Cool drinks, hot food

Crab Masala is finger-licking good!
If you think Indian snacks like muruku and papadam go very well with beer, then you will probably know how a peratal and vindaloo can compliment a lager.  Some feel that beer superbly picks up the flavour notes of spicy dishes while most agree that the beer’s carbonation will refresh the palate to better savour food. 

So if you are among food connoisseurs who enjoy the pairing of beer with Indian food, then you will be delighted to discover the delicacies at Indiana Zon.

Facade of Indiana Zon
Amba Narayanan, managing partner of this neighbourhood Indian bistro in Taman Nusa Bestari has teamed up with his sisters to create a few village-style recipes that perfectly pairs with drinks.  What started as an Indian restaurant has evolved into a popular watering-hole for regulars who come in after work hours to enjoy a few games of pool and good company over some drinks and snacks.  Besides favourite local brands, they also serve a range of popular beers like Tiger and Hoegaarden.

“Its kampong-style cooking,” said Amba, modestly describing their simple home-cooked recipes, served from a small ala carte menu.  He said that the spices used in Indian cooking are so varied but any curry can be easily cooled with a few gulps of your choice of chilled beer.  They use freshly ground spices and lots of fresh, fragrant curry leaves here to enhance his recipes.  

Deep-fried quail is a popular finger-food, coated with a spicy batter before being fried into a crisp.  These tasty morsels of meat, with hardly any noticeable heat, are so tender and delicious that you can easily lose count of the number of pieces you are eating!

Deep-fried bites of crispy quail

As their names indicate, the Prawn Sambal and Squid Sambal are cooked in a sambal sauce so you can expect these dishes to be a little spicy.  White rice is recommended to enjoy these spicy dishes but if you prefer fried rice, they have a range to pick from.  Try their Mutton Fried Rice, a fragrant rice dish filled with slices of mutton and lots of egg.

Their mutton and chicken peratal are popular picks but their piece de resistance must be the mouth-watering Crab Masala.  To enjoy this delightful dish, you have to roll up your sleeves and dig in with your fingers because this is the only way to properly extract tender flesh from the crab shells.  When beads of perspiration start to pop up, it’s a sign that you are truly enjoying your meal and don’t be surprised that you cannot resist eating until you finally lick your fingers clean!

Enjoy a few games at the pool table

The food in Indiana Zon is familiar and not fiery hot but has a delicious heat that can easily be countered by chilled, crisp beer.  Or choose to cool your palate with lassi – the Indian yoghurt drink – served in a variety of fruity flavours.  For non-beer drinkers there is also a menu of thirst-quenching hot and cold beverages. 

Indiana Zon Restaurant, at No. 25-G, Jalan Bestari 1 / 2, Taman Nusa Besatri, 81300 Skudai, Johor, is open from 4pm till 1am.  Live music entertainment starts from 9pm.  For enquiries, Tel: 016 – 7056302.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 5 March 2012

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