Not many visitors to Kuala Lumpur are lucky enough to score an invitation to a home-cooked meal. But the beauty of a food culture like Malaysia's, which celebrates street and hawker food, is that mom-cooked dishes are as likely to be found on the street as they are in the kitchen.
In Brickfields, this mom-and-pop serve soulful renditions of southern Indian specialties from their small corner stall. They start early, preparing everything from scratch in a makeshift 'kitchen' at the back of the little shed. Strolling by post-roti early one morning last week, we spotted mom frying and dad furiously chopping in a haze of heavenly-scented, karhai-generated fumes. There was never a doubt that we'd return ASAP to taste the fruits of their labors.
Here, rice is served on a banana leaf-textured plate rather than an actual banana leaf ('Cleaner,' says mom, and who's going to argue with the cook?). As at any banana leaf stall there are a variety of curries and gravies on offer, as well as fried fish. We opted for (clockwise from bottom right) 'wet' chicken curry, tofu curry, 'dry' chicken curry, mutton curry, a chopped, salted cucumber/tomato/onion relish, fish gravy, and dhal with (in the center) turmeric-braised cabbage on the side.
Mom's wonderful curries evince subtle, but distinct, differences: the mutton curry is full-on fragrant with warm spices like cloves and cardamom, cinammon and dried chilies do delicious battle in the wet chicken curry, the smoky-charred dry chicken curry (below) is classically flavored with curry leaves and cayenne, and the tofu - in contrast to the meat curries - is lightened by slightly sour tomatoes and sweetened with caramelized onions.
The fish gravy is thin, sour, and completely addictive. Mom's sharp lime pickle (below) refreshes and surprises the palate with its pleasantly astringent tartness and the pop of plenty of black mustard seeds.
The couple, who've been feeding Brickfields here for over eighteen years, see steady business throughout the day - which is not at all surprising, considering that their reasonable prices include service with a very hearty smile.
Banana leaf stall, Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad at the corner of Jalan Berhala (opposite Hamsa-Yahini Travel and Tours), Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. 9am-11pm. Closed Sunday.