Indian thali , Little India, Penang, illustrated by Dan Convey

The best Penang Indian restaurants and dishes

The best Penang Indian restaurants in Little India and what to order at each

Penang island on the east of Malaysia is renowned for its tasty food. With its multicultural population of Chinese, Malays and Indians, you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to Asian food. Little India in George Town, the main city of Penang, is one of the top spots for giving your taste buds a treat. With so many dishes and restaurants to choose from, here is a round up of the the best Penang Indian restaurants and dishes.

Thali set meal at Woodlands

Woodlands. (7.50RM £1.38 GBP). For its vegetarian options, friendly and efficient service.

One of the best Penang Indian restaurants, the thalis here are huge and come with at least seven different small pots of curries, gravies and curried vegetables. The pots surround a large mound of rice, of which you can order plain or biryani, and crunchy popadoms studded with cumin seeds. Popular with locals, the thali dishes here have a good kick to them, and also come with a milky coconut sauce and a cardamom-infused Indian sweet.

Here the thali is served on a banana leaf for decoration, but traditional banana leaf meals such as those served at Sri Ananda Bahwan, Penang St (8 RM, £1.47 GBP) are served just on the leaf. This is a South Indian tradition for reducing the need to wash dishes, and also because the leaves are easier to clean themselves.

Indian cuisine - Indian Thali, Penang Indian restaurants, illustration by Dan Convey
Indian Thali illustration by Dan Convey

Butter Chicken Masala at Karaikudi

Karaikudi restaurant, Lebuh Pasar. (12RM £2.21 GBP). This is comfortable Penang Indian restaurant has soft lighting, wooden furniture and traditional Indian pictures on the walls. We found the quality of food to be of a high standard.

A favourite dish among Indian cuisine fans the butter chicken masala here is made with chicken and a creamy ‘gravy’, made of chilli powder, butter, cream, cumin and other spices. This a decadent dish to enjoy once in a while, due to its use of butter and cream!

Indian cuisine - Indian Butter Chicken, Penang Indian restaurants, illustration by Dan Convey
Indian Butter Chicken dish illustration by Dan Convey

Rice Biryani at Bite N Eat

Bite N Eat Dindigul Biriyani, Lebuh Penang. (12.50RM, £2.30 GBP). Specialising in Biryani, the staff are accommodating and the dishes are delicious, and very filling.

Another of the best Penang Indian restaurants, the biryanis here are metal pots of spicy rice filled with pieces of chicken (vegetarian can also be ordered). Spices used include cinnamon, cardamon pods and turmeric. These biryanis are topped off with sprigs of coriander and a boiled egg in the centre.

Indian-biryiani dish, Penang Indian restaurants, illustrated by Dan Convey
Indian-biryiani dish illustrated by Dan Convey

Chicken Tandoori set at Kapitan

Kapitan restaurant, Lebuh Chulia. (9 RM, £1.65 GBP)  Service can be off and on here, but the tandoori set menu here is great value and good quality.

If you’re looking for a big chunk of tasty chicken, then the chicken tandoori is a good choice. Marinated in yogurt with paprika, garlic, lemon juice and cayenne pepper, the chicken tandoor here has that classic brick-red colour and rich taste. It’s garnished with ringed onions, lemon pieces and complimented with chapati, rice and/or naan breads.

Indian cuisine - Indian Chicken tandoori dish, Penang Indian restaurants, illustration by Dan Convey
Indian Chicken tandoori dish illustration by Dan Convey