Ravi’s Banana Leaf
E-33A-01, Dataran 3 Two,
2, Jalan 19/1,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Tel: (03) 7957 1441
Business hours: 7.00am-10.00pm daily,
except during Deepavali and Thaipusam.
At Ravi’s Banana Leaf restaurant, you can have northern Indian delights with your typical southern Indian banana leaf rice meal.
FEW Malaysians can resist a hearty meal of banana leaf rice, and yours truly is no exception.
Nothing gets my stomach juices flowing faster than the sight of a banana leaf laden with fluffy white rice served with assorted vegetables, pickles and fried papadum. Add a dish or two of spicy curries and a portion of delicious fried chicken or fish, and you have a meal fit for a king.
The only thing I’m not so keen on is having to fend off overly-eager waiters who insist on pushing a whole tray of curries into your face and choosing the pricier fish to fry before you can make up your mind. Such aggressiveness is really unnecessary, and it detracts from the overall dining experience.
Luckily, the cordial service team at Ravi’s Banana Leaf restaurant in Selangor is more laidback, always leaving us to enjoy our drinks in peace once they have taken our orders.
Tucked away in the centre of a sprawling commercial square in Petaling Jaya, this spacious, brightly-lit, no-frills eatery is so clean that you can almost eat off its stain-free tiled floor. The glassed-up, stainless steel kitchen and deep-frying sections are equally spotless.
Every day, Ravi’s offers three types of vegetables to complement its signature banana leaf rice (RM5.50 per person for a serving of rice with two types of vegetable, condiments and curry gravy). When we drop in, the outlet is offering Stir-fried Spinach, Cucumber Pickles, and Drumstick Curry, with pavakkai (deep-fried bittergourd chips), mango pickles and papadam as accompaniments.
A complimentary cup of tangy Rasam with a well-rounded finish primed our palate for the hearty meal ahead.
The Fried Spiced Chicken Drumstick (RM5) we order is pressure-fried to perfection. It’s delectably crisp on the outside, with the juicy meat inside fully imbued with spice. If you would rather not bother with chicken bones, then the famed Chicken 65 – bite-size cubes of spiced boneless breast meat – would be a better option. Again expertly fried to an enticingly bronze hue and redolent with the aroma of curry leaves, the chicken pieces are just scrumptious.
The fish is no slouch either. Coated lightly in a distinct spice marinade, the Fried Ikan Bulus (silver whiting, RM6 per 100g) reels us in with its sweet and firm flesh, as does the subtly spiced Fried Squid Rings with Sliced Onion and Curry Leaves (RM8 per 100g).
Ravi’s is possibly one of the few southern Indian restaurants where you can find a selection of north Indian dishes like Claypot Prawn Masala (RM18). Served bubbling hot in a little claypot, this dish has a piquant aroma that will have you drooling. The springy crustaceans and the rich, thick and spicy gravy that clings to them are something to relish!
Hats off to Ravi’s chefs for conjuring up the exotic blend of cardamoms, cloves and other spices in this sublime dish. Variations of this offering with crab or beancurd are also available.
Another typical northern Indian staple served here is Aloo Paratha (RM3.30), unleavened chapati bread stuffed with spiced potato filling. Friends who have sampled this readily agree that Ravi’s version is as good as those you find in any northern Indian homes.
The outlet’s Appam (fermented rice flour pancake; RM1 each for plain, RM1.20 for brown sugar appam) will bowl you over with its crisp, wafer-thin outer edge and nice spongy centre. Freshly-made and sprinkled with white or brown sugar, it tastes superb whether taken on its own or with sweetish coconut milk dip. For a richer flavour, you can ask the chef to add an egg into the pancake.
Alternatively, you can enjoy it with curry, Sri Lankan-style.
The other snacks to look out for are the currypuffs (80 sen each) and kuih ketayap (80 sen each). We are floored by the generous filling of spicy potato and chicken in the former. The proprietress personally churns out a batch every day. As for the ketayap, it is naturally coloured and scented with pandan leaf juice, with each pancake then stuffed with grated coconut and melted palm sugar, then shaped into a roll. Heavenly.
We can’t wait to return to Ravi’s for the Briyani Chicken (RM10) and Briyani Vegetable (RM6) served for lunch every Friday.