Cheered by Chapattis

It was one of those days when the hormones dip a tad. Balmy afternoons. Such is the single life of a self-indulgent poet, empty Saturday afternoons dreaming of the evening Muse (aka midnight date with my Comp!)

These feelings come and go. It ebbs like tide and scurries like tiny translucent crabs when the tide comes in and hurries out when it’s gone. Ah the blues…

It was nothing that a buddy from a neighbouring boys school and an option for dinner can’t fix. Especially when it’s curry!

We took a drive to Little India, park haphazardly in front of an office block shut for the weekend.  We round the corner of the Indian butcher shop, watch him hose down the pavement for the night.

Pass a couple of sleepy cats and walk leisurely about 70 yards down the cleanest, brightest alley in Penang ever.  We breeze into the shortest ramshakle turn-of-the-century shophouse.
Brightest Alley Ever. Photo by Doris Lim
Scaredy Alley Cat. Photo by Doris Lim

It has a slight lopsided façade; looks like a crooked grin really.

The green wooden beam supporting the ceiling has sag a good inch or two. Waiters/cooks are garb in black collar tee shirts and trousers.
Where the white dhoti clad Peri'yappa?
A steel post is install to prop up that sagging beam. Photo by Doris Lim

“Perception, perception…,” my buddy tut-tuts; “this, my dear is the home of The BEST chapati, dewy soft and cottony warm and serve with a heady mutton curry to die for!” buddy enthuses. Ooh!

Buddy orders two chapattis, this girl said three and one set balloon puffed Puri with potato masala. Buddy orders one serve mutton, this girl said one serve dhall curry. Wash all that down with a steaming beer mug size teh tarik.
Warm Chapattis with trademark blisters. Photo by Doris Lim
Lovely Puri with Potato Masala Filling. Photo by Doris Lim
Buddy's To-Die-For Mutton Curry. Photo by Doris Lim
Creamy Dhall Curry. Photo by Doris Lim
Totally Fragrant Frothy Teh Tarik. Photo by Doris Lim

The verdict: Stuff to the gills come to mind but nah, it’s manageable.

A short brisk walk back to the car with a stop here and there to check out the rest of food that’s available.

This girl peers into half close vats of rice and curries with myriad of sauces and sighs.

Buddy takes a look and consoles this girl. We’ll throng the street next week and eat our way through.

An old Peri'yappa appears out of nowhere and beckons, “Tomorrow, you come again, yes, yes?”

This girl grins broadly and nods to Buddy. She's cheer up no end.

Chapatti is an unleavened flatbread (also known as roti) from the Indian subcontinent, a common staple of cuisine in South Asia, it is eaten with curries.

Puri is prepared by rolling out the dough out in a small circle and deep fried in ghee or vegetable oil. While frying, it puffs up like a round balloon when the moisture in the dough changes into steam which expands in all directions.

Potato Masala is a popular south Indian vegetarian spicy dish, quick and easy to prepare and makes a tasty side dish to accompany a curry, or as a filling to thosai or Puri.

Teh tarik (or pulled tea) is comprises of black tea, sugar, and condensed milk mix to frothy perfection.

Peri'yappa in Tamil means Parent's elder brother, a common salutation to Indian elders.

Doris Lim is a popular freelance writer who blogs as Little Fish on travel and food stories here. Be sure to check out her other inspiring stories and follow her Instagram @SmartDoryID & Facebook to check out more places to eat delicious street foods or dine in the best restaurants!


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