Sweets before the main - it's my perogative as a blogger.
Several weeks ago, after a tasty (and yet-to-be posted) Indian banana leaf lunch in Petaling Jaya (PJ), S suggested that we proceed elsewhere for a capper of 'pasumpal' tea (hot tea with fresh cow's milk). Sri Paandi was our destination.
"Which Sri Paandi?" readers in the know ( most Malaysians) will ask. In Kuala Lumpur there are numerous restaurants serving spicy south Indian Chettinad food named Sri Paandi - the result of franchising and alleged cases of trademark infringement and name stealing. In PJ's Section 11 two Sri Paandis stand side-by-side. Their staff wear identical uniforms, and both joints attempt to undercut the other's businesss by waving customers in.
I've no idea which of these Sri Paandis is the 'true' Sri Paandi. We grabbed window seats inside the shop on the corner - which, by the way, was packed to the gills while its neighbour was rather light on customers. A flyer pasted to the wall above our table advertised kulfi, a new offering, and so we ordered a dish each of mango and pistachio to go with our three glasses of pasumpal tea, sugar on the side.
The wait for our order offered the opportunity to ogle, noses to the air, the overflowing curry pots, crispy thosai, puffy samosas, and other tempting offerings coming and going from kitchen to tables.
And we vowed to return to this Sri Paandi for a proper lunch.
As for dessert, our kulfi scored high on texture (chewy, slightly grainy, slow to melt) but low on flavor - mango barely hinted at its main ingredient and pistachio just tasted 'green'. My kulfi standard is the dense, predominantly (and identifiably) nutty, and heavily cardamom scented versions I've had at countless other Indian restaurants (gold leaf optional). Sri Paandi's version, I'm sorry to say, fell short.
All was forgiven once we tasted the tea. Strong and pleasantly bitter, this cuppa (glassa?) was mellowed with the sort of sinful, full-on creaminess that's characteristic of only the freshest milk. Some drinkers might be put off by the few strings of solidified milk (a result of boiling) that bobbed about the glass; for me they added character to this tasty - and highly caffeinated - drink.
Sri Paandi (on the corner), Jalan 11/4 (off of Jalan Universiti), Petaling Jaya.