*This article was published in the New Straits Times (Life & Times) on 15th September 2010.

I recently discovered the tempting taste of spices at Passions of Kerala. There are currently two outlets in Penang – one in Gelugor, and the other in New World Park.

The menu in the New World Park outlet consists of banana leaf rice served with an assortment of vegetable dishes as well as other popular curries and fried chicken, squid and fish.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

Kerala cuisine emphasises different spices, aromas and colors. Fresh spices of pepper, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, mustard seeds, chilies and curry leaves are just some of the countless of spices used in the food preparation in the kitchen of Passions of Kerala. The dishes are creamy and cooked with a generous amount of grated coconut and santan (coconut milk).

Owner G.V. Nair’s philosophy is that each dish must be prepared well. The tradition of eating on banana leaf is slowly losing its popularity but Gary is adamant to keep this practice alive in his restaurant.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

The refreshing mango and kiwi lassi makes up the drinks. Creamy and flavorful, each of them is priced at RM5 while the other sweet lassi and the sour lassi, cost RM3.50. The crispy papadums made an ideal snack to kick off my meal.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

Crispy and crunchy papadums

 

Another tasty bite was deep-fried bitter gourd coated in spices. It was addictive and had me longing for seconds. The restaurant offered three servings, priced between RM3.50 and RM9. It was amazing how a simple dish could be so scrumptious. Gary said this dish was one of their best-sellers.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

Tasty deep-fried bitter gourd coated in spices


The vegetarian and non-vegetarian banana leaf rice came with a choice of white rice at RM5.50 or tomato rice at RM6.50 — with refillable assortments of four dishes as well as papadum. These added a splash of colors to the banana leaf rice, and I particularly liked the sourish lime acar.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

This is an interesting tip which I picked up recently! To show ones appreciation to a satisfying meal, it is customary to fold the banana leaf towards you. To indicate that the meal was not satisfying, just fold the banana leaf in the opposite direction.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

Vegetarian banana leaf set with steamed plain rice


Gary said the kitchen is run by a Chinese chef. The Crab Masala, priced at RM22, was one of the specialties. The rich and hearty crab cooked in masala gravy was very tasty. All dishes served in the restaurant are laid on a banana leaf to maintain its authenticity.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

Passions Of Kerala also serves fish, squid and prawn. The deep-fried bawal hitam (black pomfret) marinated in turmeric, cumin, curry powder and other ground spices cost RM4 per piece. Its intense spicy flavor made it one of my favorite dishes. If you prefer a tinge of spiciness, you can opt for the sambal fish instead.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

Squids are also beautifully prepared here at Passions of Kerala. One can opt for the fried squid, which are delightfully spiced and deep fried! It is available at RM6, RM12 and RM18. The squid tasted best when eaten right immediately upon serving.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine at New World Park, Penang

If seafood is not enough to whet your appetite, there is a wide selection of poultry dishes too. I sampled chicken masala and the MC Nair fried chicken. Both of the dishes comes in three servings and is priced at RM5, RM10 and RM15. The chicken masala was a reddish curry with chicken pieces cooked in rich spicy masala gravy — the chili added flavor to the dish.

The MC Nair fried chicken was marinated with Indian spices. The meat was juicy, flavorful and less spicy.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

The last dish was the mutton masala, cooked with a pungent gravy consisting of masala spices and creamy santan (coconut milk). Reasonably priced at RM5, RM10 and RM15, this dish with thick gravy was full in flavor and spices.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

If you visit Passions Of Kerala on a Friday, you can savour milk payasam, a rich milk dessert that’s creamy and comes with cashew nut, raisins, sago, gram, smooth vermicelli and star anise aroma. The colour and some of the ingredients of this dessert are comparable to Badam Milk.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

Instead of fresh mango leaves hanging in front of the restaurant, you’ll see a stylish kolam with mango leaves pattern made of tiles decorating the entrance. This is to bless the restaurant and everyone who walks through. In Indian culture, mango leaves signify abundance and ward off evil.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

Heading into its third year, the restaurant at the New World Park appears to be a success. To Gary, it is probably because of both the mango inscription and his diligence in serving the best to his customers.

Passions of Kerala - Banana Leaf Rice Cuisine in New World Park, Penang

The place gets incredibly lively and crowded as it gets later in the night

Passions of Kerala (New World Park Outlet)
102 Lot C3
New World Park
Jalan Burma
10050 Georgetown
Penang

Tel: 04 2272550

Business Hours:

11:30am – 3:30pm
6:00pm – 10:00pm

Open Daily

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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 19th, 2010 at 10:20 pm and is filed under Banana Leaf Rice, Indian Cuisine, Invited Review, Media Preview, New Straits Times (Life & Times), New World Park, Penang. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

16 comments so far

Lee Kok Siang
 1 

so so nia..

