Countryside Cuisine

Khottu Paratta, diced paratta with a side of sambar and raita
Since opening its doors in September 2007, Village Briyani Café has been keeping a loyal clientele satisfied with its unique range of beautiful briyani and menu of authentic North Indian food.  Five years on, Pn Shafina Abdul Hamid decided to expand the menu and introduce the joys of eating South Indian specialties in a Tiffin menu. 

To please a discerning clientele who knows how to differentiate between North and South Indian cuisine, she set up Village Countryside Cuisine, just a stone’s throw away from Village Briyani Café. 

Chefs from India serve a delectable range of Tiffin meals like [Left to Right] Khottu Paratta, Keerai Vadai,
Kulipaniyaaram, Aapam, traditional Idli, curry leaf Idli and Poori sets at Village Countryside Cuisine

The word, “Tiffin” has its origins in British India where the Indians have a tradition of taking an afternoon snack, a meal similar to English afternoon tea.  In South India, the word is used for between-meal snacks of breads like dosai and idli and often refers to packed lunches that are delivered to working men or school children.  These packed tiffin lunches were traditionally sent by tiffin-wallahs who are skilled in delivering thousands of tiffin meals daily.

Taste six different flavours in a Malayalee
vegetarian thali meal
“The Tiffin meal is usually enjoyed between 5pm to 7pm,” said Shafina as a guideline for the typically Indian tradition of savouring an afternoon snack.  The Tiffin menu with popular meals like Khottu Paratta, Keerai Vadai, Kulipaniyaaram, Aapam, traditional rice Idli, curry leaf Idli and Poori are served in sets with a side of gravy and condiments.  “These are also available for lunch and dinner or you can order a mixed meal that comes with rice and breads,” she said reassuringly, as there is no time limit for serving Tiffin.

While most diners may be familiar with tiffin favourites like paratta, vadai and idli, this is where you should discover something different in Kulipaniyaaram, Aapam and the Village’s version of Khottu Paratta.  Try Aapam, a light rice pancake with a doughy centre served with a side of fresh milk that has a light ginger flavour and sambar, a vegetable stew.  The word, Kulipaniyaaram may be a mouthful but just order, Kuli in short, and you can sink your teeth into cute little tasty treats that can be described as a cross between a dosai and idli – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – served with sambar and two varieties of chutney.

Firey hot Crab Rasam, pepper soup
If paratta is your favourite Indian bread, why not try Khottu Paratta, diced and flavoured paratta mixed with egg, chillies and masala spices?  After placing your order, do not be alarmed when you hear knocking sounds coming from the kitchen because the chefs take the task of dicing your paratta, very seriously.   A spicy serving comes in a generous portion with a side of sambar and a soothing raita yogurt dip.

But if you must have rice, Countryside Cuisine has a menu of Rice of the Day like Thenga Pal Rice (coconut milk rice) that can be eaten with vegetarian and non-vegetarian ala carte items and specials like Village Fish Head Curry, Kharu Vahdu, salted fish curry and a variety of Rasam or South Indian soup. 

Signature Village mutton briyani rice set
They also serve a delicious vegetarian Malayalee meal on a thali, a stainless steel tray topped with 8 little stainless steel bowls for you to savour 6 different flavours – bitter, sweet, sour, bitter-sweet, spicy and salty – in one meal.  Fans of Village briyani rice will be happy to know that they can also enjoy their choice of favourite briyani here.

Complete your meal with traditional Indian desserts like Chow Chow Halwa made from grated Siamese gourd or Pineapple Kesari, a semolina dessert with pineapple flavour.  Wash it down with your pick of a hot drink like Masala Tea or Indian coffee made with fresh milk.  The milky coffee is served in a traditional metal tumbler set within a dabarah or tiny metal pot so you can enjoy the whole experience of pouring the drink into the dabarah and back into the tumbler in huge arcs to cool it and create a head of froth in the teh tarik tradition!

End sweetly with a choice of typically South Indian desserts like
Chow Chow Halwa made from Siamese gourd [Left] and Pineapple Kaseri
This is the way to cool your South Indian coffee...
Village Countryside Cuisine is a Halal restaurant located at No.25, Susur 1/1 Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, close to Danga City Mall.  Open daily from 11.00am to 3.00pm and from 5.00pm to 10.00pm.  For reservations and catering, Tel: 607 – 222 1370.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 10 October 2012

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