A popular South Indian way of serving rice, banana leaf rice is a popular lunch option across Malaysia. The multiple components of rice, curry, assorted vegetables, rasam and side dishes make for a satisfying meal packed with spicy and sour flavours. Whether rushing from an office on a lunch hour or passing through Kuala Lumpur as a traveler, these are spots to check out for a good banana leaf rice lunch.
Sitting in the heart of the trendy Telawi neighbourhood in Bangsar is Devi’s Corner. Reliably open 24 hours a day, 364 days a year (they shut on Diwali), Devi’s has the advantage of an air-conditioned second floor, which should not be scoffed at because KL weather can grate. Enjoy a side serving of spicy tandoori, with the banana leaf rice in the evening, as the day cools.
Banana leaf rice at Raj's Banana Leaf | Courtesy of Raj's Banana Leaf
Round the corner from Devi’s Corner is Raj’s Banana Leaf. While their spicy, tender mutton varuval is a great side, don’t forget to try their fish options as well: threadfin, white pomfret, mackerel. There’s ample seating so there’s no need to worry about rush-hour crowds.
This airy restaurant in Lorong Maarof serving South Indian Chetinad cuisine is notable for its fast service and a crazy lunch hour that starts at 12. Try the vegetarian set that starts at RM$8 with fresh coconut chutney. While the price of the banana leaf rice runs a bit pricey here, it is well worth it.
A long queue is a common feature outside Kuala Lumpur’s first banana leaf rice shop. Sri Nirwaja Maju is not just the first, it is also one of the best. Their mouth-watering chicken perattal, mutton varuval and signature salted dried chili and pickles led to many repeat customers and being shortlisted for Best Banana Leaf and Best Indian by Time Out KL.
Winner of the Time Out KL Food Awards for Best Indian in 2013 and 2014, Fierce Curry House offers both North and South Indian cuisine. Swap out regular rice in the banana leaf rice with dhum-style biryani, which packs even more flavour, thanks to the spices and marinated meat. Instead of mutton or chicken curry as a side, try instead their lobster and scallops.
Serving both North and South Indian cuisine in the city centre area, Betel Leaf has been prominent enough to court notable customers including former Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad. While slightly pricey, anything on the menu will serve as an excellent side to add punch to the basic banana leaf rice. Try the chili crab or the chettinad mini tiffin for a tasting menu of Chettinad cuisine.
Specialising in Chettinad and North Indian cuisine, Vishal offers a warm and communal dining experience with its long rows of tables arranged like a mess-hall. They offer a good variety of vegetarian and vegan options as well as particularly tender chicken varuval. As an added bonus, Vishal is pork-free/certified halal.
Little India, Brickfields is a treasure trove of delicious Indian cuisine. But should you ever get paralysed by which restaurant you should pick, Indian Spices Village is a safe bet. Its extensive menu covers everything from the basic dosai to spicy lamb briyani and gulab jamoon for dessert. Needless to say, their basic banana leaf rice is a satisfying meal. Partner that with one of the many dishes on their menu, like the mutton sukka varuval and you have the perfect lunch.
The star at Aunty Manju’s is undoubtedly the mutton bone marrow curry, made with Australian mutton and bone stock that has been left to simmer for over an hour. As if that’s not enough, Aunty Manju’s also serves five types of vegetables with their banana leaf rice, instead of the standard three. Talk about value for your money!
Bala’s has been wowing the public with their authentic South Indian curry and red bean cheese naan since 2016. They’re not only known for being super affordable – get a basic banana leaf rice from RM$8 – but also for their generous portions. Bala’s is certified halal and excludes all food preservatives and artificial flavouring.