CK Lam Reply:

Thanks for sharing your opinion.

September 19th, 2010 at 11:51 pm
 2 

eh. . look slike my friend punya shop~

September 20th, 2010 at 2:36 pm
 3 

their deep fried bitter gourd is the best!! :)

September 20th, 2010 at 3:11 pm
MR JIM
 4 

I was in Penang for the whole month of Feb. 2010. I ate at The Passions of Kerala at New World Park several times during my stay. I must say the food is very very good. I tried the Nair friend chicken several time. The curry is very tasty, I also enjoyed eating on the large banna leaf that they serve the food on. I would eat there again on my next trip to Penang. MR JIM……….USA

September 21st, 2010 at 12:03 am
 5 

suddenly i was craving for banana leaf rice!!! ahh the papadums, and some delicious crab curry..yum!

September 21st, 2010 at 10:24 am
 6 

Been there a few times, nice food, my boys like their crispy fried squids.

September 21st, 2010 at 2:32 pm
 7 

I’ve been to the outlet in gelugor.. I think the price there is slightly cheaper due to the environment..

September 21st, 2010 at 4:23 pm
 8 

Heard that Indian desserts are sweet, how abt the milk payasam that u tried?

CK Lam Reply:

The milk payasam was just right for me…not overly sweet.

September 21st, 2010 at 5:19 pm
stephen
 9 

I like this place as lot.The food is good, the people friendly, the ambience is great and the price is very reasonable.
I would go again. Another great review by our ever young looking CK Lam!!
How you can keep so slim with all the good food that you sample makes me jealous!!

September 22nd, 2010 at 8:57 pm
 10 

Hmm, both my parents came from Kerala so I speak with some authority on Malayalee cuisine. Other than the vegetables, the rest does not look very much like Malayalee cuisine ? Maybe the Chinese chef had made some modifications for local tastes ? However the fried fish looks crispy and inviting !

September 24th, 2010 at 6:35 pm
Jean
 11 

Love their fried bitter gourd, fried squid and the chicken! Love their food! Craving for it now. Hehe.
BTW taufulou, I think your friend should also be my friend. Hehehe :)

October 6th, 2010 at 10:26 pm
Michelle
 12 

I had a rather disappointing experience last night when I went there. The place was obviously short-handed, and the unoccupied tables weren’t cleared. We decided on a particular table, and I flagged a male staff to clean it up. He showed a “wait” sign and disappeared into the kitchen, never to be seen again for the rest of the short time we were there. The other female staff decided that she would only clean the tables that she picked. I even went to ask her if she could clear the table we wanted, thinking that maybe she did not see us. She just replied “how about you sit here?” I explained that the table we picked felt cooler than the table she was cleaning, and she refused to accept it! In the end, we just walked out without ordering.

Major turn-off.

October 18th, 2010 at 8:56 am
Kevin
 13 

There is another shop with the same name selling the same style. That shop is some more in the Gelugor area. The shop is smaller and old fashioned compared to this but the food is much much better. You have to try it.

December 1st, 2010 at 8:00 pm
Jon
 14 

Prefer the one at Service Road …cheaper,less people & more comfortable..but eat everywhere also about the same…must try the Gelugor Passion of Kerala one day

March 9th, 2011 at 6:35 pm
Viv
 15 

Kevin-the shop in Gelugor is called Iniras and it’s run by the same family. They started off there. Expanded to Service Rd., as Passions of Kerala but the evenings at Service Rd. were quiet, therefore they moved to the lot at New World Park. The shop at Service Rd. is now run by a distant family member.

Staff at the New World Park outlet, are polite, friendly and humble. They seem to try really hard to serve everyone as swiftly and effectively as possible.

Food is extremely good-hands down. I find myself wanting to go there for daily meals or take aways. At least once a week.

December 5th, 2011 at 7:13 pm
Bobo
 16 

This place is way overated. They have another outlet at Brown Gardens and I must say my comments are not so encouraging. I have had several bad experiences and have opted to try the many other banana leaf rice restaurants available in Pg instead. Once I found hair as well as plastic bits of wrapper in my food. The fish is seldom fresh. Service is poor as a friend of mine had to wait 10 mins just to have his order taken when the restaurant was barely full. This must be because they rely on i*****l foreign workers as their staff!!!

March 28th, 2014 at 7:43 pm

2 Trackbacks/Pings

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