends, for great Indian Cuisine.
The great news is that this chance re-visit actually made us discover some exciting facts about the restaurant. They now have a brand new menu and one that changes as well. They also had interesting items on the menu that we could not wait to get started on.
Walking into the restaurant is a bit of an experience in itself. You will notice exotic statues, vibrant fabrics in bright colors, paintings and decorations adorn the walls. We noticed all the deco was spotless and new, a sign that this place is constantly refurbished and improved upon.
The founder & owner himself is a bit of an artist and avid traveller It was during the period of his travels across India looking for material and fabrics that he delved so deeply into food and culture of India, hence Passage Thru India was born, and with it, a smorgasbord of great Indian cuisine from across that continent.
Therefore, from Northern Indian cuisine to the spicy Southern Chettinaad cuisine, you name it, this restaurant serves it.
We settle down to dinner after selecting our drinks and dishes.. live traditional music from two gentlemen seated in the corner, set the mood for our dinner date.. I let the beat of the Tabla, the melody of the Harmonium and classic lyrics (not that I understood them) of bollywood tunes, lull me into a weekend catatonic stupor. It was nice.
delicious papadam with chutneys were served first.. then our drinks arrived.
I was served a rather sweet Mango lassi at first, but after I requested for no sugar to be added, they brought out a perfect one for me. Sour and strong with yogurt flavour – it was terrific. Hubby had the Jal jeera, a salty spicy drink – in Hindi, “jal” means water and “jeera” means cumin. His beverage was essentially lemonade and jaljira powder. Apparently a popular summer drink in India and it worked really well with the rich food we were about to be served.
Well fried, crispy addictive Onion bhaji
Then came the Kashmiri lollipops..
The Kashmiri lollipops were the bomb! Not unlike that of boxing chicken, these were sweet, savory, well seasoned and caramalized sticks of chicken that were as delicious as they were easy to eat! Loved the crunchy outer skin that sealed in the flavours of the meat.
Lamb ribs – marinaded in the Owner’s special sauce for 24 hours, these ribs were fall off the bone tender. You didn’t even need a knife to flay the meat from the bone, you could use a spoon or your fingers – it was that tender. A squeeze of lemon heightened the flavours even further. Super delectable and best eaten with your fingers!
Tandoori platter – always a favourite this platter goes superbly well with naan bread or the biryani rice. Today for some reason, they overcooked the prawns – would have preferred it less well done. The best items here were the meats, the fish and the sausages, which were well marinated and fork tender. The tandoori chicken was succulent and fragrant with the heady aroma of yogurt and spices. Eating this with the mint sauce made the experience complete.
Tawa prawns – massive river prawns that was bursting with aromas of turmeric, garam masala, kashmir red chilli powder, pepper powder. Bouncy and super fragrant, I could imagine eating this as part of a Prawn noodle dish.. would have been superb too! The pickled onions and lime added a lovely tart, sweet and sour element to this rich dish. Very,very good.
Amritsari fried fish – try and picture Crispy batter covers flaky white fish fillets, spiced with Indian flavours of garlic, ginger, cumin and chaat masala and tell me you are not drooling! This mouth watering fried fish prepared with lot of spices is a popular street food of Amritsar and I can just about see why.
And my all time favourite Northern Indian vegetarian dish that needs no intro, is the Palak paneer. Palak paneer consisting of spinach and paneer in a thick sauce made from puréed spinach and seasoned with garlic, garam masala, and other spices is just to die for. At Passage Thru India, the sauce is thick and super fragrant. I like to dump dollops of this onto my naan bread and just eat it with my hands. Totally divine!
As the night lingers on to the music of the harmonium and drums, we dig in to more of the above, enjoyed with glasses of red wine. We order more Daal tadka, that addictive lentil dish cooked with onion, tomato and flavored with generous amount of tempered ghee and spices to go with more biryani rice.
Briyani rice – fragrant and well cooked – a nice al dente with loads of bite
Garlic & Kashmiri naan breads .. the naan was excellent – fluffy and lightly charred.
Of the naan breads, we loved the Kashmiri naan the best – it was stuffed with a paste of grapes, dried chili, papaya and cashew nuts(red center) and was delightful to eat with the palak paneer and dhal.
Murgh tikka butter masala – and who can resist a great butter chicken dish? Not me! Succulent cuts of breast meat swimming in butter masala.. sublime.
Vegetable jalfrezi – a spicy, semi-dry type of veggie dish that’s cooked in a tomato-based gravy – no complaints here.
Masala tea or Masala chai – black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs.. best taken with desserts of course.
Rasmalai, Gulab jamun and Gajjar halwa desserts ended the night on a sweet note.
And after all we ate, the damage was minimal. The main courses only cost us between RM15 to RM22. The grilled meats and tandoori ranged between RM16 to RM60. For the amount we ordered, it truly was value for money.
We literally ate till our sides burst.. and since we were so full, we decided to take a walk around the restaurant..
The Rajasthani section or fondly known as the low seating section – fashioned to mimic the experience of sitting on the floor which is a typical Rajasthani concept – looked nice and cosy for couples or groups of 4.
The recently refurbished Chettinaad section gave us a feeling of being in a village in South India. With multi coloured showpieces adorning the ambiance and a buffet counter to host private parties, the Chettinaad is the centrepiece of the restaurant.
And if you thought that Passage Thru India was not huge enough, it also had a Banquet Hall complete with sound system, and with a separate entrance from Jalan Tun Razak, that has it’s own parking space. It’s a nice area for hosting events and meetings for corporate or private functions.
Definitely still a gem of a place in our books, and now with the latest menu, definitely worth a visit.. or two!
Passage Thru India,
No. 4, Jalan Delima, off Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100,
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Phone : +6 (03) 2145 0366
Email : [email protected]
Web : www.passagethruindia.com
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