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Best bits of KL: Little India in Klang

Linger over a cup of masala chai and have a few Indian sweets in Klang's Little India after taking in the Indian enclave's sights and sounds

Photo: Ng Su Ann

Little India, of Klang, isn’t a Little India of posters and postcards. Little India, of Klang, is one whose music – an exercise of high-decibel exuberance; a cacophony of Tamil chatter, of Bollywood film scores blaring out of speakers – cannot be defined, nor its meaning determined. A snapshot: marigold garlands brightening up the doorways of banana leaf eateries; a woman sitting cross-legged on a kaki lima, peddling a basket of greens already wilting in the heat of the early afternoon; and men staring impassively from behind the bars of jewellery stores, unperturbed by the glint and glitter of gold necklaces and nath.

The sights, the sounds, the smells; and yet, this is a Little India that allows one to linger over a cup of masala, a Little India where the sweets never lose their shine, a Little India that’s home to the community that lives and makes its living here. Little India is a land of belonging, rather than of blood. One says ‘land’, though Klang’s Little India is little more than a street, situated as it is along Jalan Tengku Kelana in the south of the royal city.

Eat this

Eat this

Sweeten the situation with Indian sweets. There’s more to mithai than the fried fancies one is typically used to – such as jalebi, murukku and vadai. Try the fudge-like barfi, the mind-boggling variety of laddu – there’s the Bombay laddu, boondhi laddu and spice ladoo – or the Kaju apple, which looks like a miniature apple, made of cashew.

kaju apple
Photo: Joyce Koh

Little India is studded with van vendors selling Indian sweets, but if you can’t spot one, pop into Chat Masala (29 Jalan Tengku Kelana. 03 3371 1280), Chennai Chetty Naadu (127 Jalan Tengku Kelana), or a good Indian restaurant in the area.

archana curry house
Photo: Ng Su Ann

Bury your fingers in banana leaf rice at Archana Curry House (62 Jalan Tengku Kelana). Savour a free flow of rice, curry and vegetable dishes (if it’s your lucky day, you’ll get a serving of mushroom masala) – and don’t forget to order sides of fried cauliflower and mutton varuval, and a shot of rasam. Also try: the social media-savvy Smiley’s Banana Leaf (10 Lorong Tingkat. 03 3371 5369) for banana leaf with sides of chicken 65 and fried tenggiri, or the dham biryani the shop’s famous for.

golden bake cake house
Photo: Joyce Koh

The pedigree of the proprietor and purveyor of Golden Bake Cake House – he’s one of the sons of Cheng Yew Ho, of Regent’s famed pandan layer cake – guarantees that he knows his way around all sorts of buttery, creamy and sugary treats. Browse an array of butter cookies, kaya puffs and walnut cakes complete with old school frosting. Go one up; take a seat, and have durian layer cake right here.

Do this

Do this

Flowers are at their freshest at the flower street on Lorong Tingkat. All together, there’re 21 stalls, sitting side-by-side. Indian men and women – pookaarar and pookari, respectively – tie flowers with practised precision into garlands, wreaths and long strings. The orange-yellows of marigold is prominent, as are chrysanthemums, jasmine and orchids, as well as betel leaves and durva grass. Strike a conversation with the sellers, some of whom are second-generation florists – they’re mostly magnanimous with smiles.

chennai silk palace
Photo: Ng Su Ann

Satiate your desire for silks at Chennai Silk Palace (1 Jalan Istana. 03 3372 7272). One of the city’s best saree shops, it satisfies with quality, quantity and variety, from Kanchipuram silks to Manipuri sarees, and embroidery, prints and sequins. It’s housed in a handsome, neo-classical colonial building too: the former Chartered Bank, or the Standard Chartered Bank.

mrs raj's parlour
Photo: Ng Su Ann

Don’t dread the thread. Avoid overzealous plucking at the affordable Mrs Raj’s Parlour (10 Jalan Yeo Guan, off Jalan Tengku. 017 218 0964): RM7 for eyebrow threading or RM25 for full face threading, including chin, forehead and neck.

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Drink this

Drink this

One of our favourite cups of masala chai – at least in Little India – is on offer at Exotic Curry House (39 Lorong Tingkat). The mother of all masala chais is made from the freshest spices – and there’s even a bit of froth to top off the sweet, spicy, silky tea. It’s wonderful on its own, but also rising to the occasion is the (garing) roti canai and ghee thosai.

exotic curry house
Photo: Joyce Koh

After your day trip, read more about the neighbourhood

A little land: Klang's Little India

Little India, of Klang, isn’t a Little India of posters and postcards. Little India, of Klang, is one whose music – an exercise of high-decibel exuberance; a cacophony of Tamil chatter, of Bollywood film scores blaring out of speakers – cannot be defined, nor its meaning determined.

Read more
By: Ng Su Ann

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