South Indian breakfast at The Spice Kitchen

If you have a hankering for a South Indian breakfast – freshly made servings of dosa, idly, poori, parota and vada – then head to The Spice Kitchen at Bukit Indah.

Facade of The Spice Kitchen at Bukit Indah
On a recent holiday weekend when my family was together again, we did just that. Instead of the usual breakfast places, we chose to go Indian, South Indian to be precise, and had a most satisfying dining experience.

Renowned for its menu of Indian-Chinese, North Indian and Thai cuisine for lunch and dinner, The Spice Kitchen now serves South Indian specialties for breakfast from as early as 8am.

It made sense to wake up early for breakfast if we were going to enjoy it at leisure.

A smooth drive on the Iskandar Expressway took us from Johor Baru to Beautiful Hill or Bukit Indah, where The Spice Kitchen is located. I like the choice of ample parking spaces, especially early in the day and we parked right in front of the restaurant.

[Clockwise from the top] Poori Masala, Chilli Idly,
Curd Vada and Onion Vada
We, the early birds, also got the best attention from the waiters who presented us with menus that listed a wide range of South Indian specialties and hot beverages.

Curious about some of the unfamiliar items, we asked and the wait staff patiently explained what they were so that we could then decide on what to order. While dosa, idly, poori, parota and vada may be among the familiar South Indian favourites, items like uttappam and kothu were new to us.

Spoiled for choice and greedy to taste as many items as possible from the menu, we finally decided to order our favourites and share.

My all-time breakfast favourite is onion vada and each serving comprises three pieces of vada – the donut-like bread – with a side of coconut chutney and tomato chutney. For a taste of curd or yogurt, a staple in my usual breakfast, we also picked Curd Vada which turned out to be two vada swimming in yogurt.

A serving of Palak Masala Dosa
Two familiar breakfast choices were Rava Dosa and Poori Masala.

The former, made with a form of semolina sprinkled with fried onions and peppercorns, was folded into a rectangle pancake with crispy edges and served with a side of coconut chutney and tomato chutney.

The latter, we simply called ‘flying saucers’ was two poori with a side of masala or potato cubes cooked with green chilli, onion and spices.

It’s interesting how the innovative chefs at Spice Kitchen have created breakfast items in unique Indian-Chinese recipes. When introduced to Chilli Idly and Mushroom Manchurian dosa, we did not hesitate to try the recommended items.

As its name describes, the Chilli Idly was made with slices of idly stir-fried in a tasty sauce. While it looked deceptively spicy, it was lightly sweet and spicy, the perfect foil for the soft idly, a South Indian bread made from fermented rice flour and black gram.

The dosa was served in a triangle shape with slices of Mushroom Manchurian folded into its centre. This came with a side of coconut chutney and tomato chutney.

Chicken Kothu with a side of sambhar
In trying something different, we discovered Kari Dosa, a dosa stuffed with minced mutton dry curry. But I thought the Palak Masala Dosa was quite interesting.

This dosa turned out to be green in colour because its batter was mixed with minced palak or spinach and served with a side of coconut chutney and tomato chutney.

Two of the more unusual breakfast options we tried was Onion Uttappam and Chicken Kothu.

Since we were familiar with appam, we thought Uttappam must be something similar. It turned out to be a crepe-like thick pancake with toppings cooked into the batter. In this instance the toppings were chopped onions and it was served with a side of sambhar.

Sambhar or simply, sambar, is not a dance (samba) but a gravy in South Indian cuisine. This is a lentil-based vegetable stew with a slight tangy taste as it is cooked with spices in a tamarind broth.

[Clockwise] Sweet Dosa, Paper Dosa and Keema Parota
The Chicken Kothu was made with kothu parota which literally means minced parota, stir-fried with minced chicken and spices. While this minced dish was full of ingredients and very flavourful, I also discovered whole peppercorns that tasted rather over-powering when I bit into them.

Another interesting breakfast item was Keema Parota, parota stuffed with keema or minced mutton, served with a side of sambhar. This serving of parota was sliced into four squares.

With a roll of paper dosa and a cone of sweet dosa to round off the meal, there was plenty to share and satisfy our craving for a South Indian breakfast. At the end of our leisurely meal, I was pleased to see the satisfied smiles as we polished off the plates and did justice to all the items we ordered.

The Spice Kitchen is at Wisma S P Setia, Jalan Indah 15, Taman Bukit Indah, 81200 Johor Baru.  Tel: 607 – 237 3311. Serving Indian-Chinese, Indian and Thai cuisine using halal-sourced ingredients. Open daily 8am to 11.30pm. Closed on Monday.

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