Best of two worlds

If you can’t decide between north or south Indian food, have both. PEGGY LOH did, at Ashoka in Johor Baru

Tantalising tandoori chicken
Tantalising tandoori chicken

SETTING the fork and spoon aside and rolling up my sleeves, I rinsed my fingers. This would be the best way to enjoy the meal.

Ouch! My fingers tingled as I tore into piping hot naan, a north Indian flat bread baked in a tandoori oven. Quickly tasting the two varieties — garlic and kulcha naan — I was delighted to find that the bread tasted delicious even on its own! Eating with my fingers made it even more satisfying.

As my family and I dug into a sumptuous spread of north and south Indian specialties at Ashoka Curry House, we agreed that the blend of these two styles of cooking served in one place would be a hit with connoisseurs of authentic Indian food.

Sinking my teeth into a cut of tender Tandoori Chicken, I drank in its fragrance, fresh from the searing heat of the tandoori oven. Seasoned with aromatic spices, the meat was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Spicy Goodies

Crispy papadam also came with our meal. Coupled with the distinct flavours of spices, chilly, saffron, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, ghee and nuts in the North Indian dishes, it was indeed very agreeable.

Ashoka Fish Head Curry [Right], Tandoori Chicken [Left],
a la carte dishes and a variety of Naan breads

Although I’m partial to the thicker gravy of North Indian cuisine, Ashoka’s signature fish head curry is still an all-time favourite. Served with generous portions of lady fingers, tomatoes and eggplant, it goes well with just about everything!

The hot and spicy curry soon had me reaching for tissue to wipe my perspiration and plug my runny nose! A little thairu or curd quickly cooled the heat and a sip of smooth mango lassi was absolutely soothing. If you prefer a warm drink, ask for Ashoka’s hot brew of ginger tea.

More Choices

In Johor Baru, the name Ashoka is synonymous with superb south Indian cuisine. It has been around for almost 20 years, serving customers at its many outlets with a variety of tosai for breakfast and a wide range of delectable dishes for a typical banana leaf lunch including the very popular mutton and chicken varuval.

Diners enjoying their meal at Ashoka

Now Ashoka serves an a la carte dinner menu of North Indian dishes, Thai specialties, grilled fish and satay.

Besides naan, there is chapatti, roti canai (paratha) and puri. If you are strictly a rice person, try the range of Dhum biriyani or biriyani rice.

Take your pick of specialties like Charamanah fried fish, pepper chicken, Mysore mutton sprinkled with lots of cashew nuts, sambal crabs and sambal cuttlefish. There are also vegetarian specialties.


Ashoka is at 17-A, Jalan Dapat, Johor Baru. It opens daily from 7am to 2am. For enquiries and reservations, contact Ragu on Tel: 016-793 8925 and 016-743 6795.

This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Travel Times on 5 November 2007

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