A Taste of India in Penang, Malaysia

As with all of the destinations that I visited during my six month journey through Southeast Asia, every day in Penang started with a walk. The only question was what direction I would head in when I stepped out the door of my guest house in Chinatown each morning. On this particular day, my feet took me East, walking along Jalan Muntri past the beautiful old buildings that line the streets of this part of town. The locals were all out and about, probably up for hours going about their business, not paying any attention to me as I wandered past their houses and shops.

Crossing a busy main road, I continued on my Easterly direction, until suddenly the typical Chinatown scene changed to a completely different scene altogether. Suddenly, the peacefulness of Chinatown in the morning was replaced by the sound of loud Indian music. The shopfronts were pasted with a range of vibrant colours, and the smell in the air turned to the aroma of Indian spices. I knew instantly that I had entered Little India – another surprise in George Town.

Entering Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Entering Little India

Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Wandering along the streets of Little India

Street food snacks in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Yummy street food snacks in Little India

Colourful clothes in a shop in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Colourful clothes in a shop in Little India

As I wandered along the colourful streets, my senses were on overload. Bright colours filled every shop and home, as well as the people that wandered past. Somehow, even the fresh produce sold by street side vendors was even more vibrant than elsewhere. Perhaps more than anything else, it was the smells that made me feel like I was in a different city, or even a different country for that matter. The mouthwatering smells of Indian food wafting out of restaurant doors was amazing. The fragrant aromas, the bright colours, the loud music and the local people truly made me feel like I was in a different place altogether.

Street in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Clothes store in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

A clothes store, complete with loud Indian music. You can dance while shopping!

Colourful flowers in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Colourful flowers hanging outside of a shop in Little India

Dusk in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Dusk in Little India

Vegetable Thali in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Vegetarian Thali at a restaurant in Little India

For the next few days that I was in George Town, Penang, I found myself returning to Little India every day, even if it was just to walk through to go elsewhere in the city. The area itself is so interesting, but, as is often the case with me, it was the food that captured my heart. Penang is the food capital of Malaysia for a very good reason, and in my opinion, Little India is where the best food is in Penang. I craved it everyday and returned to try new restaurants and new dishes. There wasn’t a single meal that I didn’t like.

Busy street in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

A busy street in Little India

Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Sri Mahamariamman Temple – The oldest Hindu temple in Penang

Inside Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Inside Sri Mahamariamman Temple

Street side restaurant in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

A street side restaurant at night in Little India

Night street scene in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

A night time street scene – the perfect time to wander around Little India

Tandoori Chicken Briyani in Little India in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Amazing Tandoori Chicken Briyani, with sauces awaiting our naan bread.

Now when I think back to my time in George Town, it is Little India that my mind goes to. I can see myself returning here many times in the future.

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12 comments… add one
  • Craig Jun 16, 2014

    I loved how interconnected the communities were in Penang. Just blocks away from an emphatically Chinese neighborhood was a very Indian Little India, and the different communities coexisted so well considering they were limited to a pretty confined space. We’ve gone back twice already. I’d go back tomorrow, if I could; the food is just so incredible.

    • Dean Wickham Aug 12, 2014

      Hi Craig. I really enjoyed how the different communities all live so closely as well. I can’t wait to go back myself!

  • bobby dennie Jun 20, 2014

    hey nice review of the place, its a food capital can’t be miss when travel around malaysia or singapore. Its the perfect small community who represent all flavour of different malaysia background, chinese, malay, indian and other expat.

    thank for the nice picture as well!

  • Really nice pictures! It really is colorful and vibrant like you say, as well as super clean, which is hard to come by anywhere. Looks and sounds like a lovely little discovery. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Cam Aug 1, 2014

    Ah, Penang! I miss it there. We lived just outside the University Sans Malaysia for 5 months. Nicole was doing an exchange program. We ended up at the same hawker center every night. Some of the best (and cheapest) food I’ve ever had. The tandoori chicken with garlic naan… oh yeah baby!

    • Dean Wickham Aug 12, 2014

      Oh wow, that must have been amazing to stay for that long. The hawker food is definitely the best way to go. Cheap and delicious! mmmm 😉

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